The Finish

Randall B Griepp
Thu 15 Nov 2012 23:08

18:23.897N 64:38.172W

November 15 Thursday 10:00

I know that I have lately been quite delinquent in fulfilling my duty as the official chronicler of this adventure and have left some of you wondering what ever happened to the “rocket ship” since the last missive left off Traveling Light zooming to the finish line. We spent Saturday the 10th racing with the 20-30 knots winds generated by the following cold front  which very slowly caught us and finally passed us to the south east on Saturday Night. We battled squalls and high winds all night long but did not shorten sail as we were doing earlier in the trip. I was told that the knot-meter read 19 knots at one point in this wild ride. Each time the sky cleared a bit to the West someone would say: “This is it, we are in the clear, it is all smooth sailing from here on!” but every time we would get hit with another squall and get another jolt. We were riding the high winds of the cold front following, passing and following us again and again giving us plenty of wind to make up for all the lost time; we were going to catch them all that were ahead of us. We were all convinced that we were going to smoke them if only some more distance was left to the finish. We never saw any other boats until the last few miles to the finish line. Sunday greeted us with a majestic sun rise, clear skies and warm wind; and we pressed hard tweaking the sails to get the last bit of power out of this weather system. The front had finally passed but the winds stayed steady and strong almost up to the finish line late in the day. Sunday was the most pleasant day of the whole eight days we spent on the ocean out of sight of any land. The sight over the horizon of the bluish peaks of Tortola to the South in early afternoon was exciting and relieving. “Land Ho” !!! Now I understand what the ancient mariner must have felt when he heard that cry. At about the same time we saw a sail to the West going South-East closing in onto the finish line across from “Scrub Island” at the eastern end of Tortola. The sail belonged to an “Oyster 48”, named “Thales”,  apparently built under her owner Doug’s (forgot last name) supervision in England. Doug is a pleasant but undoubtedly competitive and driven man, an ex Hedge Fund manager; we shared some dinner conversation with him while still in Hampton. This was our race to lose. The Skipper, the competitive racer that he is, immediately sprang into action; Traveling Light was brought close to the wind all sails trimmed to perfection making 8-9 knots to Thales’ 7 knots as seen on the AIS. Then Thales turned her AIS off; the Skipper said:” that sly fox does not want us to see her speed.” We did not need to see what she was up to we all knew that we had the lighter and faster boat and we were going to beat Doug no matter what kind of sly trick he had up his sleeve. We crossed the finish line right off Scrub Island at 17:41:43 on Sunday November 11th, 2012 as the setting sun was painting the clouds all shades of red and purple over the blue hills of Tortola. We could no longer see Thales’ sail behind us. The Skipper got a real kick out of catching and beating “that turkey” and his boat for which “he had paid at least three times more than what the Skipper had paid for his”. I think that Traveling Light earned her keep one more time… 

Such was the end of our race and this adventure. The Rally Web site shows us as the 8th boat to cross the finish line. The official handicapped results will be announced tonight at the Awards Dinner in Nanny Cay. The Skipper will be there. I am at the airport in Charlotte Amalie on my way to Turks and Caicos for Thanksgiving with family; we have a lot to be thankful for in our lives. Happy Thanksgiving to all….

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