Reflections of a Cabin Boy
Reflections of a Cabin Boy assigned to Roger the Captain (???)
In late 2017 my long standing friend Roger announced that he had ‘acquired’ a boat and planned to fulfil a long standing desire to sail across the Atlantic and would I like to come. As a very novice sailor I took this as a tremendous honour which was only slightly dented when he also invited anyone he met in any bar he went to – which was not a small number.
In the end I did make the final crew selection and, as you will know, the plan became to enter the Arc+ Sailing Rally from Las Palmas in the Grand Canaries to St Lucia via Cape Verde.
We sailed around 1,800 miles from the UK to get the boat to the start point in Cape Verde and then rally itself involved 900 miles to Cape Verde and finally 2,080 miles to St Lucia - 4,980 in total. Given my previous longest sail was 15 miles from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight this was definitely a challenge.
It was also going to be a challenge to the only female on the trip – to boat itself – Itchycoo Park. Over its fifteen year life time, she had done many trips but nothing to the scale being planned. To say that she rose to, and met the many challenges, would be an understatement. To become emotional about an assembly of wood, plastics, metal and cloth would seem irrational but she was truly the heart of the whole experience.
We spent a total of 49 days at sea and operated a ‘dry’ boat policy which meant we were in full readiness for anything the forces of nature or equipment failures could throw at us – and there we many of both.
However – this also meant that the 4 times we had a ‘break’ on dry land were a bit ‘excessive’.
We had some incredible wildlife moments including single whales, dolphins and flying fish - some suicide versions which seemed to mistake the boat as a landing strip and one even managed to smack into Roger’s head !
However the wildlife highlight was being surrounded by a pod of Minke whales which kept swimming around us and doing barrel rolls under our boat !
The other highlight was the night skies. We had 4 hour night time watches with not much to do but occasionally steer the boat and look out for other craft. This may seem boring but when you have a clear, moonlight sky with no man-made light pollution - it is a wonderful and very memorable experience.
We arrived safely into St Lucia at 06::47 last Thursday morning to be welcomed by wives and friends with beers and champagne - very welcome.
Pics below as we crossed the finish line , our welcome party, and a local with a superb choice in football team !
After we had moored in the marina the St Lucia Tourist Office provided Fresh fruit and Rum punches - the rest of the day was then something of a blur.
Returning next week to the ‘normality’ of the UK will be interesting.
Sorry - have to end here - someone’s has brought me fresh coconut and a rum punch - life is tough !
In closing I would like to thank my family, friends and work colleagues for all their support, the rest of the crew – Paul, Dan and Ross – for sharing the experience and being a pleasure to sail with, the many Itchycoo-ers for allowing me to become part of a select band of sailors, but mainly I would like to thank Roger for allowing me to share with him such a memorable and amazing experience which has cemented our friendship and will be the source of many bar room stories for years to come.
Roger and out.
Some pics from the trip.
Celebration dinner, with dress code, as we passed the halfway point.
As we crossed the finish line. Paul G took the photo.
Our welcome party
A local with an excellent choice in football team