After 10,700nm Northabout is approaching Bristol.  The last four weeks have for me been an unique experience: majestic scenery; whales, seals and dolphins; the northern lights; a challenging ten day transit across the North Atlantic, capped by a terrific welcome and hospitality in Ireland.  The five members of the Atlantic Team have been worked hard but have gelled well – for which many thanks to them all.  Specifically:

– Mike Stewart (Skipper/Masterchief and NZ’s answer to Sir Les Patterson, Oz Cultural Attache). Mike has extensive experience of sailing right across the world.  He was never happier than when grovelling on all fours sorting out the fuel supply or the occasional hiccup with the engine, generator or the Refleks heater.   A consummate professional he is in his element when the conditions get tough (as opposed to us lesser mortals): we could not have wished for a better leader.

– Andrew Coulthurst (mate).  Andrew also has plenty of miles under his belt having sailed extensively across the Pacific and South Atlantic.  His calm and measured manner helped to instil confidence.  At times he was rather bemused by the military vernacular provided by Mike and me – but he is now fully conversant with chuff charts, gash and RVs. Best of luck to him in the Caribbean where he will shortly be skippering a charter boat for the season.  I hope that the a/c is more reliable than our heater!

– Rob Hudson (senior unpaid hand).  Rob is instantly recognisable as a sea-dog.  Having never met previously, he was easily recognisable at the departure gate at Gatwick. He has raced for years around the cans in the Bristol Channel and has also participated in the ARC from the Canaries to St Lucia.  Nothing ever dims his enthusiasm – even in the middle of the night when it is blowing a hooley and the waves are pitching the boat at acute angles. At such times all he can say is: ‘Isn’t this great’.  The kangaroo court saga will come to a conclusion in Portishead when he will no doubt be invited to buy a round and sing to all and sundry a suitable sea-shanty.  We will wait in eager anticipation!

– Ben Edwards (intrepid teenager).  Ben might have missed the first half of the autumn term at school, but what an education!  Being the only member of the expedition to complete the whole circuit from Bristol back to Bristol, he has so much to be proud of.  It has taken four months. Mature beyond his 14 years, he will no doubt go on to greater things.  After all, in another guise he has been to the North Pole, and I suspect the South Pole will be in his sights in due course.

Finally, many thanks to all the support team, and to David HA for inviting me earlier this year to join the Delivery Leg.  We now look forward to handing the boat back alongside SS Great Britain ship-shape and, as they say, in Bristol-fashion.

If it is not inappropriate, it only remains for me to say: ‘fair winds, fair women – and may they both be gentle’.

David Wynne Davies, Supplementary Crew!

Ships’s Captain edit…

David Wynne-Davies.   As the Senior Officer on board, his overwatch of proceedings, and never ending moral support has been both amusing and highly valued. Ever ready to provide hot soup (Heinz Tomato with Basil, as first choice, Packet Minestrone the solid backup), David was always ready to lend hand, was highly sporting when required to stand watch for any exhausted crew, and in weather that would make a Merchantman blanch, go forward, spin a winch or coil a handy line in twiddly fashion. At any time, night or day,  he was able to entertain us all with amusing anecdotes and fascinating military history vignettes. Frank Muir goes sailing!  He has been a highly valued crew member, a solid watch leader when under pressure, and our ‘style guru’ when going ashore, making sure as always, as a British and Commonwealth crew we are well behaved and impeccably presented. We finally found your precious scarlet knitted hat David (Post Office Red of course) , it was in your bunk all the time!  

We salute you Colonel, from all crew THANKS!.