Joy of Joys

Posted by Tni Newhoff on Friday, June 29th, 2007 at 1:15 pm
Position: 37.109339 by -8.67486 map

We made it! We are now officially on the European Continent…terra firma and it feels so good! Our last leg took exactly six days. It was a tough one (surprise, surprise). In part b/c we were just so close that we could taste it and in part b/c our rotten luck continued. We started feeling like we were just not meant to get a break. What should have been a nice downwind sail turned out instead to be very wet, cold, and askew. We were close hauled for about 4 days (to be fair, we had two days of beautiful sailing). Imagine if every task in your daily life had to be done at a 45 degree angle, an unstable angle that is forever changing and throwing you. Simple things like using the bathroom, walking, filling your water bottle, sleeping all take an impossible amount of effort. Every muscle in your body is tensed…all the time. It ruins your equilibrium and you exist in a state of low grade agitation. We were eating less and less and by the 5th day had abandoned the task altogether. Too much work…the eating, the fixing, the cleaning and our stomachs weren’t remotely appreciative anyway. A day on the bay spent heeled over with waves splashing the rails is exhilerating. Four days mid Atlantic…not so much. All we could focus on was passing the time. And just to put a cherry on top of our very bitter sundae, the last 36 hours introduced incredibly steep seas with waves breaking over every part of the boat. At times our entire starboard side was beneath water level from the top of the stantions down and others where you would see a cresting wave of a good 15 feet approaching your beam. As a result, we had to double up on our last night of watches and being only 3 now, meant that we were basically snatching 1 hour of sleep for every two hours of watch. We were experiencing 25 knot winds gusting to 30-35. The grib files told us that conditions would moderate by midnight. This of course was not the case. FINALLY by about 6AM…at the same time that John first spotted land, things started to ease up. We’d been living in our perpetually wet foul weather gear which we were able to strip off by and by 8AM even the cockpit was dry. By the time that we were two hours outside of Lagos, the seas were glassy, the air was warm and John (bless him) was making scones. The coastline was stunning, jagged edged limestone cliffs with layers of color. We were again greeted by dolphins and the difficultly of the passage began to melt away as our intense joy began to supersede it. We celebrated with warm scones and cold passionfruit mimosas.

And so we are here. And this is the best part of all…we did it! We were a great team and we made it and we will always have this. The strangest part of it all is, at no time was I ever afraid. There are two things that never let us down – our boat and our captain – and my faith in both never wavered. In the big picture even with all of our challenges, we were still very blessed indeed. And now…it is over and we get to resume our lives as coastal cruisers. Unlike the many marathons I have run where at about mile 23 I am swearing them off, vowing never to do them again only to find myself crossing the finish line, endorphins pumping…elated, planning out my next one. For this, the crossing of an ocean, once is enough. I will be eternally grateful for this very unique perspective that I got to have on the world, the vastness of the ocean and the small place that I occupy. It is an emotional feeling that is hard to express. What I do know is that once is enough and I don’t need to try to replicate it, I will carry this one time with me forever.


4 Responses to “Joy of Joys”

    Congratulations from that other western coastline! Bravo and well-done. You WILL always have this all your lives. I’m breaking open an Iberian wine tonight just in your honor (a Priorat Red from Spain – you HAVE to get to know this region while you’re there…great with meals).

    I’m so proud of you both. Wait till Monte gets home and hears!


    Much love, Ludy.

    Congrats guys!

    All that adversity will make for fond memories.

    I’m so excited that your dream trip is really happening.
    I loved looking at all the photos.
    You both look so happy. Miss seeing you around the hood in the marina. Now that you’re in Portugal, I’m really jealous as my father’s family came from the island of San Miguel in the Azores.
    You’ve got to put all your adventures in a book so the world can know of your wonderful story.
    Take good care of yourselves and do keep in touch.
    Lots of Love, Marcy
    P.S. I still miss both of you here at the opera. Oh how times have changed!!!

    Congratulations you guys! I’m so glad you’re safely across! Sorry to hear about Jeff falling overboard, but hopefully he can stay afloat until another boat finds him. Have fun exploring Europe!


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