Like the A-Team of 1980s fame, we, a rag-tag group of middle-aged oddballs (superpowers include mushroom foraging, spotting flowers from a distance, coding, snoring, and making lists), put together a somewhat hair-brained scheme, engaged in some prep (well, maybe a lot) boarded the ocean-going equivalent of a tricked-out van and managed to pull off a seemingly impossible task. We are indeed heroes in our own minds, and if this were the real A-Team, I’d be a middle-aged Mr. T (except for the white, fat, soft, and ain’t nobody anywhere afraid of me part).
When last you ventured into the dark recesses of this blog, we had just bravely fought off space pirates, defeated boredom, and made first contact with alien creatures. The end of the trip is in sight, the crew is exhausted, and it is time to pack clothes.
Post Pirate Let Down
After the great pirate excitement, the off-watch crew largely went back to sleep, knowing the journey would be complete after one more wake-up. As the only person on board whose spouse was not part of the entire voyage crew, I was very anxious to get home. For the various reasons outlined in earlier posts, I spent several months more than anticipated away from my family and was in severe withdrawal.
Grenada In Sight
To fully appreciate this feat and the emotions involved, you need to remember a few key facts:
- All my luggage lost on the way to South Africa for three days
- A shortened safari due to the lost luggage incident- rain every day
- Unexpected extra 6-8 weeks in Cape Town
- Stacey, Eric, and I lived as a non-romantic throuple in an Airbnb in Cape Town (no picnic for them!)
- the ideal weather window slowly fading away
- locals saying, “We’re not sure why you refer to it as the Cape of Good Hope; we refer to it as the Cape of Storms”
- shipping the pallets delayed due to shipping problems during COVID
- pallets transferred from ship to airplane to make it to S. Africa in time
- logistics issues getting our gear from the customs agent to the boat (not the customs agent’s fault)
- most mornings consumed by attempting to get insurance for the crossing, registration with government agencies, and other bureaucratic nonsense
- bartenders and wait staff in Cape Town recognizing us by sight
- my personal worst docking ever on a short test hop to Laangenban
- departure from Cape Town in the dark
- 38 days of sailing roughly 6000 miles
- roughly 4000 of the 6000 outside the range of rescue helicopters
- roughly 3000 transited without ever seeing a cargo ship on radar or AIS
- a slaughterhouse’s worth of blood on the sugar scoops thanks to Dinna-the-scourge-of-the-sea
- what felt like 200 pounds of Ostrich sausage (sorry, SA friends, this one you can keep to yourselves)
- for most of the crew, almost 38 days of some state of seasickness
- 20 days of sweating buckets
- The crew was stuck on board with me for the entire time.
And finally, after the blue water sailing, making water, standing watch, checking bilges, cleaning out bilges when the black water tank cracked, cooking at sea, sleeping on virtually every horizontal service of Wild Rumpus, weathering some serious squalls, gorging myself on Dinna’s cooking, not gorging myself on Bernard’s cooking (kidding), surfing down some crazy high seas at almost 20 knots, chafing problems on a halyard, and cementing friendships this blog entry represents the end of Atlantic crossing from Cape Town to Grenada.
The question I am most often asked is whether I would do “it” again. The “it,” I am sure, refers to the 6000-mile crossing. The askers don’t really understand the scope of the question and all that was involved in making the 6000 miles happen. But, if the question is, would I do the entire experience again, my answer is an unequivocal no. I have no desire to engage in the logistical juggling and stress of shopping for and buying another boat, provisioning it, getting a crew together, and then planning the crossing.
Whether I would travel 6000 miles by sailboat again is a more complex question. Since the completion of the trip to Grenada, I’ve done (with Stacey and Eric and other crew) another 2000 miles taking the boat first from Grenada to St Thomas and then from St Thomas to Freeport, Bahamas. Each trip has been enjoyable, though none yet included Teresa for a passage. I’ll reserve judgment on another longer trip until Teresa is a member of the crew with me, and then I go where she goes, as has been my goal with this entire endeavor.
The Voyage in a Few Photos
We made it to Grenada, anxious to get to land and call the trip done. Our first view was too early in the morning to actually approach.
By the time we made it to Port Louis on Grenada, it was daylight and the marina office was open. We were too busy to take pictures because we had to remember where things like dock lines and fenders were stored. And then, we had to remember how to affix them to the boat.
The approach was easy enough, though the docking was a test of my intestinal fortitude. Port Louis was my first time docking Wild Rumpus since my very poor docking on the shakedown cruise in Laangenban. And, this was my first time backing in Wild Rumpus in a Mediterranean mooring situation.
Once on Grenada, we ate some lunch, had some drinks, and stared at each other. Seriously, we didn’t have much to say since we just spent months together on a boat at sea. And then, Bernard said “well, despite my last several months of saying we should not get tattoos, that tattoos are stupid, that people who get tattoos are stupid, I now see the error of my ways and think we should go get the tattoos we earned for this enormous achievement.” [I may be paraphrasing.]
I know I’ve posted these earlier, but this seems like a good place to show off the ink again. I’ll post them in order of cool. First up, mine are super traditional — just a swallow on one arm and then an anchor with shellback on the other (swallow is for sailing 5000 miles in the ocean, anchor for crossing an ocean, and shellback for crossing the equator by boat).
Next up, Bernard got all of the earned sailor tattoos on one shoulder.
And, to keep him heading in the correct direction, he got a cool compass on his other shoulder.
Finally, in the coolest tattoo design, Dinna created a turtle that encompassed the swallow and anchor that she put on her calf.
Stayed tuned for fixing stuff in Grenada, sailing Grenada to St. Thomas, Honey Bader’s second stabbing (no Bernard, was nowhere near us this time), fixing things in St. Thomas, a season in St Thomas, including teaching an ASA 106 aboard Wild Rumpus, and more. The initial passage is complete, but the adventure continues!
Finally, please submit any questions, and we’ll try to address those in upcoming posts. The best way to send me those questions is by email to email@example.com.