SAGA Sailing Report
30 November 2013 | 730 NM to go
Greetings to all from the SAGA Adventure Holiday Group in mid Atlantic, proving that the adventure of life is not all over at 60. Mind you, with an average age of 69 in the crew, we must be getting retty close to the limit. The good news is that we are all relatively fit and well, and having the time of our lives so to hell with the misspent years behind us. I do not include our wonderful young skipper in these somewhat ageist and regretful comments, he's only 60 after all and without his firm and confident hand on our tiller we would not have been able to make this fabulous trip. While Lenny is a consumate seaman , hugely experienced and well practised in handling mixed ability crews, we three came to this venture from very different sailing backgrounds.
My own sailing experience consists exclusively of messing about in dinghies and small yachts in the Solent and Chichester harbour over the past 60 years. But nothing more substantial. Many years ago, I sailed with Lenny on one of my first few trips to France when Lenny was about 16, just starting his career with the Merchant Navy. Neither of us knew much about navigation at that time, and certainly I was more concerned with the comfort of my girl friend, than the study 0f the chart. Lenny had been helming for hours in bad visibility as we approached what I hoped was the Chichester bar buoy. He called to me "Johnny come and have a look at these clouds ahead of us, they look just like sheep." I stepped up into Gilcknockies tiny cockpit, he and I gazed at the sheeplike clouds."Johnny," said Len, after a long pause, "they are sheep!" Just then the waters around us grew horribly confused, and a loud foghorn started blaring. With horror, we realised (or Lenny did) that we were headed straight for the rocks on St. Catherine's Point and the choppy waters were in fact the dreaded race. The sheep were real, grazing on the high cliffs of St. Catherine's. The fog horn I'm sure was an alert lighthouse keeper trying to warn us . We got out of there somehow and made it back to Itchenor. None of this qualified me to make an Atlantic crossing, but of course Lenny went on to win his 2nd Mates Certificate in the Merchant Navy, and a whole host of navigational qualifications that have ideally suited him to his long career as a charter skipper for the last 25 years in his marvellous well sorted yacht.
She is now our safe and comfortable haven, powering through the giant swells of the Atlantic to the Caribbean, and a return to our loved ones (please don't be sick at this point).
And now for Richard. It is a great boon to have him aboard in spite of the fact that his total sailing experience consists of a weekend course in dinghies 30 years ago, followed by a 2 week bareboat charter in the Greek Islands. Significantly, on that holiday, Richard always came home first in the fleet. This says more about his character than any more seamanlike qualities, and having ridden hundreds of miles on our bicycles together, I know well Richard's courage and determination to face challenges. He never gives up and is always cheerful, a huge boon to all of us on board.
Jonathan, who does have several years of experience cruising in his Trintella, wins my award for bravery. He has long term knee and hip problems that make moving around on a bucking deck difficult and painful. He never complains though, and does sterling work in the cockpit, using his great strength to haul in the many sheets, spinnaker halyardsand guys that attach to the six cockpit winches. In addition he has cooked some marvellous meals for us and is by far our best blog writer.
I'm sure that some of our readers would love to get the inside track on the dark tensions and resentments that might be expected to emerge with four men sailing the Atlantic in a comparitively confined space. But, I am pleased to say that we have all settled in to this hugely different environment very well. The old saying of "All for one and one for all" covers the situation nicely. We support each other in our strengths, and help each other in our frailties. This seems to work.
Meanwhile, WFTM sails on, right now at 1300 on Sunday 30th slashing through a sparkling blue sea at 7 knots. We have a good wind from the north east that has taken us out of the flat calm of the last two days. The spinnaker is pulling hard, its lunch time, and thats the end of my ramblings. Please keep up your comments that we now receive from Cathleen via SSB, they are most welcome.
Love to you all from all of us.
Butch Squid-Hunter, Charter Party Organiser.