An 80-year-old Bulgarian sailor was welcomed back home on Wednesday after sailing around the world alone for almost two years.
Vasil Kurtev returned to the Black Sea port of Varna to a hero’s welcome as he completed his 652-day journey.
A cheering crowd of friends and sailing fans greeted the yacht “Odessos” and its veteran skipper after his lonely 25,000-mile journey, as the orchestra of the Bulgarian Navy performed.
Kurtev is one of the oldest sailors who has circumvented the globe. On January 22, he turned 80 on board his yacht. Tanned and in visibly good shape, Kurtev directed his boat to the pier, where he was awarded with a special honour by the mayor of Varna.
As Kurtev climbed off the boat onto the pier, he was handed bouquets of flowers.
“I love you all! I made my year-long dream come true. Now I feel much younger,” were his first words upon stepping onto dry land.
He added: “I’m glad I did it, though — I dealt with a number of troubles, engine and other things, but everything went well in the end.”
Kurtev left port in Varna on August 5, 2015, heading towards the Bosporus and then westwards across the Mediterranean Sea on a two-year trip he initially hoped would be shorter.
The former dentist had already accomplished three Trans-Atlantic solo journeys, but given his age, he noted this journey was by far the most challenging.