Riens is born in 1954 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and lived there until the age of 17, where after he moved to Leek in the northern part of The Netherlands. He studied at the Nautical College for Marine engineers. Riens finished the Nautical college in 1974 and went to sea as a marine engineer on the Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) of EXXON. In 1983 he went back to college to complete his collection of nautical engineering licences. In 1985 he started as an equipment engineer at the EXXON refinery in Rotterdam and never had a dull moment again.
Ineke is born in 1953 in Groningen, The Netherlands and lived there until the age of 11. She moved to Hoogezand in 1964 and 7 years later back to Groningen to study Nursing at the University Hospital. Ineke finished her nursing study in 1975 and worked as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Children wards and followed the study as a children’s RN. She worked till 1986 in The University Hospital Groningen. Once a year Ineke joined Riens at the VLCC for 3 or 4 months, this was mostly during the cold Dutch winter months.
Spring 1972 they met in Groningen, 1973 started to live together and got married November 1974
In 1986 we moved house from Groningen to Willemstad, 30 km south of Rotterdam. Willemstad, an old fortified city is situated at one of the river arms, now protected from the sea by locks. The first years we wind surfed a lot but in 1989 we bought our first boat, an Etap 28. We learned a lot and had great fun sailing her. In 1992 in our 4 week holiday, we sailed with her to the southern part of Denmark. At this trip we started to dream about sailing long distances and live on the boat for longer periods as well.
So in 1993 we sold the Etap 28 and bought a larger sailing boat, a Bavaria 350 lagoon. We could plan and make longer trips during our holidays and weekends. We had more space and comfort, so we joined in 1997 for the first time the 1400 Nm “North Sea Triangle” (Holland-Shetlands-Norway-Holland) to see if we liked longer sailing trips. We were definitely hooked, because we both fell in love with this kind of sailing. From that moment on we saved our money and started looking for a larger boat to live at.
In July 1999 we saw the ALC 46 “Running Bare” on the market and November 29, our 25th wedding anniversary, we became the proud owners of this boat and renamed her “Zeezwaluw”. The Dutch name for an Arctic Turn.
From 1985 till March 2002; Riens worked in many different jobs at the EXXON Refinery in Rotterdam and Antwerp. Ineke started a job at the University Cancer Hospital in Rotterdam in 1986, studied Cancer care, palliative care and became and worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist till March 2002.
In March 2002, at the age of 48 & 49 we stopped working (for employers), sold our beautiful house in Willemstad as all our belongings to bridge the financial gap until we would receive our retirement money. End of March 2002 we moved to Zeezwaluw and became live-a-boards. We took our two budgies with us and they became live-aboards too. And no they do not complain.
A historic moment in life is when you realize; on the steps of the company where you just sold your last car, that from this moment on you will have no other keys in your pocket than those from your yacht. But even when we walked “key less” through the rain to the bus stop heading to “SY Zeezwaluw” we felt exited, our new way of life began.