THE STALWARTS - AVANTI'S CREW
Here are a few words about the Three Stalwarts, those who made it to be Crew, plus two others who fell by the wayside, through no fault of their own. They all came to me via my web-site (thetims.com], whose purpose was really just to advertise that I was looking for crew.
First, Mike Chandler.
He wrote the briefest CV I have ever set eyes on.
"Hello there, Interested in your trip to Madeira and would be at least interested in discussing further, I am not young but I am reasonably fit and can fix anything, I sail my Freebird 50 out of Portsmouth (various things conspiring to keep me here)."
Says it all. His boat is a catamaran, a good bit bigger than Avanti. Mike has been a huge help to me in all sorts of ways and as a Computer Man, quite invaluable in getting my electronic nav systems up and running. He has endless energy and sprints up and down the mast fixing things up aloft before heading for the bilges to fix other things down below. Says he gets his energy from his breakfast. He has the full Monty: bacon, egg, tomatoes, mushrooms and lots of toast. He's easy to keep happy where food is concerned, especially if it's chocolate biscuits, Jamaican ginger cake and Mars bars.
There's also a photo of him (with another friend Bob), pulling my friend, Ken Clark, up the mizzen mast.
Ken has been an invaluable friend, from 20 years back, helping me in many ways, from listening when I was fed up, to driving car-loads of my gear; to sailing up the River Gambia in West Africa; to mending my broken down boat engine in Venezuela, to mention just a few.
The next to answer was an American, Greg Paul, who has become a good friend. His CV was a great contrast to Mike's; it ran to two pages! He has good boating skills, though no ocean sailing, and a background of practical skills. He would have been an excellent addition to the crew but was forced to fall out through serious illness. However, I'm hoping he'll come and sail Avanti in 2008. In the photo. above, you see him on a lake in the US: during a day which he told me was "magical".
His place was taken by Davy Ovenden-Hall, one of Mike's friends and sailing companions, a most welcome addition to the crew. Davy is an experienced and enthusiastic sailor, a wizard at boat-handling, having had motor boats himself in the past, and most unusually (or so it seems to me!) having also been a helicopter. Pilot, among other things. He is very capable at boat jobs, at electronics ... well, you name it! He also has a lovely sense of humour and is a great raconteur, especially with a large gin and tonic to hand; it's a pleasure to have him aboard. And .... I like his hat!
Number three was well worth the wait. I must have "gone through" something like 50 applicants before he came forward. He is Bill Douglas, owns a Rival 34, and is a highly experienced sailor. He fits in well with Mike and Davy; they all have a great sense of humour, so there's a lot of joking and laughter. He's a first class crew member; practical, competent, can cook, has lots of initiative, plunges in and gets jobs done. He's a wizard in obtaining weather information, knows stuff I never even knew existed. Final accolade: he is amazingly tidy, and the only one of the four of us who is!
Then there was Simon Dale, actually the very first of all the applicants, even before Mike, who spent a good many days (or was it weeks?) working on Avanti, expertly making an excellent job of an intricately-shaped rubbing strake replacement. He was very keen indeed to come and would have been a fine addition to the crew but domestic matters forced him to drop out. As extra-special compensation for the disappointment, he bought his own boat, a Sadler 32! Here we see him looking (rightfully) proud of his work, and rubbing his aching back!
And of course there are a great many others: there's Ian Thorn who did a great deal of electrical and plumbing work; Murray Hamilton who spent days scrubbing loose old paint off the coach roof; Peter Stagg who changed valves in boat loos and took hundreds of rusty staples out of the rubbing strake; Mike Asker who drove big mileages to come and help with whatever needed doing; Elaine Card and Gina Taylor, who helped reduce interior chaos to cleanliness and order; my long-time friend Virginia Wilson-Smith who helped me provision the boat with masses of food and who helped in so many ways that I haven't the space to mention them here; there are many others, too. If you are one of them, please forgive me.