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Raritan - Raritan – 12/11/18 – Day 18 – Land Ho!

Well, we made it. Pete was right. After 17 days, 23 hours and 10 minutes, we crossed the finish line at St. Lucia.

Early on the first day of our voyage, Pete announced that his statistical analysis of the situation had determined that we had a 100% chance of making it to St. Lucia alive. Each day we’d ask him for an update, particularly after harrowing events such as an unplanned jibe with snapped preventer or a shredded Code 0. Pete’s unapologetic answer each time was 100%.

I’ll have to admit that, although I agreed in each case with Pete’s analysis, the trip has been harder than I’d imagined. Night watches in particular were quite taxing in a boat which is not designed to go directly downwind. An unplanned jibe can be devastating to both boat and crew, so unrelenting vigilance is required. If the sea state is up or clouds cover the stars, it can be exhausting.

The voyage was also punishing for the poor boat. Over the course of the last two and half weeks, we shredded a Code 0, snapped a preventer, frayed through the cover on the spinnaker halyard four times, frayed through two reef lines, broke a snatch block and ripped the topping lift attachments off the boom.

That’s the bad stuff. The good stuff is too voluminous to catalog here, and it will take me a lifetime to describe to friends and family. The most important of the good part is the fact that it has been done with my oldest and dearest friends, plus an able captain who’s become a new good friend to us all.

And I can’t say enough about this crew. It’s about as selfless a bunch of people as one could ask for. It’s hard to live in a small space for an extended period. Everyone did their part and more, every time. Even the small things count. Nobody ever left a dirty coffee cup in the sink. Nobody skimped on doing the dishes. Everyone did their part to keep things tidy. The bigger things were even more egalitarian. Each lent a hand when the task required more than just the crew watch, even if that meant missing out on sleep. Each stepped up to his night watch with at least resolve if not enthusiasm. Even more impressive, I don’t remember a single disagreement in 17 days at sea. That is extraordinary. I am so thankful to Tom, Doug, Rob, Pete and captain Ian. What a crew. I would go anywhere with this bunch.

Two people deserve special mention. As mentioned numerous times on this blog, Rob was a masterful chef. We ate like kings. His accomplishments were all the more impressive since at various times the boat was heeling and pitching like a bucking bronco. And yet we never missed a wholesome and tasty dinner. I don’t know how we’ll ever repay him. Thank you again Rob.

Our captain Ian Thompson was similarly tireless. He was constantly on the move, fixing, monitoring and adjusting. His efforts to monitor our power and water usage allowed the rest of us to relax and not have to worry about resources. We always had enough of both. He whipped lines, fixed halyards, repaired broken hinges, diagnosed electrical gremlins and scaled the forestay in big winds to repair a sheet. All of this while still maintaining his regular watch. He is a true professional, and we were lucky to have him on our crossing. Ian, I hope our paths cross again.

Today Raritan is safe in the marina and everyone has left for home, where Christmas awaits. I am feeling a little depressed that it’s all over. It was an extraordinary couple of weeks, memories of which I will take to my grave.


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