As I write this blog, I am less than a day out of Cape Town after a total of 50 days at sea. It’s bright and sunny, and I have favorable winds. Once I draw near, I shall be greeted with an escort boat, a crew will jump aboard with fenders and dock lines, for these I do not carry given the nature of the voyage, and we shall dock and be greeted by Customs and Immigration…and most importantly, my wife Catherine. There will be papers to sign, champagne to drink (a tradition on all my voyages), then it’s briefly to work. Steve Tofield from Lyman Morse, their customer relations representative and general all-rounder, will meet with me for a quick rundown on the condition of the vessel. Repair crew, from sail makers, spar people, water making, etc., will descend on the boat.
Then I shall go to a lovely hotel for a hot shower, bath, and another hot shower, before going out to dinner where someone else cooks and I get to eat with a white table cloth and proper cutlery - and of course a fine wine - but I had some of that aboard. How good being on shore will be.
I think the hardest moment for me was the cutting of the three seals that had closed off the fuel tanks and the engine. The moment I cut these, the "green" challenge was over, and a few minutes later, when I started the engine, so was the solo non-stop and non-assisted circumnavigation. But, I know it was the right and only decision, a decision endorsed by all who knew what was happening. It was not at all due to my chest injury, which still bothers me, but to the safety of the boat, and its ability to handle gales and storms, which cannot be avoided and always occur on the route I was having to take.
As soon as essential repairs and replacements are made, a delivery crew will take the boat to Antigua in the Caribbean, and in May, once the weather improves, it will be taken to Lyman Morse yards in Maine, and the serious work will begin. Prior to then, I will have conversed and met with everyone from design and build, to sail and spar makers, riggers and plumbers. The result is that Kiwi Spirit is going to be upgraded from the lessons learned and experienced gained. I know she will appreciate the loving care - she deserves it. Boats are "she's" because in a family, it’s the female that provides the love and nurturing of the family. She took care of me by getting me safely to port, and now it’s my turn to show appreciation.