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Meet the adventurous couple sailing around the globe with their parrots

"He asked me to move into the boat less than 12 hours after our first date and I said yes."



By Isolde Walters via SWNS

Meet the adventurous husband and wife who traded life on land to sail around the globe on a 45-foot long sailboat with two parrots.

Madeleine and Herby Benavent have crossed the Atlantic twice in their eco-friendly sailboat and have spent the last four years traveling around Europe, Africa and South America.

Madeleine, 30, an artist from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, met Herby, 34, a dentist originally from Puerto Rico, on Tinder in 2014 and moved onto his boat after just one date.

“We met on Tinder and we knew right away. He asked me to move into the boat less than 12 hours after our first date and I said yes," said Madeleine.

“After our first date, I knew that I was going to marry him.

“I can’t explain it except that he was the most interesting person I had ever met.”

(Photo by Madeleine Benavent via SWNS)

Herby had been living on the boat, a Morgan 45 from 1968, which he purchased for $20,000, for nine years.

“He bought the boat because it was so much cheaper than living in a house while paying off his student loans from medical school,” said Madeleine.

“He already had it in his head that he wanted to cross the Atlantic.”

The boat is an environmentally friendly vessel with an electric, instead of diesel, motor, and a compost toilet.

“We pretty much just use the motor for docking, we sail 98 percent of the time,” Madeleine said.

“The deck is 440 square feet, we have a nice galley kitchen with a table and we sleep in the V-berth in a queen-size bed that tapers to a point.”

The pair wed in June 2016 and a year later they set off on their epic travels.

“Originally it was only going to be a nine-month sabbatical and now four years later we are not quite home yet," Madelaine added.

“This is the time of our life. We don’t have kids yet. We both have this passion for sailing and traveling.”

The couple started a Youtube channel, Rigging Doctor, documenting their travels which eventually generated enough income to cover their expenses.

They sailed down the East Coast to Florida and crossed over to Bermuda.

(Photo by Madeleine Benavent via SWNS)

From Bermuda, they sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the Azores, an archipelago off the coast of Portugal.

The couple packed 70 cans of beans and 200 gallons of water for their 26-day passage across the Atlantic which involved plenty of preparation and sleeping in four-hour shifts.

“We did learn a lot about navigation and cloud reading and it takes a lot of planning for the weather," Madeleine said.

“We had to provision like crazy - we got 70 cans of beans just in case.”

Madelaine added that the journey gave her a new appreciation for the planet and made her even more environmentally conscious.

“You have moments where you are in awe of the world - you are so alone and the stars are unlike anything you could ever imagine," she said.

“We are very environmentally conscious after seeing trash in the middle of the Atlantic.

“We saw lots of flip flops, plastic bags, plastic bottles and a ton of microplastics over the entire ocean as far as we could see.”

The couple spent two years in Europe and were visiting Austria when the pandemic closed down borders.

Nevertheless, aboard their boat the couple managed to avoid lockdowns.

“We really escaped COVID,” Madeleine said.

“We were going across Europe in a van and our boat was in Spain.

“We were in Austria when all of a sudden the borders closed and we couldn’t get back to the boat.

“One of our Youtube followers invited us stay in their apartment in Austria.

“When the borders opened after two months, we sailed from Spain to Gibraltar and then went to Madeira where we got our first COVID test.

“I feel we were the luckiest people during the pandemic.”

The couple sailed back across Africa to South America and made their way up to the Caribbean where they took in Charlie, a green-winged macaw, they found in a rescue.

“Herby grew up with birds and it has always been his dream to have a Macaw.

Morty, Charlie and Gerry on the boat. (Photo by Madeleine Benavent via SWNS)

“But Macaws live to 60 to 80 years old so we knew we had to get one soon.”

As macaws bond with just one person, Madeleine soon wanted her own bird.

After a lot of research, she found Gerry, a blue-and-gold macaw, in a pet store in Florida.

“We sailed straight from Puerto Rico to Florida to get Gerry and it was so worth it, I love her so much," she added.

The birds’ wings are clipped for fear of them flying out of the boat but Madeleine said they love life on board.

“It’s been fantastic with the birds.

“They have free range, they have their favorite spots in the boat and they just love it.

“Their wings are clipped so they can’t fly away. It was a hard decision, but if they fly away, they die.

“Our lifestyle is really wonderful for birds because you need to be with them the whole time.

“When we go to shore, we take them with us, when we eat, they come with us.”

The couple, who are currently docked in Florida, are getting ready to move back on land as they would like to have children but they insist that sailing will always be a part of their lives.

Madelaine said: “We don’t plan on living aboard when we have children.

“We will probably get a house somewhere but we will always have the boat.”

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