Final leg from Antigua to England
Our departure on the twenty third of June from Horta was reasonable uneventful. The water depth at the fuel jetty was not sufficient for us to come alongside. Plan "B" was to unload all our fuel jugs and carry them up to the fuel pump. As we had experienced in our short stay in Horta the people are wonderful. A small truck came alongside and on to this we loaded the fuel for the short trip along the marina to our yacht. Several trips later and she was fueled up and ready to go.
The weather forecast look really good so off to Customs for our exit papers. Of course everyone else had the same idea about the weather so there was a line up of eager sailors hoping to depart that day. The morning rolled on so we decided lunch at Pete@@apos@@s Sports Bar would be in order. As usual the food was magnificent and the service by the staff was fantastic. It was just so tempting to stay a little longer but to sea we must go. As we sailed out of the Port we looked back with very fond memories of Horta. The food and beers the wonderful little cobblestoned winding streets the magnificent scenery was amazing but what stood out the most was the fabulous way the locals greeted us and welcomed us with open arms. One of the most beautiful places I have sailed into for so many reasons.
Alongside us as we left was a yacht of about forty feet, heading in the same direction, Falmouth in the UK. It was great fun as we quickly hoisted every piece of sail we could as the crew on the smaller yacht through out the challenge. Within minutes however the winds increased, we powered up and waved good bye to them.
The distance to England was about one thousand one hundred nautical miles. Five or six days sail we hoped for. But as usual the best plans and dreams are some what hard to grasp. A wonderful beam reach for the first one hundred miles and then of course the wind came on the nose.
The winds by now were much more predictable. No more of the massive rain storms coming through so we could sail with confidence at good speed. An amazing journey with such a range of weather. At times we were sailing through fog so thick you could hardly see the bow and at other times rain but never the less it was great. Shipping is always an important consideration and the closer we got to England the more ships we passed. Some times at night passing eight or nine. Tacking and jibing knowing that those big guys don@@apos@@t often give way and of course that is understandable.
At times the winds dropped to zero and we slopped around for hours at a time but usually we sailed along quite nicely.
We drew close to England approaching from the South West. A magnificent sight was the St Mary@@apos@@s Islands. The lights twinkling in the distance to as if say welcome to the UK. We then tacked heading North of East, along the beautiful coast of England. A flotilla of yachts were heading West as we came closer to Falmouth on the ninth day into our voyage. As some would no as you approach there is a need to tend more Northerly and so we sailed very close to the coast passing magnificent homes perched high on the hills. A little further on we passed many ships at anchor we guessed waiting to enter the port.
Several Navy Frigates came along to have a close look at our yacht sailing along nicely with a full set of sails up. Just a little further and we could hear the bell on the light house at the entrance to Falmouth Harbor. The sails were lowered and the motor started for our last few moment together on this wonderful yacht. Entering the harbor was magnificent. Hundreds of yachts on moorings, ships alongside and the harbor traffic a frenzy. We must have still been a sight for many yachts and power boats came alongside to welcome us. After a short while the guys from the Pendennis Ship Yard came alongside and directed us to a mooring where she would lay for a while until hall out.
For me this was a rather emotional time. I was now leaving a yacht that I had skippered halfway around the world through some of most unforgiving oceans of our planet. She did a fine job but I will never forget the words Fedor said to me twelve months before this voyage. "Look after her and she will look after you".
I guess this has been the most amazing journey one could ever dream of let alone accomplish.
Along the way I have met so many wonderful people but I say without hesitation the crews who have sailed with me will be remembered and admired for the rest of my life.
However in particular I would sincerely like to thank Fedor and Oscar for entrusting their yacht to a bushy from Western Australia and giving me the trip of a lifetime. But even more than that I would like to thank them both for the wonderful friendship we have made.
In closing for I would simply like to say:
There are good ships, there are wood ships, there are ships that sail the seas! But the best ships are friendships and may they always be!