Freedom - Blog 19 Freedom Thursday 7th December 2023
Editor: Ian Whit - Day 19 Freedom Fighters Alive & Kicking
Good morning from inside the cockpit where four of us are huddled escaping a torrential squall. Stu, bless him, is at the helm testing his wet weather gear. The start of his watch coincided with the tropical downpour. It’s a proper test for his Southern Ocean gear.
Today is my sign off for the blog , so I’m going back in time to where it all started for me. September 2019, CJ and Jules have kindly invited Gill and I to share a barge holiday with them for a long weekend, this happened to be the wettest weekend of the year but rain never gets in the way of progress (not sure if Stu currently agrees with this). Anyway, whist the girls are working their way through copious quantities of Sauvignon Blanc at the bow, the conversation on the tiller turns to other adventures. Those that know him won’t be surprised to hear that by October CJ is on the blower “Whit I’ve found a boat” and by November Freedom has been secured .
Three years later, here we are within sniffing distance of our goal.
In my first blog I alluded to how well everything was going but maybe I needed to reserve final judgement until our arrival, well as I think our faithful readers will know there is no need for reappraisal. The crossing has been a dream. More of this to follow.
One reason I find myself here is the friends and family that I’m fortunate to have. Gill, my long suffering wife has been my greatest supporter from the start. Never questioning my quest or the endless drain on the account for Project Freedom. When we were questioning which year to go, it was Gill who encouraged me to do it asap. DIN, Do It Now (an expression Paul McCartney inherited from his father) has to be the mantra. You will have heard us use the expression “It’s Later Than You Think“ and I think collectively we feel this . Maybe because we’re in the middle of an ocean, maybe because we’re middle aged. Who knows, but if it’s in there (whatever it is) press the button and DIN.
The excitement we have experienced courtesy of Freedom will last with me. On Tuesday afternoon the breeze was blowing at 20-25 knots and Freedom is alive . We have following seas and she shoots along, diving down the wave faces and then executing a little skip as the wave rolls underneath her and she moves confidently forward to the next swell. I’m sure these exhilarating feelings will remain with the crew, probably indefinitely. Nature being harnessed and used in the most wonderful fashion.
Nature is so apparent out here, I’m pleased that we volunteered to take water samples twice a day though out the crossing so that an organisation called Sealabs can monitor changes to the ocean that are taking place. This is the least we can do. We are using The Atlantic and it’s the least we can do is to help her. We are all custodians of the plant and it is our responsibility to leave her as we find her. On this note , the recycling is going well and we are pleased with our efforts; we have a green bin that any local authority would be proud of.
As has become customary in these final blogs , let me turn to team Freedom.
CJ, the driving force behind our foray into the Atlantic. Thank you for your energy and enthusiasm. You have shouldered the responsibility of skipping Freedom admirably. Finding a course that suited the inclement weather wasn’t easy and we have progressed well . We have all felt safe and confident with you “at the wheel “ and this has ensured our passage has both been successful and heaps of fun. You have done a sterling job that we all know wasn’t easy with minimal fuss and drama. Thank you for your considerate approach and congratulations on this achievement.
Stu , CJ s other wife, as has been recorded previously, does what it says on the can. He’s just a dependable dude. I’ve likened him to Radar on the epic TV series MASH (for old readers) about a hospital in Vietnam during the war. Whenever the Lieutenant on the show (Cj on the boat) is about to ask a question or issue a request, Radar (Stu) either answers the question simultaneously or completes the request. Great work Ice Man, we’d have struggled without you.
Simon, long lost Aussie Brother. Thank you for making the effort to leave your Aussie family during these difficult times for you and Shelly and joining us. We haven’t spent as much time together in adulthood prior to this trip and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you properly again. You’ve been courteous, hardworking, a great sous chef , great company during our watch changeovers and comfortable moral support when the breeze was up in the middle of the night and you stayed up on deck with me. Love you bro.
Finally Brother Nige. I can’t believe you were such a late entry. You were built to be at sea; all over the foredeck, up and down the rigging, fixing this and fixing that and supplying endless chit chat. I think you may have been alongside Horatio in a former life. You’ve been great company and it wouldn’t have been the same without you (a tad quieter maybe 🤔)
So I think that’s it from me.
I often say to the family how blessed I feel and this is another one of those moments. To have completed this crossing in this company has been Top Draw.
With love and Thanks
PS Ed: we have been asked if we can see other boats in our vicinity. The answer is no, but occasionally on the horizon. The Amazing thing is c.170 boats left Las Palmas at the same time, yet within 48hrs they all disappeared! As mentioned the Ocean is vast and only small differences in course lead to a wide separation in distance. We occasionally see a cargo ship crossing behind us, 2 or 3 during the trip. As we converge on St.Lucia we are starting to pick up via our electronics (think of it like radar) a couple of boats within 20 miles or so but we can’t see them! That is one of the reasons one crosses the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Rally Cruising), because all though we feel all alone in reality we know if there was an emergency or catastrophic event there is probably a boat within 50nm that could come to our aid if required (it’s a safety thing)- hope that answers the question.