Ode to an Ocean

Phil Pascoe
Thu 11 Jun 2009 14:34

39:50.5N 27:38.6W

10 June 14.30h.

Homeward leg from Azores, more dolphins at play.  This is the poem I've composed along the way.

Ode to an Ocean

An Atlantic Circuit – what to expect?
Anything and everything is a reasonable bet.
Trade wind sailing from East to West,
Twin headsails for downwind are often the best.
Steady progress, warm sun and deep blue seas,
The miles tick by with consummate ease.
It may seem far at 2800 miles
but in this direction, it’s only 20 days and all smiles.

So we reach the Caribbean; islands in the sun,
Now for a season cruising and having fun.
However, in 2009 with the grim state of the pound,
it seemed like Paradise LOST rather than found.
Food was expensive, not to mention the beer
so our first impressions were lacking good cheer.
Then the climate took hold, all hot and sticky
And water stocks made frequent showers very tricky

Don’t panic just yet, give it some time
Have another beer with a twist of lime.
Then comes evening and the temperature falls
We all feel cooler and the local Bar calls.
Fortunately Happy ‘Hour’ is not always one
but two or three hours; that’s lots of Rum.
Then after some food the Caribbean seems great
but the morning’s all headaches, and breakfast is late.

Each island is different and the natives a mix.
If you have a small problem, they’ll surely offer to fix.
The Customs Officials are a completely different matter
they are so unhelpful, often surly, and fatter.
I preferred the Leewards, the islands up North
and even spent some time going back and forth.
Antigua and St. Bart’s were two that stood out
And the BVIs, to me, were definitely worth a shout.

Eight month have now passed and it’s time to return.
Another ocean passage and lots more to learn.
BVIs to Bermuda, first North by 800 miles
a long haul indeed, but it ended in smiles.
Bermuda, best of British, clean and tidy, but not cheap,
Then on to the Azores, another mighty leap.
Compared to tradewind sailing, this leg was a pain,
Head winds and calms, miles so difficult to gain.

At last 25 knot winds, East, and very big swells,
Eight knots and surfing, blimey, Hells Bells.
Well at least we’ll get there, in one piece I hope,
with night steering we trust that George will cope.
As Victor supplies amps and a lot of whining
We’re all down below, enjoying gourmet dining.
A long night ahead, three hour watches and no sleep,
then morning comes, when sun over horizon does peep.

Weather files downloaded and examined with care,
What winds await us, how strong and from where?
Much of it is mundane, moderate or fine
Then we saw something that could be a Force Nine.
Reefed and ready as it increased bit by bit,
The waves first looked awesome, then it was, ‘Oh S**T!’
The boat and crew all behaved extremely well,
A slightly torn mainsail, the main damage that befell.

The storm abated slightly, ‘Phew, that’s a relief.’
Let’s hope we can continue without further grief.
To save further damage we packed the mainsail away,
and continued with genoa alone, 90 degrees, the course to lay.
Then George, the autopilot, gave up the ghost,
So we gainfully employed Maggie, when she’s needed most.
Persistent strong winds pushed us nicely along
the last 600 miles to Horta, we all deserve a gong.

The Azores I know, will be welcoming and kind,
How long shall we spend there?  I don’t mind.
It’s the trip back from there that might be tough,
1250 miles, that’s got to be enough.
So when I enter the Yealm, what thoughts are in my head?
Was it all worth it, the Oceans that I’ve tread?
To think of doing more, must surely be insane,
but, you know what they say, ‘never say, never again.’

To summarise the voyage, what words can I say?
Many thanks to all the crew that helped along the way.
Thanks also to friends that we met in several places,
it was great to arrive and see some familiar faces.
To plan an odyssey like this is not an easy feat,
and many times I felt, it may have had me beat.
Fortunately, friends and family allowed to me say, 'I can'
and only now I realise, I'm a very lucky man.