There was a shaky-kneed moment when I leapt off
Summer Song yesterday onto the Town Quay in Poole. After 12 days at sea, in some
exceedingly rolly conditions, walking more than a few paces on the level was
challenge enough. But there was also the delight at seeing Mission Control there
to greet us. We haven't seen Mama and Papa since they spent a week with us in
Antigua in mid-February. And much like the day we saw them into a taxi back to
the airport, it was raining again. Hard.
The Gaffer was
standing looking damp beneath the torrent of rain, waving vigorously from the
quayside. He was expecting to see us roaring up the harbour under a full
press of sail, so failed to spot us until we were almost upon them. Summer Song
was dressed overall with signal flags (inherited from my Grandfather's boat,
Enzian) and we had arranged the courtesy flags of every country we visited in
order down the starboard spreader. We also gave ourselves away by tooting
vigorously on the dregs of an aerosol fog horn - the same one that got us safely
from Martha's Vineyard to Nantucket in zero visibility.
We weren't sailing, however, and had motored the
last 10 miles from Anvil Point. The stout southerly wind that had whisked us up
from Portland under the billowing spinnakoo had faded and we feared making
our lunchtime rendezvous in Poole. Once the sails were furled we began tidying
ropes and putting things away so that by the time the breeze returned in Poole
Harbour, we felt little inclination to 'mess things up' again. A small armada of
boats was scurrying out of the harbour as we arrived, and many of them waved
cheerily of hooted their horns as we passed.
An impressive parallel parking manoeuvre was pulled
off at the Town Quay and in seconds we were moored up and stumbling ashore. Hugs
were bestowed and champagne corks were popped and we couldn't quite believe that
we had arrived back where we started after a year and 11 days. It is indescribably exciting to be home. Wonderful to see
family again - Jesse, William and the Twoo also made it down for the occasion.
And Savannah sprang a surprise appearance with her chap, Geoffrey. Elise's
father had made a last minute trip from Sweden to welcome her and wellwishers
also stopped to congratulate us, although I suspect that some of them may
have been angling more for a glass of vino.
We then promptly repaired to the Portsmouth Hoy, a
nearby pub. It was a Hall & Woodhouse establishment - the brewer of Badger
ales - so the first Pint for over a year was the legendary Fursty Ferret - a
delightfully sweet, malty affair and, in classic British style, flat and
unchilled. We lunched on local crab and fish and chips and relished being back
on dry land. Afterwards we sailed back round to our old mooring at Lake yard,
still in Poole Harbour, with a crew of nine. It was slow progress, with just 5
knots of wind and sudden blazing sunshine. We covered the mile in about an
Back on the Town Quay in Poole
Leaving our mark in Horta marina
Into a whopping mahi
At last: twin headsails
Halfway party: 675 miles northeast of the
Land ho: Anvil Point, 10 miles from
Super weather to welcome us home...