A great leap into a life af loat

Yachting Monthly - - COLUMN - PETE GOSS

Sat in our woods with Corn­wall at its best, the sun lights up the steam of my morn­ing cof­fee and eases the night along its way. The bird­song, some­thing we’ve missed, is a riot of love, alarm and hunger amid the re­lent­less growth of spring. This ver­dant world is the per­fect place to re­flect on the last seven months of blue that the good ship Pearl has forged, all 7,600 miles of it dou­ble-handed.

To get here, we have taken the long way around the world on that mod­ern ves­sel known as a jumbo jet. Andy, my youngest brother, was mar­ried in Syd­ney and it was poignant, as it has taken 50 years for the plan­ets to align and re­veal the love of his life. It’s amaz­ing that the first of the plan­ets lined up in 1854 when seven Cor­nish­men sailed a 37ft fish­ing lug­ger to Aus­tralia. They were the in­spi­ra­tion for our recre­ation of that ex­tra­or­di­nary voy­age. Andy re­mained down un­der, fell in love and the rest is his­tory.

It isn’t long since Tracey, when asked if she sailed, would laugh and say that ‘noth­ing goes to wind­ward like a 747’. Yet here was Tracey at 36,000ft, look­ing at the Pa­cific with the long­ing of a free spirit, a spirit that has found its wings at sea. Seven months ago, on a wet and windy De­cem­ber morn­ing, we took a leap of faith and set sail on a dream to ex­plore the world’s oceans. Tracey’s was the greater leap for up to that point, she had only done two night sails.

When asked about the trip, it’s hard to know where to start. ‘Bril­liant’ just doesn’t do it jus­tice. One of the strange things to get used to is that it’s not over

– this is our life now. We’re in Corn­wall, but only to catch up with friends and fam­ily. This is a break from sail­ing and it’s nice to have the dis­tance to re­flect on what has been.

We have had so much fun while myr­iad ex­pe­ri­ences have tem­pered us into a tight, self-re­liant team. I re­mem­ber kneel­ing on the fore­deck in the dark­est of nights with the spin­naker up, wild surges tum­bling phos­pho­res­cent wa­ter about my knees and the wind ris­ing at an alarm­ing rate while the log reg­is­tered 17 knots. I had to haul the snuffer down but the power was too great. I shouted, ‘Ease the red one!’ into the mael­strom… The re­ply, ‘They’re all the same bloody colour in the dark’ had us in fits of gig­gles. ‘Well turn the bloody lights on.’ ‘Where’s the bloody switch?’ But we got the job done and our sides ached in the morn­ing, mostly from laugh­ing.

Tracey has had a new lan­guage to learn. ‘Ease the head­sail.’ ‘Which is that one?’ ‘The one at the front.’ ‘I thought you said that was the fore­sail.’ ‘It is.’ ‘Well make your mind up.’ And I did. Trou­ble is, next time I’m on the fore­deck, I can’t re­mem­ber which one I chose so the fore­sail-head­sail gets eased. A few months later and Tracey is throw­ing ‘fore­sail’ and ‘head­sail’ about as if she was born on a boat.

All it takes is a bit of time, pa­tience and ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s un­fair to ask what the best bit was but if pushed, we have a range of favourite mo­ments. Dawn in the mid­dle of the At­lantic. A trop­i­cal sunset with sun­down­ers and tunes in the cock­pit. Be­ing adopted by a minke whale. A rocket launch as we round Cape Canaveral where you could feel as much as hear the tear­ing power. The ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple we have met. The Ba­hamas, where the wa­ter is so clear that it’s as if the boat is lev­i­tat­ing. The kids join­ing us for a hol­i­day of a life­time. Our daugh­ter draw­ing Tracey aside to say that she now un­der­stands what we are do­ing and why: ‘Proud of you, Mum.’

We don’t have to wake up from this dream and we can’t wait to get back to Ch­e­sa­peake and our con­tin­u­ing ad­ven­ture.

The red rope? They’re all the bloody same in the dark!

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