Homeward Bound.

Paul Huntley
Tue 5 May 2009 14:32

18:23N 64:38W

Tuesday 5th May 2009 Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, and the British Virgin Islands.

Sunday started very early at 05:00 with a short trip in Doris to take Ewan to the airport. He  joined us in The Pitons, St Lucia many weeks ago. His journey today will take him back to St Lucia via Antigua, the on the afternoon Virgin flight to Gatwick and Sussex for a few days with Sarah at Scragg Oak Farm. He plans to return to Australia via Thailand in August and spend next winter in the Rockies skiing with the Olympic elite.

Guy and I, the only remaining crew, caught up on the last few remaining jobs before our first Atlantic crew arrived.

Lucien Billot, a printer from Paris flew in from St Marrten just after midday. We found him outside the terminal surrounded by luggage that I thought he must be guarding for a coach party. To my horror it all belong to him, he had told me he sailed a Westerly Pentland from St Marlo and I think he brought the entire inventory with him. The excess baggage on these five heavy pieces amounted to the same price as his original air ticket. Guy with resignation and a straining back collected what turned out to be the two heaviest pieces, one in each hand, I grabbed a large cling filmed wrapped box containing books , we staggered off towards the dock, within fifty meters Guy grip was going and he rested giving a good impression of a gorilla, with his hands dragging on the dusty road, reluctantly we swapped loads. Exhausted and very hot we arrived at the dock and loaded Doris and the three of us setting off for Libertad, Doris seemed to have aged with creases in her hypolon that she had never shown before, time for a rejuvenating pump up, the equivalent of a dinghy Botox’s you can’t tell the descriptive analogies are getting more extreme as this tropical heat is getting to me, I think I am going mad. With limited space we shoehorned him in to the forepeak, only one remaining bunk the other being full of sails and forced his luggage in behind him, re assured that his only escape was to tunnel, we put the kettle on for a well earned cuppa.

Rejuvenated, I returned to the airport to me the remaining two crew members, Guy by this time had become much wiser and remained onboard staring at the forepeak rather like watching a mole at work on a newly mown lawn waiting for Lucien to emerge with a well rehearsed, Bonjour.     

Mordecai Shore travelled up from St Thomas on the ferry to Road Town and  a taxi to Trellis Bay, an experienced sailor from Greenville, South Carolina, (you have a nice day now  you allll) his southern accent  putting John Wayne to shame. Fortunately he had the minimum baggage .He tells me he runs a commercial real estate business with his daughter. In his youth he also ran a dive school and has completed deliveries of several yachts from the U.S.to the Caribbean. His family were immigrants from the Ukraine in the early part of the last century, In 1908 his father faced the pogroms of the pre revolutionary Russian state and fled via a steerage passage from Antwerp to Ellis Island, New York on the S.S. Samland He rebuilt his life marrying Modecai's mother having established a textile business initially in Philadelphia but moving south to the Carolina's to be closer to the raw material, cotton.

Our final crew member Drew Jackson, arrive on a schedule British airways flight from Gatwick to Antigua and a Liat connection to Beef Island after an exhausting trip from the U.K. Drew a post graduate from Lancaster emerged through the frosted glass doors of the immigration hall stating (today Mathew I want to sail the Atlantic) with the sharp eye of an undertaker I sized this lean six foot six giant and immediately placed him in the main saloon on the longest bunk.

Having graduated with a first class degree in communication technology he spent the winter in the French resort of Meribel as a ski host, here he met Sarah, my daughter, doing similar work in a neighbouring resort. He qualified as a RYA day skipper with a school in Gibraltar sailing to Morocco and back. He is studying for his Coastal Yachmaster with this Atlantic crossing adding to his logged hours. 

This disparate or perhaps desperate grew are bonding well. We sailed from Trellis bay on Monday morning have completed a grand tour of the boat and an extensive safety briefing. With a forecast of thunder and squalls we motored out to the east around Beef Island and set the Genoa and main ghosting along at 3 knots. Passing Road Town I decided that it was time to practice "man overboard” Throwing a fender over the side, Lucien thought I had gone mad at the cry of Man Overboard leapt in to action. With Guy on the helm we rounded up and on the second attempt recovered the casualty, 

With a call to Nanny Cay on the VHF we entered the harbour and we went alongside the fuel berth to bunker diesel, we were allocated a berth and connected up to services. 

Andrew Bishop the M.D. of the World Cruising Association, and Olivier Delayhe the ARC Europe manager were on the pontoon to greet us. We had a rum punch reception at six in a nearby restaurant to attend so we completed the formalities and our safety check in a significant tropical downpour. Drew found a relatively dry spot to hoist our signal flags to dress ship overall, a shower was now a priority and another change of clothes and off to the party.

Tuesday morning and the sun is out once again with scudding clouds from the east billowing over the hills of Tortola we have to make our final preparations to Libertad, reaffixing the Hyrovane rudder and deflating dear old Doris and scrubbing her bottom, she has given us great service but is resigned to her bag for the duration on the voyage to the U.K.

That's all for now folks but watch this space, we sail for Bermuda on Thursday morning.

Love to all at home and best wishes to all our blog watchers.