Most of you thought this would never come and many times I have thought so also. It has been hard for me to write the final blog of this Journey as it really means the incredible 15-16 Clipper Round the World race is over and Clipper Telemed is no longer my home and our fabulous crew is no longer with me every day. However, it is a time that will live on for me in many different moments. Having the opportunity to do 5 presentations with more to come about my Journey has awakened many moments and memories back into my heart. Great friendships, incredible people, amazing sights and insights into different countries and cultures.
Even today while rehearsing for a Christmas program for church tomorrow, as I heard the choir sing so beautifully I had thoughts of that moment on Leg 1 when our watch was awoken to the Karaoke singing of Sweet Caroline at 2am. Those sounds did not compare to what it was like listening to angels sing this morning.
And then there were the phrases so nicely constructed that they sounded like the “waves come in and the waves go out”. And for a moment I was in the middle of the ocean (definitely not the Pacific but probably the Atlantic during most of Leg 1) feeling the boat gently rock back and forth.
I looked at my Journal to see what was happening last year at this time. Thought I would share a few of those thoughts with you:
12/11/15 2 -6am watch a bit wild with wind, reef 3, changing Yankee 2 to 3 and craziness in general. Interesting I thought about being scared and whether I have been at anytime. The boat is very stable though we have been experiencing parts breaking. I actually feel safe and sound on it. That is unless I am trying to sleep and we are at a 45+ angle. Then it is just trying to get settled so as not to fly out of the bunk.
Rainbows on the water, Eelco’s leg, the head, no Green Monster this race!!!, waves and spray, Mother watch near disaster with mash and beans and then chicken and rice dinner. An amazing sunrise, storms in and out all day but always God shining light through the clouds somewhere. Stained glass window effect. Taking the kite down in next to no wind before a storm we could not see and then BAMM, less than 10 minutes later hit by 60 knot winds.
12/12/15- amazing waves becoming hills to climb and watch the valleys form below. Color of the foam changing, spray blowing into mist as wind hits.
I look back at those thoughts and wonder if I was really there or if it was just an amazing dream.
OK back to finishing my Journey. You’ve heard of my exciting finish via the UK Coast Guard. For you fact checkers, the GPS location was 51 57.904N, 01 47.742E. After trip to hospital in Colchester, then a train ride to London and then to St. Kat’s where Emilie Lynch and Renee Ruais (friends from Austin Yacht Club) met me. My ride on the media boat to the Thames Barrier to meetup with my crew on Clipper Telemed. The interesting fact on the ride to the boat as we passed by the other boats the crews came to the side and started clapping as we passed. I figured they were all trying to get filmed. But no, as I was stopped at St. Kat’s a few asked if I heard them clapping as we went by and I said yes. I was then told that they were clapping for me being able to return to the boat and finish with everyone. I was also stopped numerous times by other boat crew members and asked how I was doing and they were so glad that I was alright. Pretty amazing group of people and friends from all the boats forever. Update on shoulder is that I am currently doing PT and progressing in a positive manner.After getting on the boat and as we came down by the spectator boats I heard someone calling my name and was totally surprised to see Sean-Michael Hazuda waving to me. From his emails I thought that he was in Hawaii celebrating his birthday. The parade into London was as wonderful as our race start in August 2015. We did our parade and once again went under the tower bridge. All the boats applauded each other as we passed. Great comradery continued as we did the parade and docked the boats. Once all the boats were docked the final parade of crews to the podium area began.
Then it was parting on the boat.
After that it was time to clear out our belongings and begin our journeys home.
From top to bottom, (NOTE this might change as it already has 3 times on me as I have proof read and redid the text, so use your imagination and put the text and pictures in the correct order). 1. the galley at the end of the day….note my treacherous boots (yellow souls and blue tops) waiting for me to grab them after completing the Circumnavigation though they were not worn during legs 5 to 8 after my fun with Trench/Immersion foot. I left them in London so they would feel at home. 2. My farewell to the sail locker where I spent many happy hours. 3. Everyone’s gear waiting for their trip off the boat and home.So do I miss it. Yes, I miss being able to see forever without anything blocking the view. I miss being outside and dealing with Mother Nature daily. I miss the crazy crew that I lived with for a year. I miss figuring out how to stay in my bunk when we are heeled way over and I am sliding out. I miss wondering what the next meal will be. I miss all the candy, chocolate, cookies, apples and oranges that we devoured after a good workout with the sails. I miss the amazingbeauty of sunrises, sunsets, sea life, clouds (but I am now a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society so I get to see and learn about clouds every day). I even miss doing the heads, the bilges, figuring ways to make the ingredients we would find in our day bag a scrumptious meal. The nonstop chatter, the learning new ways to solve repair issues and others. I also miss getting that foul weather gear on and off sometimes in a crowded hallway. In fact I missed the crew so much I found a way to return to the UK this past October. Yep, I went to see the National Brass Band Championships in London at the Royal Albert Hall. Sorry I did not get a picture of any of the Brass Bands. The judging was very different from our UIL competition. The Bands were chosen from 4 different areas in the UK and then to Nationals kind of like our Region to Area to State competition. The big difference is that they all play the same piece. Sounds weird but it was interesting to hear the different interpretations. All groups had the exact same instrumentation and each section had a featured soloist. Judges were totally surrounded by a curtain. Very interesting with the defending champion Cory winning. This was their 4th victory in a row. They were very good and definitely the winners. Had my two ex Judson band students, Anais and Christina, two of my favorite Clipper officials, Julia and Sarah and then some great friends from crew, Jen, Elaine, Annie, and Jill there to enjoy with us. Good friend Jamieson also managed to make it there for a bit before going to work.
The next day about a third of our crew met at Dickens Pub for lunch and hanging out. Great group and next get together is in January.
Well, that is about it for now. I hope to provide some more bits of info in the form of thoughts about my experience but do not promise anything at this moment.
I do want to say a GIANT TEXAS THANK YOU TO DOUG KERN for getting me going and for inserting some great information and being able to get through my InReach sat device to provide some up to the moment happenings for you. He is a great friend and without his guidance there would never have been a blog.
If you have made it this far, then you deserve to know that next Saturday, December 17th from 2 to 4pm at the Alamo Heights High School Band Hall, 6900 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209 I will be doing presentation #6. If you have been following this Journey you might want to come.Take care, and have a safe and Happy Holidays!