Thursday, 24 September 2009

The final Blog

How can I sum up the last six months.... probably the best would be to do the same as we have done on each of the legs with the crew - best bits, worst bits and funniest bits.
Let's get the worst bits over with first - seasick crew! There is nothing quite like being seasick and having been there myself I could fully empathise with the crew. I always felt really bad for crew, knowing that they had already been through more than I could ever imagine in the fight against cancer, to come away on a trip that is supposed to be fun and then end up seasick is horrible... the worst places being rather long passages out of the River Humber (wind against tide) and I must say especially coming out of the Bristol Channel. We had a small window where the winds were going NW, and we had to take it. Unfortunately it was still pretty rough after a few days of big storms and a couple of the crew ended up being seasick for about 24hrs - this was also one of our longest passages with nowhere to stop, but, Land's End appeared, the wind died down and the next day Frank cooked the best breakfast ever which hopefully made it all worth while to our birthday boy.
My personal worst moment was the morning we went through Tower Bridge- after minimal sleep from sailing from Dover overnight and up the Thames, we ended up with water in the fuel, resulting in Tracey the legend engineer helping us out. However, I had to do a simple filter change in the morning, and through my own fault (lack of engineering experience) I couldn't get the engine to start again... not a good position to be in when we where about to stop the city so we could pass through Tower Bridge! But, after stressing about it for a bit, I called my friend Haig who talked me through the procedure to find where my problem was (taking in air somewhere). I finally got it sorted and the engine started only minutes before Ellen and Emily arrived.... that was probably one of my happiest moments too! Also a great sense of achievement and confidence boost to have sorted the problem.

The funniest would be the general craic - as my Irish friends would say. We had so many giggles on board it's hard to distinguish. Competitive Irish snap and UNO, some of the descriptions that came up in Articulate (Ben Murphy's Bangkok comes to mind), and the creation of poems and raps. We had a hilarious team debrief in my 'Captain's Cabin' - and anyone who has been on Scarlet knows that this consisted of a shoebox twin cabin that Karen and I shared, but somehow we managed to fit both Jo and Simon in after an overnight sail to Abersoch from Holyhead....
Some of the comedians spring to mind - Paul Gavin and Vicky Stokes where hilarious all week- Paul was Vicky's 'slave', the same as the Jake Jones - Olly Rofix duo- always up to mischief! Gerrard MacAuley was also brilliant at keeping us giggling. Generally, just people being themselves and having a good time.

The best bits - without a doubt meeting and making friends with some of the most amazing people I have ever had the privilege of sailing with! We would become like a family on board, everyone would settle in within a day or so and by the end of the week it was banter all round. It still amazes me that we had 17 fantastic legs with no serious issues and big bonding as a group of friends. There were many great moments, a walk along the sea shore that became an adventure in long grass, seeing our young crew stand up and give their presentations to hospitals with huge smiles, confidence and giggles, coming up on deck and seeing the boys dancing on the back of the boat, I could go on for days remembering all the fantastic times we've had.
Exploring the British coastline with all her wonders - beautiful cliff faces, huge mountains up in Scotland, some of the most spectacular scenery I have every sailed in. We were also incredibly lucky that we could spend a night on anchor off the Farne Islands amongst thousands of breeding birds and seals. The ocean wildlife was just incredible, we managed to see everything I was hoping to - dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals and basking sharks (incredible!). The bird life was spectacular, especially seeing all the puffins on the Farne Islands and sailing past Bass Rock, which from a distance looks like it's covered in snow, then when you get close you see that it's all birds - thousands of gannets nesting on the rock.
The sailing - fantastic sailing. We had great days in perfect sailing conditions and Scarlet just loved it. There is nothing better than the moment you switch off the engines and the boat takes off as her sails power up, and to be able to share that moment with so many people this year and for them to all enjoy it so much was incredible. Scarlet is a fantastic boat and an absolute pleasure to sail. We couldn't have had a better boat for the voyage, so again, a huge thanks goes to the Applebey family for letting us use her.
Ellen's talks were incredible - she has such an amazing life and is so inspirational. My best moments where when we could get our crew to the talks, they would all come back so inspired and amazed by what an incredible person Ellen really is, yet so down to earth when it comes to spending time with young people.
Our team - to Frank, Jo S, Tracy, Joey B and Emma - it has been the most incredible year and fantastic working with you all. To Simon - you where there for us the whole way round, even in the early hours of the morning always with a big smile. Karen, my first mate who became an incredible friend. We spent a lot of time together, lived in a very small space and never a single argument - you absolute legend!
Our homecoming was just incredible - many of our crew came down to the Solent for the weekend to welcome us home and got on board red jet 4 to escort us from the boat show over to Cowes. Solent Rib Charters had 9 boats out carrying friends and family and the weather was just perfect. Having Ellen, Ross and Jason join us on board for the final sail to Cowes was really special, then getting to UKSA and catching up with so many people was brilliant. They all played a part in completing the voyage so successfully, and of course big celebrations where in order. However, it was also just a little bit sad, as it was......... the end.

1 comment:

  1. I always felt really bad for crew, knowing that they had already been through more than I could ever imagine in the fight against cancer.
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