Old friends, New friends AND BOAT friends…
26 September 2008 | En Route to Gibraltar, approaching Gibraltar
Old friends, New friends AND BOAT friends...
This blog is a compilation of our many friends that both made this trip possible and continue to make the voyage our little "adventure". It is also a testament to the fact that no matter how large the world seems, or how far away from home you are (after more almost six months away from 'home' (our house in Lorne Park) I'm a little out of sorts as to where home is now!) it never ceases to surprise me when we run into a smiling face or familiar vessel that we've seen before.
I don't even know where to begin with regards to old friends. This trip, well our lives for that matter, are filled and made possible because of the amazing group of friends (and yes that includes our family). The world continues to turn as we float around the Mediterranean, and "life's responsibilities" require attention. Much of our mail is being redirected to Camino and Richmond, BC where Dragan or Inge and Bill (respectively) sort thru the junk and advise us of matters that require urgent attention. Notes flow in regarding tenant issues, many thanks to all who made our temporary "Blue Jay" resident 'at home', including Diver Dave, who's Bushwacker awaits his arrival aboard Windancer in December. And then there's our Griffy - Jennifer and Tony rescued us by taking our 'love hound', and now we hope she's helping their family recover from the loss of their Lab Riley. The Lepage family provided a summer retreat for our puppy at the cottage - fun times for all. And of course Bruce and Steph continue to help out with all the things life throws at us. Many thanks to all.
It has also been so amazing having our family visit us on the trip. From the huge part Uncle Bob played in the "delivery phase" of the trip, getting Windancer IV to Lagos, Portugal to when we were so luck to have sister-in-law Karen Walker bring Connor's and Jenny's cousins Emily and Kate to play in Barcelona and the Balearic Islands of Spain. To finish off the summer months, Uncle Dan, Aunt Nancy and Misa explored the French Riviera, Monaco and the border of Italy as Windancer sailed throughout southern France!
And blog comments and e-mails are also so comforting. Sure we're in the Med, exploring places and things I never thought we'd see, but the life of a nomad, no fixed address so to speak, is also sometimes "lonely". The comments, blog responses and emails provide that 'glue' that confirms our connection to HOME.
But new friends are always to be found. [Note to readers, this may mean nothing to many readers but a lot to some who took part in the trip so far]. Sure, the oceans are huge - well huge cannot even come close to describing the vastness of the open ocean - hundreds, actually thousands of miles of open water with NO land - NOTHING. Except every now and then a vessel, sometimes a cruise ship or commercial vessel that may respond to a VHF radio call and provide weather info on the upcoming passage. Others are private boats, like "Summer Breeze", a 40ish foot training sloop Windancer spotted on the horizon more than 300 miles from the Azores. As we motored towards a welcome landfall after our longest passage to date (1880 nm), we maneuvered within 50 feet of the vessel, exchanging kind words and requesting a meeting spot in Horta - Peter's Café Sport. A few days later we were reunited with Colin Thomas (captain and Yachtmaster Instructor) and his crew/students Simon from the UK and FBI American (whose name is withheld for security reasons) at the famous Azorean 'sport' establishment and enjoyed a potluck dinner aboard Windancer IV with other ARC participants. Why should I be surprised when I was walking down the dock in Gibraltar to have a 'friend' say "JOHN", and have Colin shake my hand. Of course, later that same day, Simon and American yachtmaster student also were reunited for beers at the local watering hole. Who knew we'd have friends in Gibraltar.
Then there was the sloop "Blue Jay" (no relation to the baseball team), that was rafted outside Windancer during our stay in Horta. Stefan was her captain and we enjoyed a few niceties as he and his crew utilized our boat as a platform to access the dock. Should I be surprised when I was motoring the dinghy towards the stern of Windancer while in Soller, Mallorca, only to have a guy rowing his tiny dinghy with two female passengers call out "JOHN"? I looked over to see Stefan with new crew/friends aboard, one of whom had been recently stung by a massive jellyfish leaving a foot-long whelt over her shoulder and chest. "Would you mind running us to shore?" No problem as I assist the injured crewmates to shore and find out that Stefan lost his dinghy motor on the crossing from the Azores to Gibraltar.
And new friends are always welcome. The sailing world is very close, and the catamaran sailing community even closer. We continue to run into (oops, since collisions are one of the biggest concerns for all boats - I should have said "happened upon") friendly vessels who welcome our attention. Our new friend and crewmate Steve Southwood is also well known for his vocal comments and insight into the Lagoon 420 Hybrid (I have met three L420 owners who all know or know of Steve).
The ARC Europe group provided the perfect atmosphere for developing new found friendships. We met some amazing people aboard participating ARC vessels - Sea Squared, Fuerte, Kalliope and Spica, just to name a few. As it turns out, several of them talked us into extending our cruising sights to include Italy. In particular, SPICA crewmember Maris Lyons opened her doors to us in Lavanga (read previous blog entries on Italy). We are now finalizing plans to have Maris join the crew of Windancer on the return ARC voyage to St. Lucia in November. And her partner (and my new dentist) Michel is threatening to meet us in Caribbean to sail/race aboard his J109 that is berthed in Antigua. Maybe Windancer will return to another Antigua race week in 2009.
And then there is the Canadian couple aboard Quickbeam who assisted Windancer in mooring in Marina d'Roma. John and Roberta (Bobby) hale from Queen City Yacht Club on Toronto Island and live(d) [they have sold everything and moved aboard their C & C 38 fulltime two years ago] in Oakville, less than 20 minutes from our land-based home. It's also not surprising that John, after selling his advertising company, worked for a short time at West Marine in Oakville and remembers not only me, but Wildchild skipper Dave Joakim - what a small world.
And recently we've happened upon new friends in every harbour over the last two weeks. In Siricusa, Sicily we met John and Jillian who are delivering their Lagoon 420 "Stevee Jean" home to Sharks Bay, Australia, then our Maltese connection where we met Jim and Ged who are heading home to the UK after completing a three year global circumnavigation aboard their Westerly 42, and George and Sandra aboard their 42' sloop who rafted outside Windancer in Marina de Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia due to lack of space in the marina. George and Sandra were Austrian and traded ˝ English and ˝ German stories with Ziggy, Connor and Jenny over several bottles of wine and George's homemade (BOATMADE) fresh bread and local Parmasan cheese - ohhh how we will miss Italy.
So now we're continuing on towards Gibraltar to complete a few, much needed repairs (mostly only minor in nature) and meet our buddy Mark Fletcher on the 28th and onwards to explore Morocco, say goodbye to Mark and make our way to the Canary Islands to welcome brother-in-law Bruce and family for the return ARC crossing to St. Lucia.