Land Ho! that cry at first site of land came in the dark of the night where actually the glow of distant lights extends the viewing by many miles. This is not good if you have any children on board because it creates a perception that we’ll be there in a short while when the opposite is the only truth. So with the kid in some of my crew the ever annoying, “Our we there yet” or “How much longer” is enough to make a Captain think of shortening his crew list. But I persevered and sailed on. Actually motored on ironically after 16 blustery days at sea because the last day becalmed. After an entire day of sailing patiently at 4-6 knots with the sails flopping on every large wave passing sideways, for the sake of the boat, its sails and our sanity, down came the sails and on revved one of our 54 HP diesels to propel us at a happy 6.5 knots.
There was beauty and fun in that last gorgeous day on the big Atlantic. When we decided to drop the sails we turned into the wind (as required in such a task) and when complete with sail flaked and tucked in its lazy bag, we all took a swim. Now this conclusion was a no brainer for me, the walrus that I am, and I was the first overboard. Mark followed as did First Mate Andrew with a bit of reluctance. The conversation that ensued previous to our stopping centered around the sea monsters, serpents and unknown creatures that must lie beneath in such deep waters way out in the Atlantic ocean just waiting for some poor thoughtless soul to dive overboard to take an innocent dip. So the others had not only hesitation but resolve to stay on the boat. Of course that wasn’t the case for our young crazy sailor from Maine, Bret. And by then I had been floating in the water holding onto the floating safety line we threw out with a buoy on its end being dragged along at 3 knots having the time of my life in 86 degree water. The others had done their swim in lightning speed in less than 2 minutes and were back onboard wandering if I was to shortly become bait for that unknown beneath the sea. As time went by and I still existed out there in the ocean the boys jumped in again and out. Now it was time for them to jeer and poke at the only two holdouts to not make the plunged. Finally our ‘I don’t like water’ crew member from Adventure Connections jumped overboard, not because he couldn’t take the jeering but because he knew he would regret missing that opportunity of a lifetime. Congratulations Nate. Not to be the only pulled our swimming star into the water without any further hesitation, Emily and everyone enjoyed their swim (or plunged in and out) in the deepest water they’d ever swam in with a sense of accomplishment. I was still hanging on being pulled along with my face in the water (small mask on) looking in hopes to see one of those deep Atlantic sea monsters. The crew had to coax me back in the boat and reluctantly I did. A highlight of the crossing was marked off by all.
So we did reach land in the middle of the darkest night and crossed the finish line at 0430 to the fan fare of a couple of night duty ARC workers who actually made us feel special. After we blindly meandered our way past the finish line through a maze of anchored boats, many without any anchor lights on, we found the narrow entrance to the marina and tucked the big wide INNcredible Sea Lodge into its berth stern in (backwards). Tided up, engines off, the little welcoming committee was there dockside in the wee hours to greet us, welcome us, congratulate us and pass to each of us a rum punch and gift basket of St. Lucian fruits and their Chairman’s reserve bottle of rum. Group pictures onboard followed by that first step on land. Actually the dock, as most floating ones do, moved a lot like the boat so the sensation of solid mother earth was waiting for us at the end of the dock. The sudden lack of motion was dizzying and although it was good to stretch the legs in long steps no sudden calm became us and we retreated back to our cozy rock-a-by life on the boat for a few winks before the sun rose.
How we fared in the big scheme of competition was yet to be determined as more than 60 boats remain crossing the Atlantic , some 600 miles out still. But we have no hidden ridiculous thoughts that we need be at the awards ceremony to stage ourselves to collect any award other than we did it with the absolute lowest number of sailing experience years combined of a crew. For example, our mentors (who we never saw once while crossing) had the combined crew experience of five lifetimes plus their sixth crew with probably more years than any of us for an estimated total of over 250 years of combined sailing experience onboard. Our combined years of sailing experience for all six crew members totals less than 30. So I proposed that the sailing judges divide all scores by the number of years of sailing experience on each boat for the real results of achievement. Maybe we should stay for those awards ceremony. That’s okay we’ll miss it any way and be back out there exploring the hidden gems of the Caribbean.
All crew have touched land, tyed one on yesterday, and we’re accounted for when we arrived, but are all passed out on the boat now safely at dock. Happy, yes. Healthy? we’ll see how they feel when they wake.