History often repeats itself
07 December 2012 | Atlantic Ocean
Part 2: Christopher Columbus sailed with his brother Bartholmew and created the trade routes we still use to this day. He sailed out from Seville via Cadiz, to take on water, via the Canaries to the New World. After achieving their goal in 1492 they returned to Europe as heroes. They completed this feat a further three times and started the Spanish expansion West. They weren't the first to cross the Atlantic but were made famous because they created the trading routes. Incidently, they passed by St Lucia on one voyage and their navigator came up with this name.
Some eighty odd years later an Englishman from nearby Plymouth rose to fame from being a shipwright to be the first Englishman to circum-navigate the globe. After proving his seamanship in clashes with the Spanish in the Caribbean he commissioned (his patron was a Mr Hatton of Hatton Garden fame whose coat of arms includes a deer - hence the name change) and built his ship, The Pelican, (with his brother's help as designer and shipwright). After receiving papers from QEI, Drake set out with a small fleet of ships commissioned with the task of disrupting the Spanish trade and finding new colonies with which to trade. His success laid the foundations of the British as a force as a sea-faring nation and beginning of our trade throughout the world. The design of the Golden Hinde with it's revolutionary "fighting tops" - sort of enlarged crows-nests on each mast allowed Drake's crew to get the upper-hand when approaching other boats. A few years later, this new design along with poor tactics by the Spanish caused the Armada to be easily repelled and ultimately decimated. Thus providing the opportunity for British to look forward to the start of building trade links and developing the Commonwealth.
By coincidence or was it fate, Lizzie and I moved into London Bankside in October 2009. We had a welcome house party on the replica of the Golden Hinde and my fascination with sailing the Atlantic began. I had a 45 foot sailing boat, a yearning to learn to sail to my limits and a vivid imagination. Surely what heroes could do 4 or 5 centuries before with wood, tar, hemp and basic navigation aids ordinary blokes like me could do with the help of modern materials and satellite navigation. The only constant being the obstacle itself and the weather.
In Drake's day even the cabin boys were hand-picked for their abilities to do all the task need to keep a boat at sea. Rules were enforced rigorously and the men were hard and fearless. My task was easy after I chose a brother to partner me the rest would fall in to place. I have four brothers, Andy the eldest ran away to sea (well the Isle of Man) nearly 50 years ago has become accustom to large ferries and cruise liners and was a non-starter on account that Brenda probably wouldn't let him go. Glynn, number 4 out of 5 had commitments at home bring up his two children who are his pride and joy, would also not make my list. That left Peter; my youngest brother, who has served with distinction in the navy most notably saving Hong Kong from hordes of boat people before taking up life as a security consultant and underwater expert in his spare time and Keith; soon to be retired, never sailed before with a dodgie back and on medication for pain relief. After much thought I chose Keith. After losing his life long partner and soul mate, the lovely Rita, in a tragic accident in Cancun a year or so earlier, I hoped this would provide him with a new purpose and give him a challenge to help heal his loss. Peter would have other life chances and would not begrudge his brother an opportunity like this. Having a brother as part of your team seems to work for my heroes and Keith would do me just fine. The next two picked themselves. My new (to be then) son-in-law Dan, knows a bit about being on water after many years rowing on the Thames and since he works in advertising must be good with communication, right! Neil, my handyman friend, who looks after our home in Portugal and the boat in Vilamoura Marina would install all the new equipment so was an obvious choice also. Though Neil has never owned a boat he has been around them for many years building or replacing parts for others. He too is semi-retired and is always talking about his past exploits I thought this would add to his list and verify his "Moby Dick" stories. We four would make up the bulk of the team of five (80%) and we would find the final person to compliment our skills and fill in any gaps nearer the departure time. NB: Pareto defined the 80:20 rule as common in nature. I often quote these figure and everyone just seems to believe me so this might be a good time for you to check me out and look this up under Pareto Effect.
Our first tasks were to define what we would need to refit the boat and bring it up to date. Then gain any skills or qualifications required to complete the task whilst installing the equipment and gaining extra experience whilst using it. Our target was to have everything ready by mid 2012.
How we progressed and who helped us is covered in my next instalment.