Freedom - Blog 17 Freedom Wednesday 6th December 2023.
Greetings fighter followers.
What a night that was ! After a breezey day on Tuesday with big sea and Atlantic swell in full song, we contemplated dinner options. As the rocking and rolling was tantamount to Bill Haley on steroids, it was very quickly decided that simple was the order of the day. So freshly baked baguettes with hot dog sausages, fried onions mustard and ketchup was great fare. And if I’m being honest I had been looking forward to them ever since I found out that they were in the pantry shortly after leaving Gran Canaria. Some fresh fruit (the oranges are lasting well and are delicious) a cup of tea and a couple of squares of chocolate and we were all fed. I was on ‘dog watch’ tonight (3am to 5am) so after a quick brief from the skipper as to desired course and action to be taken if the forecasted winds came through (building during the night possibly upto 27-28 knots),
I went to bed. Early but really, when on that watch the only decent rest you get is before duty not after. It’s quite a surreal feeling, lying in your bunk snuggled up to the hull trying and gleam some cooler temperature from the plastic, ear pressed up against the side of the boat, 2 inches the other side is the Atlantic Ocean whooshing by. You become quite a tuned to the speed of the water and the different sounds it makes, so much so you have a pretty good idea of what’s going on up top before leaving your bunk. Not due to wake until 2.40am I was awoken by a sudden, quite hard rounding up of the boat (the broach). My bed was at about 45* and with such little head room it proved quite a challenge to clamber out. I was not concerned one bit. I felt Freedom slow considerably while she dealt with the conditions, and knowing CJ was at the helm I was confident there was nothing to worry about. As expected I could sense the boat levelling out , bearing away from the wind and carrying on on the desired bearing. Such a majestic boat in these conditions. I remained in bed unable to go back to sleep. I lay listening to the wind, which had clearly lived up to the forecast, listening to the water rushing by. Sometimes the waves from the confused sea state crashing against the hull. I like to imagine what the boat looks like from the ocean as she bashes her way along, thinking of her passengers ‘snuggled up in their bunks’. It really does get the imagination firing. After an hour I went up on deck 30 mins early to relieve CJ. There he was looking fairly relaxed in 30 knots, main sheet in hand.
‘having fun ?’ I enquired.
‘Hmmmmm’ he replied.
We had a chat about action we could take, if any, and settled for carrying on ‘as is’ for a little while longer to see how things developed. With Chris off to his bed, I was alone on deck in big breeze, big seas and a moonless sky. Following instructions closely left me by the skipper. What a hoot! You know when people say things like ‘it made me feel alive’ and ‘ that gets the heart pumping’, well, those conditions last night certainly did that, and I loved it. This was why I signed up for the trip. I wanted to see the ocean doing this sort of thing. Not a patch on what it can really do, but even so, it is so impressive.
The night went on in this manner, with more watch changes, Stuart relieving me and then Simon then Ian. Things calmed down a little around 9am and sailing was a little more manageable. Today has been variable with the forecast to increase again later. We’ve had a couple of rains squalls but all in a days sailing.
With a little over 300nm to go to the finish the light at the end of the tunnel is in site.
As mentioned previously, I will be sad that this particular adventure will be complete, but will be for ever grateful that I had the opportunity to do it. As Simon so eloquently wrote yesterday there are too people in my life that I would like to mention.
Firstly and most importantly, my wife Christine. Without hesitation she encouraged me to pull the trigger and sign up. Knowing that an ocean crossing was something I have wanted to do for a long time, she was nothing other than totally supportive. I know that she will have worried pretty much the whole time that I've been at sea. Never once did she imply or reference her feelings about the trip. She is the most incredible person and has, and continues to give me encouragement, and strength, where ever and whenever I may need it.
Again, as Simon did, I would like to address my fellow Freedom Fighters.
CJ, Chris, skipper, big brother: What an opportunity you and Ian have given me. I think I’ve been talking about sailing the Atlantic for decades. Had you asked me a couple of years ago whether I thought I was going to be able to fulfil my dream, I think I would have probably said no. Well, God willing, in 2 or 3 days I will be able to proudly and gratefully say, ‘I sailed an ocean‘. Without any doubt, it is down to you and Ian, so generously inviting me along ,when I’m sure there were plenty of other people eager to fill my bunk. I will remember these days with enormous gratitude and thank you both from the bottom of my heart.
Ian, Whit, My Man: What can I say other than the above. Thank you so very much for my place on board. The fantastic cuisine, truly astonishing what you have produced in the galley. And tremendous bants. Although you’ve a lot to learn in the latter department!
Simon: A top cabin mate. Great company and a superb ship mate. Always first to jump up, and get on with something. Even if you are, after 17 days at sea, still guarding your Granola like it was the Crown Jewels.
And lastly but definitely not least. Stuart: What a team player you are buddy. I’ve known you over 40 years and you’ve never changed. A nicer gentleman you couldn’t wish to meet. Solid, reliable, diamond geezer. I’ve really enjoyed our hand overs, with the brews and the ‘snacks’. I can mention them now Stu with only a few days left. Truth is mate, I reckon all the fighters are at the pantry during night watches. Thanks for being here Stu. I meant it when I said you were a huge part of my decision to, join the boat.
And so, with probably no more than 72 hrs left before I step on terra ferma; St Lucia, I bid you all farewell. Thank you to everyone who responded to the blogs with words of encouragement and prayers. I hope you all have a love filled magical Christmas and a fabulous 2024. Who knows what that will bring. And remember, as has been mentioned in previous blogs. It’s later than you think.
To all Freedom fighters, Past, Present and Future, it has been my honour and privilege to sail among you.
God bless to all
Lots of love
The current fighters xx
Sent from my iPad