Honour Guard join for the 'Home Run'

Steve Powell
Thu 9 Jun 2011 10:26

We arrived in Dartmouth on Sunday evening after a very successful leg over from the Azores. It took us just 6 days, planned 7-8 days, but it all went well. The winds turned against us in the last couple of days so we had to motor a bit, but otherwise it was a perfect crossing.

We had a little excitement when we rescued a couple of racing pigeons 200nm south of Ireland. They both landed on the boat within an hour of each other and decided to stay. We had another one land but he decided to leave after a rest. We found boxes  for them fed and watered them and then checked out their tags.  A quick bit of research online identified their owners, who we then contacted. One was from Ireland, Shamus,  the other from South Yorkshire, Gordon. (the names are ours!). So they lived onboard for a couple of days and when we got into Dartmouth we had a ceremonial ‘release’. They both flew around in circles for a minute or two then Shamus flew off to Ireland and Gordon set off for Yorkshire.

Skipper bonding with Gordon, and Shamus heads for Ireland.

The biggest challenge of this last leg was coming through the Western Approaches, after years of often not seeing another boat for days or even weeks, the shock of the traffic south of the Scilly Isles was quiet unnerving. I ended up doing a 9 hour overnight watch, just looking at the radar screen, and shouting course changes up to the helm. It was like sitting at an air traffic control screen. Ships everywhere, going in every direction and dozens of fishing boats just going round in circles. Reviewing our track for that night was fun, we weaved all over the place as we played ‘chicken’ with tankers and fishing boats all night.  But we survived.

My Azores crew, Welsh Mark, ‘Forest’ Mike and ‘Emsworth’ Mike, stayed onboard for an extra day and helped me clean her up. We had a great evening celebrating our success which ended up with four fully grown, slightly drunk, men watching “Mama Mia”, the movie. How sad, and yes there was a lot of ‘sing along’!

So now I am ready to go home.

I am very happy to say that today I am being joined by the ‘Honour Guard’ Crew, five guys who have all played an important role in our adventure.

Dawson Penn and Hugh Pringle, the Two Buddha's, both early inspiration and mentors when I was ‘learning’ to sail, also part of my first Atlantic crew. Still ‘learning’ guys! Dawson was also very involved in the design and spec of UHURU when she was being built.

David ‘Botty’ Botterill, who retired just at the right moment and has been almost permanently resident on UHURU ever since. Botty has to be the luckiest man in the world, a beautiful wife, Willie, who carried on working to keep him in the lifestyle he always aspired to, and a friend who had a big boat to allow him to sail the high seas at his leisure!.

Alistair ‘Buzz’ Keck, a great sailor and my ‘tactician’ on E’Tu, my RS Elite. Buzz was also a key member of the Antarctic crew.

And Chris Durham, my 1st Mate, for the last 7 months, whose hard work, enthusiasm and ‘antics’ , made a massive contribution to the success of our adventure.

We set off in the morning and should get to Lymington about 5 o’clock, for a “surprise’’ welcome home party at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. Your all invited if you can make it.

See you all soon

Luv to all


9th June 2011.