As everyone knows, I’m back. Jeroboam crossed the finish line at 1816 UTC on Wednesday to a fantastic greeting of friends and family. This finish time assures me of an elapsed and corrected time class victory. While it has not yet been made official, my back of the envelope calculations indicate an extremely good showing among the fleet on corrected time. Jeroboam performed brilliantly without any major issues or equipment failures.
The last 48 hours were some of the most grueling as I made a very sharp cut across the corner of Nantucket Shoals. These shallow waters extend about 30 miles south and east of Nantucket and have claimed many ships and lives over the years. The charts simply cordon off the entire region, labeling it “Area To Be Avoided.” There are no channels or channel markers or aids to navigation or lighthouses. The depths indicated on the charts are virtually meaningless as the chart datum is from 1940 and with each winter storm, the sandbars and shoals move around, sometimes considerably. At one point, the chart indicated I should be in 60 feet of water with plenty of room all around the boat but my depth sounder read 10. It was pitch black with thick fog. I was flying the spinnaker trying to work my way against 1.5 knots of head current. Then the wind died and I was struggling to keep the boat off the sand. I got the anchor on deck and was preparing to hurl it over when the NE breeze filled in and quickly built to 15 knots. By the time dawn hit, I was out of the shoals and sighted land, Nantucket, to the north. It was the end of my most frightening sailing episode on this race.
The rest of the way into Newport was some brilliant summer sailing weather. I put on my shorts and a tee shirt, rooted around for my sunglasses which hadn’t been used all race, and enjoyed a fantastic close reach, then beat into Narragansett Bay.
Upon finishing, my good buddy’s Chris, Jay and Damean jumped on board from several of the chase and media boats to take over the helm while I put my feet up to enjoy the moment. It’s been great to spend some time with the other competitors and new friends in the more relaxed Newport environment as pre-race Plymouth was fairly tense with prep work.
A few people have asked me if the race was easy compared to the delivery. I think they each had their challenges. The intensity of the competition during the race took as much out of me as the rough weather and equipment failures of the delivery. The experience smashed any preconception I had of my own mental, physical and emotional limits. All were pushed to incredible heights, providing a whole new perspective of what I’m capable of.
I want to thank the race committee for putting on a fantastic race. David Southwood has done a great job leading the charge and Norm Bailey has been extremely helpful in so many ways as have their wives and Alex Burgis, a volunteer student from Plymouth who has labored intensely on the website and social media venues. Thank you also to fellow competitors Richard Lett, Jac Sandberg and Nico Budel for setting the pace in front of me and pushing me to keep up with them. These guys never let up once and it took everything I had to try to keep pace.
Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to my short support team and family for helping out in so many ways. Gina and Tom lead the charge on a day to day basis, relaying my reports and securing spare parts for me during the delivery to Europe and to Nate & Anya for meeting me in Plymouth. Duncan Sweet and his team in Horta helped tremendously in getting the boat back together and on track to cross the starting line. Huge thanks to Joe Cooper for putting together the Sail for Kids program with the Storm Trysail Foundation. We had lots of financial supporters for this program and I’m very appreciative to everyone who helped us. I would like to single out Walter and Gina Beinecke and Fred Morris of Lodge of St Andrews for their generosity –having people like this believe in me is incredibly motivating and a real honor. And finally to my Mom, Dad, brother Jeff and his wife Jody for helping in so many ways.
I may have been out there on my own but this really has been a team effort. Thank you.