As I said in an earlier blog, iff we make it into Hobart this time, we will complete our second circumnavigation in the Derwent, also, I think, a first but this one via the North West Passage. Hobart again is really where it can be said to have started and quite by accident. We were in Hobart after the 2006 Sydney Hobart race and we left to sail back to Sydney on about January 2nd 2007. Since leaving Hobart that day, we have sailed rather jerkily around the world. So, the second circumnavigation includes our near disastrous upending off Gabo Island (I think there's a link somewhere in the blog to this story) and loss of the mast, a tow from the Water Police launch into Eden and the long trip motoring back up the coast to Sydney. When we left Hobart, Pete, myself, Tom Crozier (no relation) and Dozy Old Fart Fenwick were on board as far as Eden, then Bermagui. The others left me there and went home and Brian Maher came down to Bermagui a few days later to help me motor the old barge back to Sydney after John Witchard had stripped the engine and got it running again.
Then later that year there was Baton Rouge and Pascal Lee drew his map in my notebook on the bar of the Varsity pub at Louisiana State University and the North West Passage idea morphed into misty life. Pascal's map is now on T shirts all over the place with Berri's Kingfisher. If anyone wants one, let me know and I'll organise a link to the Demented Ferret who produces them.
Rather a lot of intensive planning later, Pete couldn't come and Corrie McQueen flew out from England for the real start of the NW Passage attempt and the very long non-stop trip up the Pacific to Adak in the Aleutians and then Dutch Harbour. Kimbra Lindus joined us in Dutch Harbour for the actual transit. Then Nome, waiting for the ice at Point Barrow to break. The Bering Strait - two continents, two oceans, two superpowers. The transit, Arctic Circle to Arctic Circle - 31 days of astonishing experiences - ice, whales, foggy pinkouts, swimming bears, belugas, the old and the new DEW lines, the ghosts of Francis Crozier and the Franklin crews, freezing rain, Beechey Island so near yet so far, Eleanor on Devon Island for the eclipse. And the people we met. Amodino, Arctic Wanderer and the other boats. Afterwards, in Nuuk, the most expensive beer I've ever bought. The smell of fish from Paamiut, still with me. A thoroughly unpleasant Atlantic crossing and Gordy and Dave Carne rounding that bit off in Falmouth. Changing the engine in the car park in Falmouth and then the gearbox in Hamble. And the gearbox again in Lisbon. The application to the Russians for the NE passage. Berri's second Fastnet. And then it's been just Pete and me from Falmouth to here. About 26000 miles so far this time and about 2000 to go to Sydney, roughly the same distance as the first one. Only when we get back to Sydney this time can we tidy it up and say we've done the circumnavigation the more elegant way, starting from Sydney in April 2008.
But easily the best thing has been the people we have met - generous, amazing, involved, helpful, wonderful people all along the way from Adak to the Kerguelens and in Australia, the UK, Crosshaven, Lisbon, Cape Town and everywhere. And not just those we met face to face but all y'all out there - even Anarchists! - who read this nonsense and write to us and keep us going with your interest.
We're not home yet though. The Examiner lurks and never sleeps. We think she might have taken a fancy to Huey and we might even send her on a blind date with Iridium Bill if she lets us through the barn door. And there's a hippo I know who should meet her too.