Over the last two weeks of July I was being interviewed by a French yachting journalist (Jean-Yves Poirier – one time Wharram French agent and long-time friend) for an extensive biographical article in the French Yacht magazine, Chasse Marée.
Going through my past life and old files we were constantly distracted by the many offshore voyages – single handed, couples, families - made on Wharram catamarans. These people were/are not following a ‘master’, but are themselves ‘masters’ who use my design ability to become ‘People of the Sea’. One of these people is Rory McDougall.
In my last weblog about the Jester Challenge I wrote:
“In the early hours of Saturday 26th June Rory sailed his Tiki 21 ‘Cooking Fat’ into Newport, Rhode Island, finishing second in the Jester Challenge, just 2.5 hours after the Russian 25ft yacht ‘The Grand’, having sailed in 34 days from Plymouth, UK.
“I could not be at the start of the Jester Challenge as I had just had a knee replacement operation. From my armchair I was quietly confident in Rory’s planned voyage. I knew Rory knew what he was doing and the boat would look after him, simple as that.
“Take care Rory, our thoughts will be with you. We look forward to welcoming you home.”
Rory left Rhode Island on July 10th and was making excellent progress home, with peak milages of as much as 180 – 185 Nm a day, i.e. 7.7 knots average, on a tiny boat with an 18ft WLL this is an average speed of nearly twice its square root of the WLL!! We kept a close watch on his progress. He reached Lands End on August 1st, exactly 22 days after leaving Rhode Island.
On August 2nd it was Hanneke’s Birthday. In the evening our son Jamie and friends had organised a surprise garden BBQ party. During the day we had been checking Rory’s position on his website and knew he was getting close to home, but had some light winds after the Lizard. At 10 o’clock we discovered Rory was about 2 hours from Lympstone on the Exe estuary, his home port. I announced to the guests: “Sorry folks, Hanneke and I have to go and meet Rory on his arrival!”
Within quarter of an hour we had thrown some bedding in the car, collected cameras and grabbed our ‘brew up’ kit (forgot the matches though!) and were driving the 100 miles along the dark empty roads of Cornwall to Exeter, from there just a short way South along the East side of the estuary to the village of Lympstone.
Once past Exeter the roads got narrower, by the time we were near Rory’s port of arrival, we were in narrow lanes originally made for donkey carts. We drove right through the deserted village at midnight without spotting the tiny harbour hidden behind houses. Backtracking we found the modest Sailing Club, up the stairs in a small room with bar was Rory, his family, close friends and club members, about 15 in all. He had arrived about 20-30 minutes before us. He had brought Michelle, his wife, a self-baked loaf of bread (off Plymouth in the calm) as she had complained of always hearing about the wonderful bread he baked at sea, but never tasting it herself. (“All because the Lady loves... wholemeal bread.” – remember the chocolate advert?)
Such is the modesty of Rory, he was happy, his two way voyage across the Atlantic aboard his self-built 21ft catamaran had been successfully completed, his family and friends were around him, his two children vowing to become ocean sailors.
Yet at this moment of happiness I was a little saddened. Jean-Yves and I had in the previous weeks been discussing the rise amongst racing sailors of sponsored ‘Adrenalin Junkies’, who end their ‘Heroic’ voyages clasping ‘ejaculating’ Champaign bottles to their midriffs with TV cameras and large publicity crowds in attendance.
It is time Self-Help, Self-Sufficient sailors like Rory should be honoured for the hope and example they offer to would-be intrepid sailors who can never get sponsorship.