Well that’s it – MAGIC is on the hard in Jolly Harbour, Antigua – and we are in the airport about to board the plane and May is somewhere …we had to leave her at Cargo. I was distraught. We walked her, fed her and made sure she had plenty of water. But then we had to put her in her crate, shut the door on her and hand her to an incompetent Cargo guy who took her to his office. We can only hope that she will be taken great care of and that she will be put on our plane. This is no ordinary luggage this is May! I kept correcting the Cargo staff when they said ‘it’ will be put on the plane and ‘it’ will be well cared for – I said “She is not an ‘it’ she is May!” They of course thought I was a weeping mad woman. The paperwork and vet visits have been a challenge (the previous word is a MASSIVE understatement) but we always knew we would make it and that we would eventually be clicking into our seats for the flight home.
We have met the kindest and the rudest people – we have seen the widest gap between competence and incompetence that is possible to have.
It has been a roller coaster getting to this point. Over the last three weeks we have sorted and wiped and polished and binned and repaired and scrubbed and painted and carried and scrubbed and scrubbed. We have had a lot of forms to complete and vets to see. We have had our feet in two worlds – one – the world of living aboard cruisers – joining in the fun of beach BBQs and meeting for sundowners. The other preparing to go home.
We have been naive about a lot of things to do with living aboard and sailing. Leaving Magic on the hard at the end of the season – or ‘decommissioning’ her is yet another steep learning curve. We didn’t have a clue and have been given lots of hints and tips from other cruisers and from the team at Jolly Harbour. From ‘pickling’ the water maker to cleaning the bilges and blocking the seacocks – there was yet another long list. Then there is the cradle and crate we are storing her in – and then someone to check on her while we are away – and of course as with everything in sailing it costs a fortune – to leave Magic for eight months is costing us around £7000. But we know she will be in good hands and as safe as any boat can be if a hurricane does hit Antiqua.
We will be back on Tuesday 27th December and we hope we will we sailing for another season. I know we have put Magic up for sale – boats can (and often do) take a very long time to sell. So we are planning on having another season in the Caribbean. We will ‘do’ the British Virgin Islands and around that area and aim to cross from Bermuda to take Magic back to Lagos in Portugal for Spring 2017. Mark has said he would sail her back – May and I will fly! But flying with May is not fun.
As we sat on the plane I asked the attendant if May was on the flight. She said “Yes, she is I heard her barking”, I said thank you and then burst into tears. I was relived May was on the flight with us but I knew that if she is barking she was probably stressed. It is upsetting being separated from May and not knowing how she is but perhaps I was also tired and emotional as it was the end of an incredible adventure.
It is almost impossible to write about reflections on 18 months – it’s too long a span of time and it has been too incredible. We bought our first boat, sailed across the Bay of Biscay in December, lived in Portugal for six months, sailed in the Med, crossed the Atlantic and cruised the Caribbean for five months. Each part of this adventure has been unique and we have learned more and spent more than we thought possible.
But it really is the people that have made our adventure memorable. We are so privileged to have met and become friends with so many outstanding people.
We are now back in the UK and although it was zero degrees and hail stones when we arrived it is now 27degrees and Sunny. We are seeing Yorkshire afresh, which is lovely. I went to Sainsbury’s and was so overwhelmed that I thought I was going to have a panic attack! We are literally noticing everything and being grateful for what we have. Our home – The Old Church is stunning and as it is spring there are lambs in the fields and blossom on the trees. We went to a fete in Knaresborough met the keeper of the Ravens and watched the Morris Dancers and had a pint of real ale in Blind Jacks and listened to the town crier announce what was next. Then we went to Harrogate to have roast lamb and Yorkshire pudding. We are really treasuring some simple things like having a lot of space, a large bed with beautiful covers, a kitchen that doesn’t move and not having to check if the house is where we left it when we go out.
May is beside her self with joy – skipping and rolling around on the spring grass and running in and out of the hedgerows. Our diaries are filling up fast with friends and family catch ups and business meetings. And we are working on our hobbies – something we promised each other we would. Mark is painting again and I am learning the guitar, singing and writing.
We have had an incredible adventure.
But we are very happy to be home.
We have learned that we can live with less.
We are appreciating everything
and we have learned to take nothing for granted.