APPROPRIATELY this Day, the Feast of the Resurrection, Easter Sunday April 1st is the very last log of SDN Kilcullen Team Ireland. From the lowest of lows on losing my mast half way around; I feel I have come back from the dead and Le Souffle Du Nord have been great partners in our comeback.
Never Again. That said its been an extraordinary adventure - now coming to an end as I cross the line early today in darkness. Rather than go ashore ; we head straight for the Aran Islands off Galway. It will only be another 3 days. I simply cannot handle the welcome party, the sudden attention and I am happy on the boat and do not need the fuss on this date.
It is not just 66 days alone at sea since New Zealand but since January 1st 2015 when we decided to ' Go for It". And for this it is an honour and I thank all who have supported us and our charity, the Atlantic Youth Trust.
Preparations have gobbled- up all the ranges of personal emotion, physical challenge, personal resource, fear and jubilation in between. There is no logic to the logic. And right to the finish line for the final week, rounding the Azores and the North West corner of Spain, the storm crossing the Bay of Biscay, kept me on edge.
With the tribulations of Rounding Cape Horn and a tough upwind slog off the coast of Brazil to the Equator, it was not unreasonable to expect favourable conditions for the final leg to finish. Not So. Entering the Bay of Biscay we were by a massive storm.
Lying in my navigation chair, I was alarmed to see the wind move north of 40 knots in a vicious squall. It was time to shorten sail and furl the jib. I put my foot on the floor, destined for my seaboots and instead stood in water. I swore. Whatever else, keeping socks dry and warm was mission critical.
" Oops, must have left the hatch open" I thought. But no, instead there was tons of water sloshing around the bilges. I was scared. So close and yet so far. Were we in danger of sinking? How fast was it filling ? Were we sinking? Should I run for the coast? My mind raced
Then the boat heeled more. I struggled to get my boots, even if wet, and oilskins on. Whatever the problem, in these cold conditions, to stay protected from the elements is important.
No sooner than I had surfaced on deck there was a crash gybe. The wind and enormous waves were too much for the self-steering in a turbulent ocean, as the seas shorten on the ocean shelf. The boat lay on its side, main stuck against the runner with the keel angled the wrong way. And the wind howled.
After some struggle I eventually got the boat back under control and on the other gybe. This lifted the starboard side clear of the water where the suspected leak was. Quickly I explored the option to make q dart for the Spanish coast.
There is no more efficient way to bail than a frightened man with a bucket. 20 minutes later the bulk of the water was out and the leak - being on the other tack - had stopped for the moment. I found it was the valve for filling the waterballast tanks had opened.
And so this problem was solves - for the moment. It was just one of many dramas on this 60 foot ocean racing machine Every day is on the edge and, you never know what problems seeking solutions will confront you next.
The personal odyssey and I am ready to sign a document that will allow family and friends to lock me up and throw away the key, should I try at my age a repeat performance.
And whether its getting up and walking a 100 metres or climbing Mount Everest, we each have our own challenges but it's the essence of life to live it, set goals, have fun, do our bit and hopefully make the world a better place since we'll all be a long time dead and need each other.
That said, to finish, I take inspiration the words of Samule Beckett and once again thank all who helped your humble Skipper in his " Mission Impossible"
" It may be that my best years are gone
But I would not want them back
Not with the fire that's in me now"
NB: Please support the ATLANTIC Youth Trust whose mission is to connect youth with the ocean and adventure. See www.teamireland.ie/donate. to edit.