Exploring the World by Sail from A to Z

Jeff and Zia's adventures aboard the catamaran Hekla

12 January 2015 | 62 31'S:59 47'W, Antarctic Peninsual
09 January 2015 | 65 54'S:62 52'W, Antarctic Peninsual
07 January 2015 | 65 15'S:64 16'W, Antarctic Peninsual
04 January 2015 | 64 19'S:62 55'W, Antarctic peninsula
31 December 2014 | 54 48'S:68 19'W, Ushuaia
27 December 2014 | It's 6am must be Miami...
26 December 2014 | Guatemala
09 June 2013 | 17 35'N:80 42'W, Caribbean sea
06 June 2013 | Jamaica
04 June 2013 | 18 28'N:77 57'W, Montego Bay
02 June 2013 | 19 20'N:78 49'W, on passage Cayman-Jamaica
23 May 2013 | 19 43'N:82 58'W, south of Cuba, NW of Cayman
19 May 2013 | 24 34'N:81 49'W, Key West, Florida
30 April 2013 | 23 25'N:85 38'W, Gulf of Mexico
27 April 2013 | 21 15'N:86 45'W, Isla Mujeras
19 April 2013 | 18 17'N:87 50'W, Xcalak
17 April 2013 | 15 34'N:89 12'W, Lago Izabal, Guatemala
10 April 2013 | Rio Dulce
10 April 2013 | 15 39'N:88 'W, Rio Dulce
01 April 2013 | 16 05'N:88 32'W, Southern Belize

End of bike and beer tour of Belgium

02 September 2011 | Bouillon, Belgium
by Jeff
Thursday, Sept 01.

The original plan for this day was a tough 94 km and very hilly ride into Bouillon, then a bus ride to the abbey of Orval for a tour and dinner. Unfortunately there were just not enough hours in the day and fresh muscles to pull that off, so we rode the first spectacularly beautiful 60 km along the river Semois, then shuttled into Bouillon. It was probably the best biking day of the trip, as the route descended into the rocky canyon of the river, we wove through tight forests and steep descents, all under a beautiful blue sky. Lunch was on the lawn of the DeVille (France) train station, where several kids became excited recipients of the blazing yellow Experience Plus! hats. Our hotel is the upscale La Ferronniere, on a hill overlooking the town and the 8th century castle on the other side of the river. After a brief rest, we shuttled to Orval, toured the ruins of the abbey dating from the 11th century, had a glimpse of the modern abbey built in the early 20th century, then retired to the newly renovated adjacent restaurant for tasting of fresh and aged Orval beers, and dinner. Orval beer is for me one of the best of this country, employing a mixed fermentation in its production resulting in nicely complex flavors without a high alcohol content.

So that's a wrap on the 2011 Experience Plus! Bike and Beer tour of Belgium. There is no other bike and beer tour in the world like this one. Every day, we rode a modest 70 km on average, yet found ourselves in a region with a completely different local beer culture than the day before. In just 10 days we experienced the complete diversity of this amazing beer country, (almost) completely by bike. This diversity density just does not exist anywhere else on the planet.

Zia and I relax in Bouillon until Sunday, when we make our way to Stuttgart, to start the next chapter of the Euro tour.


01 September 2011 | Chimay, Belgium
by Jeff
Wednesday Aug 31
The first half of today’s ride was difficult, on the narrow or non-existing shoulder of a fairly busy highway, as there were no viable country road options. This will become more the case as we move into the Ardennes, the hillier and wilder part of the country. Lunch and a tour was at Brasserie de Silenreaux, a small craft brewery in operation since 1992. They are the makers of Sara buckwheat beer and Joseph spelt beer, sometimes found the the USA. Interesting that they did not put their own beers front and center in the cafe, 2 of the 3 taps being other commercial beer, and nearly all of the cooler.

Anyway, after lunch and a few too many sausages for the steep hills that immediately followed, the scenery became pastoral again, and we ended the ride just outside the village of Chimay, at the Augerge de Poteaupre, which is owned and operated by a commercial arm of the monastery. What a beautiful place to ride in to, Chimay beer, bed, and breakfast all in one stop, and a short walk to the Abbey de Scourmont, aka Chimay. Today the monastery doors were wide open, inviting all tourists into the central courtyard of the abbey. Absolutely beautiful and contemplative!

Chimay beer these days is flavorful and well brewed, and enjoys a strong reputation. However it lacks the microbiological diversity and flavor complexity that it had in the 80’s, which was especially revered by this writer and former brewer at that time.

Poperinge to Mons

31 August 2011 | Mons, Belgium
by Jeff, sunny and cool today
We ride to the east now, often times with a nice tailwind. We weave through farm fields plump with late summer agricultural bounty: corn, hops, beets, cabbage, and much more. Farm activity is also vibrant, we dodge massive modern tractors working the fields, pulling trailers of harvest or spreading manure. These roads are usually paved "cow paths" or simple one lane roads that give local access to the farms. Without the paving these paths would be deep rutted mud pits from the heavy tractor activity, with it they are the most delightful cycling roads imaginable, smooth pavement with endless pastoral views, tidy gardens, fat and happy livestock. Navigating these farm roads with a paper map would be frustrating and slow, as most intersections are unmarked. Experience Plus! has recorded these routes on GPS and the lead guide can navigate easily while chalk marking the course. Also quite abundant these days are rooftop solar panels on houses and farms.

Our most interesting spontaneous experience happened today. We came around a corner and could hear a brass horn in the distance. We stopped to listen to two guys from a road construction crew who were on a break, playing coiled long brass horns, an ancient instrument without valves, all of the notes are by mouth manipulation. Their sound echoed off of the forest walls as we stood in front of a magnificent castle, the moment was magically medieval.

Over the last 2 days we given a wave to the breweries Dubuisson and Brasserie a Vapeur and had a brief stop at the quintessential farm-brewery Dupont. Tonight we are in Mons, a large city south of Brussels that is off of the typical tourist routes, however it has a beautiful and vibrant central market square and a welcome density of high quality restaurants.
Vessel Name: Hekla
Vessel Make/Model: Atlantic 57, Chris White Designs
Hailing Port: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Crew: Jeff Lebesch, Zia Zybko
About: Jeff has been sailing for 11 years, and has completed two singlehanded TransPac races on his former trimaran Hecla. Zia is enthusiastic about adventure-exploration by sail

S/V Hekla

Who: Jeff Lebesch, Zia Zybko
Port: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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