Posted on 21/11/2017 to World Cruising
In this installment, we introduce Ol’ Cap’n Babbage, skipper of the intrepid Madrisa of Poole. Corsair, known madman, and joker – his reputation precedes him (mainly because we warn people he is coming). ‘Funcle’ Colin – as we like to think of him – has undergone quite a feat lately. Here is a little backstory:
He sailed, single-handedly, from Gosport (UK) to Lisbon pretty much non-stop. The journey took about three weeks; no autohelm, there may have been a chart onboard somewhere, nothing to eat but Mars bars, and yet he made it! He ambled up to Haji one morning in Lisbon, and called out my name. I did a bit of a double take – standing there, a man we had thought lost at sea for sure – twice! He somewhat resembled a dead man standing (no offence, Col), and I ran to hug/hold him up as he looked like he might collapse at any second. Our reunion was a brief one, as Colin had things to do and some sleep to catch up on. I hurriedly informed the awaiting masses that Colin was alive and well (for want of a better word). I think we sighed a collective sigh of relief.
When I saw him the next day, he was a new man. Amazing what a good night’s sleep and eating something that isn’t a Mars bar can do! Ready to tackle the next leg of the adventure.
Colin had attempted to join the ARC+, but unfortunately all 75 spaces were taken (at least that’s what they told him) so in typical Babbage style, he said ‘sod them’ or words to that effect, and planned on. We would be his ‘boat on the inside’, and keep him up to date on current affairs. Hence, we plodded forth, Haji and Madrisa forming their own little flotilla; from Lisbon to Madeira, Madeira to Las Palmas, Las Palmas to Cape Verde… Madrisa sitting alongside all the ‘other’ ARC+ boats. And so the ARC+1 was born (also referred to as the NARC – Not ARC)!
When we crossed the starting line at Las Palmas, Madrisa and crew were there. We stayed neck and neck for a while before Haji pulled ahead, Madrisa leaving a slightly zig-zagging wake behind.
When we arrived in Mindelo, Madrisa and crew weren’t there, but did arrive soon after.
Upon departure, she was like a new ship; autohelm working, cruising shoot repaired, we even supplied a paper chart for their arrival in St Lucia. I believe the crew also insisted on stocking up on something that wasn’t a Mars bar. In other words, fully prepared for leg 2 of the ARC+1.
When we crossed the starting line in Mindelo, the crew of Madrisa were to be found at the floating bar.
Onboard Haji, five days in. ‘Sail ahead!’ ‘Where?’ ‘Just off port bow. Red, white and blue spinnaker.’ Out come the binoculars. ‘It’s a ketch. Its sails are… Its sails are cream. Can it be?’ ‘It’s Madrisa!’ Cue general noises of bewilderment, happiness, and disbelief that they could be ahead of us.
The VHF crackled into life and the unmistakable – although very broken up – voice of Captain Babbage swept through the cabin, bringing the crew of Haji to huddle around the speaker. Banter ensued, messages were passed, insults thrown casually, songs were sung – anyone listening would think we were barking! The skippers brought us within shouting distance, and we exchanged longing looks across the decks, no potatoes were thrown this time (Babbage’s idea of a hand grenade).
The simple fact that after five days at sea with very few sightings of other boats, we should come across our friends, and within spitting distance, was really quite astounding.
In any case, thank you Colin, Madrisa, and crew for making our crossing a more enjoyable and entertaining one. We look forward to reuniting the flotilla in Rodney Bay, where Madrisa will surely win every prize available in the ARC+1.
Any ressemblance to people – living or dead – is purely coincidental, unless it is Colin, for this is a story about Colin.