Sitting in the outer harbor of Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Waiting for a light air Vineyard Cup to begin, July 2018.
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Maverick’s Atlantic Adventure Last Blog: Landfall in Cowes after 3,100 Miles from Newport
The sun was just rising as we closed in on the Needles, those chalky, wave-worn cliffs that mark the western entrance to the Solent, the Isle of Wight and Cowes, which marked the end of our 3,100-mile transatlantic passage aboard Maverick. For all of us onboard, the Needles rising from the sea after a long passage is something we had dreamed of. Now it was real and our transatlantic adventure was coming to a close.
We had made first landfall two days earlier when we had a glimpse of England in the form of Bishop’s Rock lighthouse that marks the western extremity of the Scilly Isles and thus the western-most land in England. The white-painted light rose from the sea against a gray sky so it was hard to see at first. But there it was and then reality sank in. We’d done it. Well, almost.
We had been motoring in very calm conditions for much of the last three days, with patches of breeze and good sailing interspersed. But, we knew we were getting low on fuel. We had already added diesel to the tanks from the nine jerry jugs we carried but now we were getting down to the last fuel tank and doing the fuel-burn calculations every few hours.
Prudence dictated that we stop somewhere for fuel and Falmouth, on the south coast of Cornwall, was the logical choice. That night, we steered a course toward land and followed the rural and lovely coastline into the well protected harbor at Falmouth. It was 0130 when we moored to a mooring ball and after a celebratory whiskey—or was it rum, or both?—we slept for a few hours. In the morning, we topped up the tanks and found that we had had a slim, but well calculated margin of error over our last hours of motoring.
Now, with full tanks and a following westerly breeze—just about our first of the passage—we headed along the southern English coast for Cowes. The day was spent sorting out the spinnaker, which had tangled on it’s top-down furler, and completing Maverick’s North Atlantic One-Handed Bowline Championships. Young Drew proved to be too good for the rest of us and finished with a best time of 5.04 seconds in the elimination round and a flat-out, mano-a-mano drubbing of yours truly in the final.
Our final night at sea was a new moon and also completely cloud-free for the first time in many days. The stars and planets popped from the blackness so brightly they made reflected light trails on the water and illuminated the boat like a moon. The summer shooting stars were just beginning so we saw a few blaze across the sky. And then, at last, dawn came with bright yellows and pinks and the gradual emergence of the blue sky overhead. At 0530 Steve called down to the off watch that “The Needles are ahead. We have Landfall!”
We all gathered in the cockpit, took photos, drank coffee, joked and reminisced about the passage. The five of us had formed a tight crew; we had sailed well and safely; we had a very short list of repairs to undertake; and, as readers of this blog will know, we ate very well indeed.
For all the crew–Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and myself—many thanks to Nancy Jamison and Steve McInnis for preparing Maverick so completely and thoroughly for the passage and to Steve for skippering us expertly, safely and quickly across the wide North Atlantic. Fair winds, Maverick.
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