LATEST We're home!

25th September 2017
We’re home – at last, some nine years and over 50,000 miles later. Of course, there have been a few more miles since we last wrote.

The North Atlantic crossing is never reckoned to be an easy one, which is why, when we saw a half way respectable weather window – Azores High established and stable, we set sail from Bermuda missing the final weekend of the America’s Cup. Given the comprehensive win by Emirates Team New Zealand we wish we could have been there, but you can’t have everything. A good forecast for the foreseeable future when you are starting a potential three-week passage trumps watching the America’s Cup (does mean we now have an excuse to return to NZ in 2021).
So off we went, following the traditional routing advice – sail around the top of the Azores High and sort of sneak up on Europe from the north west. The reason for this being that close to the coast of Spain you tend to get northerly winds which means you really don’t want to be finishing the passage too far south as you would be bashing into the prevailing winds. As you know by now we don’t sail into the wind if we can help it, a sad disappointment to Sea Rover which sails well to windward!


The Azores High is a fickle thing and tends to move around year on year and week on week. This summer was no different and it was much further north than we had hoped so our sailing over the top found us going a long way north. Our paper chart showed us crossing the southernmost recorded limit of ice in the summer! We just had to cross our fingers, hope climate change meant any ice would have melted and keep a good look out (easier said than done when looking for ice). Mike marked the limits of the ice on our electronic chart and for two days we sailed in what Mike referred to as the ‘ice box’ and were so close to the coast of Newfoundland that we were overflown by the Canadian air force on a training flight.


Overall we had a pretty good passage. I was heard to refer to it as being benign. A sentiment Mike queried as our log book does record periods of F6 – F7 in amongst all the kindly F3 – F5. But it did feel like a good passage and 18 days later we had Vigo and dolphins on the bow. We were back in Europe.


However, this meant paying the VAT, which had been refunded when we left the UK nine years ago. The reason we were in Spain is they assess the VAT due on a straightforward calculation of 10% depreciation per year rather than an independent valuation, which would have cost us a lot more as Sea Rover isn’t looking her age. You would have thought asking to give the Spanish government a shed load of money would have been greeted with whoops of glee, but the process took much longer than we had anticipated (not helped by the recommended agent we were using going on holiday half way through the process without telling us!). Of course, being ‘stuck’ in Spain is no great hardship and we made full use of our time there to explore Vigo and Baiona, enjoy traditional festivals, drink copious amounts of excellent wine and eat more tapas than you can shake a stick at. Did think there was a real danger we would begin to look like pimentos di padron.


We did note that here the expression ‘a dog’s life’ seemed to far less harsh than we would expect, as though something got lost in translation!


Three weeks later we eventually had the all important VAT certificate in our hands which will make the process of selling the boat a little easier. Though parting with her will be such a graunch, we have put Sea Rover up for sale “original owners, one shakedown circumnavigation” should you know anyone who might be interested. http://searover.co.uk/sea-rover

The next step was going to be crossing Biscay, another stretch of water with a bit of a reputation. We took the first good weather window that presented itself and headed north. The conditions held and we had a good and uneventful crossing. We had planned to try and see cruising friends along the north Brittany coast, but as we approached Ushant/Ouessant the weather for sailing to the UK was tempting and the pull of home, family and friends just too great so we continued on towards Dartmouth.


In the early hours of August 6th, we anchored off Hallsands by Start Point in Devon. Although it was 2:00 in the morning we were both far too buoyed up to go to bed, so we sat on deck under a full moon and celebrated being home with a glass of wine (no surprise there), nine years and a few days after we left Dartmouth and UK waters at the start of our circumnavigation. You may wonder what took us so long. It was a very emotional moment to sit on deck looking at the land so close to us and knowing it was England, we were home.

The next month was something of a whirlwind catching up with family and friends, but we did manage to fit in a wine tasting – well what else would you expect from us? The vineyard in question was Sharpham, a bit of a way up the river Dart, on a bend where the impact of Devon’s tourism seemed all too apparent.


The beautiful vineyard makes a very good (but not cheap) wine, including the excellent Bacchus from the grape of the same name and some excellent cheeses.


We carried their wines and cheese and the wind much of the way along the south coast as we made our way back into the Solent and the Beaulieu River.


The welcome in Gosport wasn’t quite what we expected…the WWII Harbour Defence Motor Launch HMS Medusa training her gun on us moments after we’d moored, however the crew proved more than friendly – look out for her and them in the film Dunkirk patrolling up and down behind Kenneth Brannagh. And read the story of this decommissioned wooden warship at http://www.hmsmedusa.org.uk


We now have our west London home back, although at present we are still living on the boat much of the time as we are taking the opportunity of getting some rewiring and redecorating done whilst the place is empty. So, life still feels a little unreal and guess it won’t properly sink in that we are home for good until we do finally move back home later in the autumn.
The last leg of our journey started after a night at anchor off Margate as we made our way up the River Thames towards Tower Bridge. It so easy to forget what a busy artery the river remains and we enjoyed sailing past its eclectic architecture which mixes rich industrial heritage, enviable apartments and eyesores.


For us the circumnavigation circle finally closed with the lock gates of St Katharine’s on September 22nd many moons and much water under the keel since we departed from there on June 27th 2008.


As one friend put it we have spent over 14% of our lives aboard Sea Rover and what a time that has been, we both have heads and hearts stuffed full of memories.

Enjoy a few glimpses from our seven years in the South Pacific

Comments

Photo comment By Steve and Cheryl Taylor: Were just thinking of you two. We have just sailed down west australian coast to perth on Emotion2 took 2 months, saw heaps of whales. Great to see that you might come back to NZ for AC. Would be good to see your smiling faces once again. xxx
Photo comment By Tania Sweet: What an achievement. So glad to hear that you are planning to return to NZ in 2021.
Photo comment By Kerry and Ethan Blackburn: Glad to hear you are home safely and so weird to see you in Sea Rover with a London backdrop. But probably nowhere near as strange as it must feel for you. How long until itchy feet we wonder! And good luck with selling her - if only we had a spare few hundred; Ethan did rather suit that position at the helm :) Love to you both
Photo comment By Al: Glad that you're home safely... What's your next adventure?! xxx

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