We are blogging again!
Well, sorry to our blog watchers for the transmission fault, but normal service hereby resumes at 2240 GMT... Apologies to the guys who kindly emailed me alone at sea who never got a response, it was a big wave that got in and drowned everything. Thank you to Malcolm who has got us back up and running, and of course to my Alex who sourced and ordered all the parts that were fizzing with electricity and saltwater, and brought them with her on the flight out.
We have just had a very relaxing but fairly non-alcoholic dinner and chat with the many and varied friends we have made out here. Alex has done her best to calm her ever increasingly nervous skipper, but as the start approaches (my second, her first) we are getting a little jittery. We have had an unforgettable few days in Ponta Delgada, soaking up the sun, relaxing in the companionship of our colleagues and for me and Alex, learning an awful lot from the old hands and experienced racers who have been so welcoming, unassuming and friendly. I still can't believe I'm here. We are very proud of our old boat, she has survived a very trying 14 day, 1400 mile leg unscathed, despite foul weather at times, a very intense engine run of 30 hours (constant motoring) at the end, and a thorough plastering of Atlantic weed and saltwater. She has all our confidence in her ability to deliver us safely (and hopefully quickly) home.
Anyway, we are now back aboard and have some unusual news which comes in the form of a story: One of the class 4 boats captained by our new-found friend Chris took on, on the first night, a stray, slightly confused and tired racing pigeon who they named Percy. Another boat reported a brief pit-stop from a racing pigeon, so we all assume a squadron of them were blown off course en-route to their own finish line, so decided to aim for ours.
Percy stayed with them all through the first leg, survived through highs and lows, bad weather and good and arrived, in good time, in the Azores last week. All expectations were that he was to leave and put down roots (or roosts, I suppose) in the Azores, but he loyally stayed on board, flying off every day but returning to his “bunk” in their forepeak, only to emerge in the late afternoon to socialise and feed. He quickly became a pontoon mascot and, as does happen with short-handed crews, a relationship has built up with the skipper and the stowaway.
However... and this is where we come in... the now attached pair, Chris and Percy, were joined on “Ding Dong” by their new crew, a very affable but non animal lover, Welshman Steve, who upon seeing Percy made strict demands that he be put ashore immediately or be made into lunch before he "crrrraps all ovar the bo-aat and my bunk-ker". Percy was therefore facing the pot or looking for new shipmates back to the UK.
We (after a few beers, admittedly) took on the responsibility of transporting the plucky pigeon back to his presumed homeland, where Chris and his partner are eagerly awaiting his arrival, as their new family pet. We have been instructed to remove his three leg bands, identifying him as a racer, as for him to return home would mean certain death, due to his lack of navigational skills. This dearth of knowledge has no doubt endeared him to the fleet, mostly reliant as we are on electronic navigation... we feel for him. I say most of us, I do not want to offend the stalwart sextant navigators among us, whose respect you certainly have from me.
So, in conclusion, we aim to deliver our new member of crew unharmed to Blightey, hopefully in good time. He’s had a bit of lunch and made himself at home in our forepeak, but whether he prefers our lovely, gentle, comfy, warm boat in the company of two animal lovers, rather than in a plastic tube filled with rolling sailbags and empty wine bottles crashing along relentlessly at 12 knots, remains to be seen...
We start the next leg of our adventure tomorrow at 1300 GMT, expect regular blogs, but as before, please remember, in the event of no news (even from the tracker), this means good news. Please wish us luck!
Joe, Alex, Cali (and now, Percy!)