Final Blog Draft Saturday 14.12.13
By Chris Haworth.
This is it our Final Blog! Our final days sailing was a classic trade wind day, 20/25kts all day, spinnaker up all day, cruising and surfing averaging circa 8.5 kts in glorious sunshine ...this is the life! We crossed the finish line in the twigh light at about 1830hrs on 13th December 2013 for three of us our first Ocean crossing! We have covered approx 2800 miles in 19 days. We experienced flat calms and gales, we have had ups mostly and the occasional ‘down’, we have encountered all manner of sea life the highlight being the dolphins turtle and flying fish, I can’t tell you how happy we are to have ‘done it’ and sad that it is all over! We finished second in our class but by way of consolation learned that the winner (who is currently leading the whole arc cruising classes race overall ..I think we are about 6th out of circa 200) was ‘weather routed’ externally from Finland!
On arrival in the marina we received that wonderful laid back west Indian greeting – ‘Welcome to St.Lucia... No hassle no pressure man ...my names Elton.. you’ve arrived on a good day - its St Lucia Day (Fra mentioned it was his mums Birthday today and Elton said ‘you can tell your mum we celebrate her birthday every year!’ We were immediately presented with a chilled and fresh rum punch and a fresh bowl of fruit with a bottle of Rum! YEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
We quickly graduated to the open air ‘boardwalk’ bar where there was a great party atmosphere of all the finished and finishing ark boats and promptly consumed many ‘Pitons’ (the local beer) ..had a great night...when walking back to the boat later I couldn’t decide whether the fact I was wondering all over the place was because I hadn’t yet got my land legs or if I might have had a few too many .......
Graham and I will be flying out from St Lucia today....we will take in the undoubted delights of the Island on another occasion and rest on a truly wonderful and enjoyable experience.
I shall forever be in Fra & Janes Debt for helping to fulfil my dream ...and igniting a fire within! How that fire will spread we will see but I suspect it will not be extinguished easily!
To packing! And a quick ‘spruce up’ of the boat... I think Graham and I might be escaping some serious cleaning duties...timed perfectly!
Blog Reader you have shared our experience with us, thank you! You will therefore know I have been reading about the Atlantic Ocean during this crossing and I can strongly commend to you Simon Winchesters Book ‘Atlantic’, given to me by my great friend Bill Clare (thanks again Bill!). Published in 2010, it covers the history of the formation of the ocean its ‘discovery’, it’s development, its use for trade, warfare, Its Islands, the great states and cities that form its shores – and its current ‘condition’. Having been out here for three weeks and gained a better appreciation of her, I am not only in awe, but full of respect and at the same time alarm and concern. Simon Winchesters book is not about a campaign but I feel duty bound to bring to your attention the following facts:
· Humankind is completely reliant on the oceans for its existence – it is the source of all our fresh water for starters.
· As early as the 1950’s Alarm bells were ringing in the laboratories of marine biologists/scientists. Acclaimed scientist of her age Rachael Carson fretted about the amount of pollution the sea was being expected to absorb, noting fundamental changes to marine life and worrying about its sustainability in the face of such an onslaught (including the dumping at of large quantities of highly radioactive waste in the deepest parts of the Ocean – which will be there for many 1000’s of years and effect life all around it (assuming it doesn’t escape from its steel and cement containers!). She Wrote:
“ although mans record as a steward of natural resources of the earth has been a discouraging one, there has long been a certain comfort in the belief that the sea at least was inviolate. But this belief has proved to be naive.......It is a curious situation that the sea form which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist: the threat is rather to life itself.” - How prescient she was! It is now 2013 and what have we learned done about it (A little but not nearly enough I fear).
· The Ocean has now been recognised to not only be incapable of diluting and coping with all the chemicals, pollutants etc we have put in it ..but unfortunately a transporter for all of mans despoilment around the planet.
· By way of an example of our greed and disrespect for the oceans (with apologies to those of you who already knew this) The grand Banks off Newfoundland, that used to be the most plentiful cod fishing grounds on the planet, where the abundance of fish was regarded as nothing less than miraculous (there were so many of them it was said without much exaggeration you could walk on their backs across the ocean), have now been so over fished that they are ‘dead’. Effectively there are no cod left... It had been estimated that there were 2.5million tons of spawning cod on the banks and we have taken them all (we couldn’t even organise ourselves to take a sustainable catch...which would have been very substantial indeed). It is now illegal to fish for Cod on the Grand Banks but previously the Canadian government had, for political and local economic reasons, either ignorantly or deliberately over estimated quotas for their own short term political ends – (even though they were challenged in the courts by environmentalists at the time who lost). It is literally an unbelievable story!
· Please take the time to track down, where ever you can, an acclaimed BBC documentary ‘’The end of the line’ (u tube I expect) about the state of the worlds fish stocks ....it is very alarming given the experience above.
· Fish are only one aspect of the Oceans extreme stress – I don’t need to tell you about the fate of Whales.......In my humble opinion all whaling should be banned now. (and quite a bit of fishing).. do not believe governments and their agencies ..the facts are out there (like the Canadian government in the 1980’s on Cod quotas on the grand banks...you would have thought they could have protected their own interest ) politicians are not good at dealing with difficult issues which are unpopular with voters!
if these blogs have inspired you about the ocean, which I hope they have, please try and take the time to check out the issues and see if there is anything you should be doing to protect yours and your children’s future! The Marine Stewardship Councils web site (which I have not yet been to myself – but will undoubtedly do so on my return to UK) whilst apparently not perfect may be a good place to start!
Without realising the full significance, I inadvertently referred to the oceans generosity in one of my first Blogs......I think we all (humankind) need to show some generosity and respect back....if for no other reason than our own sake!