Haji and the ARC: A Family History

While we sailed across the Atlantic at the end of 2017, we were periodically emailing out blogs that were then uploaded to the World Cruising website. Over the next few weeks, we will be copying them over to Plane Sailing in case you missed them first time around! Each post will be dated with its original date of publishing.

Posed on: 05/11/2017 to World Cruising

“The most welcome participant this year is probably Nick Nixon of Haji, whose dramatic departure on a stretcher and ambulance in Gibralter had many of last year’s participents deeply concerned. […] Sailing together for over 30 years, the Nixons have been living aboard Haji and cruising permanently for the last three years.”

My throat tightens with emotion as I read the 1987 Yachting Monthly article, still onboard to this day. There is a small photo of Nan and Grandad, looking young, tanned, and relaxed – years before I would know them.

You see, to my Dad and me, doing the ARC+ this year means a lot more than crossing an ocean; we are making family history!
30 years ago, my Nan and Grandad took part in the 2nd ARC, sailing from Las Palmas to Barbados in Haji, their homebuilt Rival 38. They had been enroled to do the crossing the previous year, but had to forfeit their entry due to illness.
Now in 2017, same race (almost), same boat, two new generations. Even if it is all new to us, Haji will lead the way.

Me and Dad, onboard Haji

We were very proud (and surprised) to receive a special award from Las Palmas City Council for our family’s involvment in the ARC. However, we were running late and missed the presentation. Ironic, as us Nixons are usually known for our good time keeping! As it happened, we were waiting for our provisions to be delivered, and our tardiness cost us the chance to share my grandparents’ story. None the less, the rest of the family (many of whom have spent quite a bit of time sailing on Haji) were pleased to hear of our award. It will be proudly displayed alongside Haji’s 1987 ARC plaque.

Participating in the ARC had been a topic of conversation between Dad and I for quite some time. Taking part thirty years after Nan and Grandad very quickly went from an idea, to a possibility, to a reality. When we finally crossed the start line, it seemed like no time had passed at all, all the talk and preparations of this last year suddenly a distant memory.
We may not be quick and streamlined, and unlike in the ’87 race we are now one of the smallest boats, but we have other motives. As I sat at the bow while we crossed the start line, watching the other yachts already pulling ahead, I couldn’t help but think “Nan, Grandad, this one’s for you.”

Sidenote: Grandad (Frank ‘Nick’ Nixon) turned 90 this year, and although he suffers from dementia we try to keep him updated on Haji’s adventures. Nan (who was known as Sheena when she lived onboard) passed away a few years ago, but I like to think that despite her grumpy demeanor, she would be secretly proud of us.

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