For months every time we have discussed the Elinca ‘return home’ party we haven’t been able to stop myself referring to it as the ‘leaving party’. For us onboard we are leaving the boat that has become our home and the way of life that has been so all consuming for the last 9 months. As we sighted Pendennis Castle on Friday there were cheers of excitement but more than one crew member had tears in their eyes. We saw Nicks parents and James mum waving from the top of the cliff (even though it was 7am) and my parents were just around the corner in a Cornish Crabber that they had hired for the weekend to see us in. I’m finding it very hard to write about this incredible weekend in a way that does it justice. There were so many reunions of old crew members, of families that had not seen each other since September or in some cases much longer, so many stories and thoughts that I can’t fit them all into a book let alone this blog.
We tied up at Port Pendennis Marina in nearly the exact same spot we left last September. At the wheel was Nick, the longest serving member of the crew who had just skippered us across the channel from Brittany whilst James and I hovered in the background putting things into boxes and trying to sort our nine months worth of lost property. We knew the moment that we touched land that we wouldn’t have a moment to ourselves and sure enough they began to arrive. First came crew members from previous legs. They collected belongings that had been leant to or abandoned on Elinca leaving gaps in the familiar scenery. The barograph and barometer are now gone, the guitar is back with Andrea, the books are gone from the bookshelf (with the exception of a few paperbacks so terrible that no one is confessing to owning them). Next came Peter Flutter who’s was smiling as he took our broken forehatch away to be fixed leaving us stress free to enjoy the Falmouth sunshine and the steady stream of people that had begun to arrive. Richard and Jane Thorpe (my mum and dad) tied their little boat up to the side of Elinca and presented us with some ‘Wordles’ … more on these later as they are better seen than described. As we were not due in officially until the Saturday, Fridays celebrations took place unofficially in the bear garden of the Chain Locker where 30 or 40 people sat until closing time with a view of the river swapping hugs and stories. With a few exceptions we saved our energy for the Saturday evening.
Zoe, Andrea, Andy Taylor and Andy Kitching must take credit for Saturday.
Elinca’s triumphant return to Great Britain was celebrated on Saturday with a very special garden party, video screening and evening dinner. It was glorious day and a lot of fun!
From 2pm Friends, family and crew packed the boat to feat on a selection of picnic delights and have a final look around, performing an impromptu buoyancy test . Guests left feeling refreshed, and in high spirits!
From 5.30 Adventure 2013 trip highlights were shown in the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. There was high praise for the immense effort by Clare, Zoe, Linda and Andy K in the preparation of these videos. If “Cliggy Potter” ever sees the light of day you’ll understand just how professional their work was. The results were outstanding and with so much of the footage breath-taking, you really do see why this trip was worth the full-on 2 years of planning and 8 months at sea.
At 8pm we sat down for Dinner with speeches, awards and an even a sing song. There are so many people who have provided time and support to this project, in-fact we think that everyone in the room had contributed!, that they couldn’t all be thanked but special recognition was made to Colette, Jon and Clare who each received engraved sailing knives. James our skipper received a hip flask and there were flowers and photos for other contributors. After being so nice we then played dirty, with Clare making a series of special recognition awards. These included the “Foghorn” award for vocal volume and the “Tinder” award. Enquire discretely for further details! We wanted to give a special award to StormGeo for their help in forecasting but forecaster Wouter had retired early. We will post our thankyou to the office and thankyou to Wouter for making the effort to come down, it was nice to meet you and put a face to a name. Rounding up proceedings Dick Patterson led us all in a rendition of a fitting sea song celebrating Elinca’s safe return and we played piñata with a giant cardboard penguin!
Maybe one day we’ll bash a giant cardboard something else..?
This morning we are motor sailing up a suspiciously calm Irish Sea. The mood on board is subdued but quietly happy. We are doing a rolling watch system that allows for three hours on and nine hours off to help us catch up on sleep with just two people on deck at a time. This is giving us rare opportunity to talk one to one. I’ve spent an hour or two at the wheel chatting to Raffe and recounting many of my favourite moments from the trip and from the weekend. I was worried that I would be struck with depression on leaving Falmouth and leaving Nick on the dock as we sailed away with a skeleton crew of 8 was certainly hard. This trip is different though, it’s a gentle wind down to the end. We have Clare, James, Raffe, Andy T, Alice, Jon and Cliggy (all of the unemployed crew). We also have Pete Lamb to add some enthusiasm and remind us that even a trip up the Irish Sea is still an exciting sea voyage. We are heading for Holyhead where we are looking forward to seeing my Grandparents and being joined by Jane Thorpe (mum) and Lynda. We will keep writing the blog a while longer, whilst the boat is still sailing… and then maybe we’ll log back on at some point in the future to let you know how sailors returning from Antarctica adjust to the real world. Hopefully at some point in the not too distant future this page will be alive again with details of the next adventure…