Imagine, that haunting song by John Lennon, is to me one of the truly great of all time. Sadly it is also the name adorning the upturned rump of a 50′ aluminium ocean greyhound in a corner of the marina. It is a sad boat, its furled sails mildew covered, its lines unkempt, its decks and cabin top grey with dirt and of course it has a bad story to tell. Apprehended with her crew on the high seas, she was found to be carrying several tons of cocaine and now her crew languish behind bars, whilst she – innocent of all crime – rots slowly in this forgotten corner.
Talking of stories, Christian told of his trip up high into Arctic waters where he met an iceberg, which smashed open one side of his bows. Turning so that the undamaged side faced wind and waves, he sailed his boat back to shelter, where he set to repairing the damage. Meanwhile his crew disappeared in a puff of smoke. We swapped tales of our time high up in NW Scotland and Shetland, where he told of being at anchor in 25 knots. He had an inflatable kayak, which he loaded with his bicycle and rucksack and duly paddled for shore – into the wind. He only just made it and somehow slung his sack on his back grabbed his bicycle (carried in a kayak!!) and began to climb the dockside ladder. But his glasses were salted up, and he is blind without them and he missed a handhold ending up careering into the sea – clutching his bicycle and sack.
It was quite a while before he bobbed to the surface, for there is not much of Christian to bob! Of course being Christian he duly made it and pedaled off, water streaming behind. What a guy.
Several days ago, 500 or so miles away from here, a Jester boat, Minke, lost its rudder. Another, Good Report, diverted to assist and for long periods towed the disabled Minke, arriving today. This is the true story of the Jester Challenge, one which it is not my remit to tell – that is for those amazing 2 seamen (George and Duncan) who made port together through thick and thin. It is one hell of a story, one which epitomizes the true Jester spirit.
We believe that despite the weather and the loss of one boat’s rudder, this is the very first Jester Azores Challenge where all competitors have finished. We can be rightly proud of that I think.
Returning to Pippin, below is a photograph taken as the storm closed in around Pippin. The blue marks the frontal rain as it approached and then enveloped the boat.
So, I have been safely docked here for 5 days and I am still all over the place. This has been an adventure that took me to my limits and beyond and whilst I am proud of the achievement and grateful for all the lovely comments I have received, I know too that there were times when I didn’t manage terribly well. But in the final analysis, I achieved it and no one can take that from me.