Day 19 - Over and out!

Alistair Groom
Thu 13 Dec 2007 16:53

We’re heading for the finish.  The line is a couple of miles off and barring unforeseen eventualities – hitting the rocks, colliding with the committee boat, etc, we will be there very soon.   Our last night gave us plenty of action – close encounter with a cruise ship, high winds and rain squalls during which we had to dismantle the rudder of the wind-steerer which had collapsed on us when a bolt sheered off. 


We will have done the voyage in just over 18 days. After the line we’ll be into rum punches so you may not hear much more from us, or, if you were to, it would be incoherent, so this may be the last you will hear from us. 


Clare is going home on Sunday.  John’s family are arriving for a holiday on Sunday; and Andrew’s family have narrowly beaten us here and are staying on holiday until after, by chance,  the ARC prize-giving, which we do not expect to be of great significance for us.  We entered the racing division for a bit of extra fun and spice but we are neither a racing boat nor a racing crew, and our assumption has always been that we will be last in the racing division. As it happens, we may be denied the wooden spoon, but only just.    After a few essential boat repairs, Brad and I are taking the boat up to St Barth at the weekend to be welcomed, we hope, by Jenny – a mere another 270 miles to go.  Brad will then return to the States, and A&J return to the UK.


It has been a great voyage, with highs and lows, as reported in the blog.  It has not been a stroll in the park, though, as we’ve said before.


The crew have been fantastic.


Our heli-skiing, bungee-jumping, racing-driver, mountain-biker, iron-man John, with his matching steely logical intellect,  has been our fore deck, side deck and stern deck gorilla, and he just has to stare at a pile of tangled spinnaker ropes and they unravel.   He could never really get to understand why if the wind is blowing 27 knots we were only going 7 knots.   He sort of nods when we try to explain but you can tell that he is not convinced. He’s been a huge asset and a great character.  And all on muesli, but not any old muesli, it has to be special stuff.


Brad has been, as he always is, the very model of courtesy, generosity and kindness.  He thinks of everyone before himself; in fact he never thinks of himself.  And he has been our wise counsellor. When the slightly younger ones have been pressing for more sail (John would like to have all 7 of the sails that we started out with up at the same time), Brad gives us an old-fashioned look and which says that we are already heading in the right direction at a reasonable speed, and if we put up all that sail we will have to take it down in half an hour in strong winds, get in a right muddle and then be left with just the spray-hood by way of canvas to propel us.   He was always right, and we always took his advice.  He is, we think, desperate for some American food. And he has learned some new English expressions, although we are worried that he thinks that ‘a feral pair of tits’ is an _expression_ which can be usefully employed.


Andrew is a hero, and as Clare says, pretty much perfect. He is the nicest bloke you can imagine, has kept us all chirpy, and has been in charge of sailing tactics (always keen to experiment with a new sail-plan; surprising that he has not employed the bimini as extra canvas on the inner forestay) and has swung a mean wheel and guided us to safety during some mighty squalls.  Who wouldn’t want Andrew on their team?


And the angel Clare: founder of the division of the order of Poor Clares who have to tolerate unkempt men and near-squalid conditions.  She has completely mastered the pole up and the pole down and spin 1; maybe the result of an earlier career involving poles. She really has been a saint, always cheerful, and has been delightful and charming throughout.  She has never actually screamed, audibly, but has come close to it when the living conditions and one more roll have frayed the nerves.    We knew that she was in the slough of despond when our early slow progress meant that she might not have any time on the beach; and then might miss her flight home; and then might miss Archie’s 18th.  But she kept her pecker up, and our increased turn of speed in the second half made us all more cheerful.  We have tried to look after her, as she has us.   We all offered to help her shower off the stern platform but only Brad was accorded that privilege.



And now as they instruct you never to say in VHF courses:

Over and out!