With the exceptional speeds we’d enjoyed over the last couple of days we knew it wouldn’t last and the wind dropped. With the tide against us we were now averaging 2 knots. Rather than being a disappointment this gave us a great opportunity to set to and tidy the boat up. Vacuum cleaner in one hand and duster in the other we got absorbed in our spring cleaning mission that of course included scrubbing the decks! It was easy to forget that we on board a boat bobbing around in the sea, surrounded by tankers, frigates and floating cities.
When we were finished we started packing away, and then the skipper started flipping out about something. He couldn’t find Jill, the cat.
Immediately we all started turning the boat over looking for her. None of us had seen her for hours and slowly a horrible feeling starting spreading across the boat.
We checked and double checked and triple checked everywhere we had been. Of course in our cleaning frenzy we had had every door and cupboard and floorboard open, and had been making a lot of noise – enough to scare a cat overboard. After about half an hour we were desperate. It was obvious that Jill was nowhere to be seen and images of the poor thing struggling in the water started entering people’s heads. Paul refused to believe that she would have jumped overboard and insisted we search again. It was on this final search that someone eventually found her:
under the floorboards in the front cabin!
She had obviously wanted to get away from all the commotion and climbed down under the floors and walked down the other end of the space into a small corner, the poor thing. A huge sense of relief swept the boat but the cat didn’t seem to be that bothered by it all, though it must have been a traumatic experience for her. As the night closed in the wind picked up again and we anxiously watched the waypoint on the GPS get slowly closer and closer. With three independent GPS systems on board we were able to plot our path right down to the accuracy of a few metres. Around 11pm we could just make out the Cornish coastline through the poor visibility, though it wasn’t until 12.30am that we finally made it into Falmouth harbour. With pontoons costing a lot of money we opted to moor up on a floating buoy, which took us about 20 minutes to sort out, fiddling with ropes and boat hooks and spot lights. Eventually we had to hold Jason over the side by each ankle for him to hook the rope through the rusty hook on the buoy!
The reason for Jason’s keenness to volunteer for this task had been obvious: his girlfriend had driven down from St Albans and was waiting for him in a hotel room with a bottle of wine and he was desperate to get ashore! Not wanting to keep a man from his lady we immediately launched the tender from the back of the boat and skipper took him ashore. The rest of us sat on deck, polished off a few bottles of wine and played cards until about 5.30 in the morning. Hell, we’d earned it and this was a perfect end to a fantastic five days sailing that would have made even the most experienced sailor jealous.