I found it impossible to write anything meaningful on leaving Elinca in Stornoway. Emotion was running high and there was a lot to do in a short time. We arrived at 4 am Saturday morning after a cracking last sail across from Skye, drank some champagne and then went to bed so that we could get up at 10am and start the big clean. The Stornoway homeless shelter did well out of us and the rest went into the bin leaving Elinca possibly cleaner than when we picked her up last September. More family met us in Stornoway. Jane (my mum) had sailed up from Holyhead as part of the delivery crew, Raffe’s mum Pippa met us on the dock side and Cliggys mum and brother arrived on the 9pm ferry. The return delivery, affectionately termed leg 13, then extended into Sunday and Monday. We seemed reluctant to leave each other so all stayed in an 8 bed hostel dormitory on the Saturday night. On Sunday the group split in two with James, Jon, Alice and Andy heading across to Ullapool on the one Ferry and Clare, Raffe, Jane, Pippa and Lynda taking the scenic route down to Harris and across to Skye.
On the way down we got a bit reflective and talked about what we were going to miss most, what we had learned and what we found the hardest.
Unanimously the final Atlantic crossing seemed to be the hardest bit for the long timers, a long time at sea when we were all physically so tired. Nevertheless this is also the leg that we dug deepest and into ourselves and used the ‘living with people’ skills that we had built up over previous legs. Some crew members told me that they had found life easier since returning from the boat, that they had more confidence and in some cases ‘more mojo’. Others it was a turning point in careers or relationships and a new leaf was turned on their return. For me it’s too hard to think about the trip as a thing that has ended. There have been so many spin-off ideas flying around that the general feeling seems to be ‘lets have more adventures’, ‘let’s do more sailing, more walking and let’s meet up more often’. So many people have told me that they had forgotten how good it is to be around people.
I can say now, without leaping to touch the nearest piece of wood, that everything went well. Give or take the odd moment everyone got on well and better than well. No-one was seriously hurt and the boat is still in a condition now that it could set off tomorrow and do it all again. For James, Jon, Colette and I this is the best possible outcome that we could have dreamed of and all that remains now is have a rest and then to plan the next adventure.
I’m really going to miss Elinca over the next few months, not for the boat itself but for the people that were on it and the atmosphere. I’m going to try and make real life a bit more like Elinca.
p.s that’s the mushy bit over. Future posts from me will only contain amusing photos or plans for future expeditions.