A FALKLANDS father and son team have completed an 11,000 mile Rite of Passage, delivering a yacht, Fiddler’s Green, to the Falklands from North Carolina.
On Monday, Andrez Short arrived back in Stanley Harbour on his new yacht accompanied by his son, Tom (16) and friend Steve Dent, who joined the boat on Ascension Island. Andy Furniss was a crew member on the first leg from the US to the Azores.
Ups and downs characterised the epic trip including a 36 hour storm and an infected knee – on the upside they caught a fish in the north Atlantic and got to watch dolphins leaping from the sea.
Penguin News invited Andrez and Tom to share their experiences.
PN: You’ve been back a couple of days now: how do you feel?
A: Happy to be back, yes. It was 122 days. It becomes your life. But it’s surreal and nice to be back.
T: Yes, it’s nice to be back, but it doesn’t seem quite real.
PN: How did it feel being out of sight of land for so long?
T: It got tiring towards the end. Three months on a small boat is a long time.
A: This was a different type of journey from an earlier trip we did to Norway 16 years ago. That was cruising - this was a delivery voyage. There was virtually no stopping on this journey; no resting in ports. We were sailing every day.
T: I enjoyed the pace of the boat. You could take all afternoon to make supper, or 15 minutes to walk around the boat: a very different pace from on land.
A: We kept to a routine: whoever was awake monitored the wind, the sails, the AIS (ship tracking system), updated the log and so on. There was always something to do.
When three of us were onboard, we would do three hours on watch, then six hours off. When it was just Tom and I between the Azores and Ascension, we would take it in turns to be on watch.
Although the pace of life was slower, there was always movement. So, activities like cooking take a lot longer. Safety is paramount, so you needed to think about moving pots, or where to place cups. You had to be constantly aware of safety. Would doing something be dangerous, was always uppermost in our minds.
PN What did you miss most from life on land?
T: Not much. It was so different and interesting most of the time. And I had my music and books.
A: I enjoyed the solitude. It was brilliant to be away from TV. It was a reality check. The “In Reach” kit (communication and tracking device) was amazing. It kept us in touch every day with loved ones and people all over the world who were interested in our journey. This was very different from 16 years ago, when we were very much on our own at sea.
For example, my knee got infected, and I let Alison, at home, know by a daily email. She got in touch with KEMH, who suggested getting some anti-biotics. We were some distance from Ascension, so called some passing ships, and one confirmed they would supply some pills. Once we knew the brand, Beccy Edwards messaged us with dosage. Amazing!
PN How long did it take to plan such a venture?
A: We bought the boat in August 2015, and wanted to sail after Tom had finished his GCSEs. So that gave us about eight months, but I could have done it more quickly. We made lists of everything we would need. We took lots of good food on board so we would have a varied and interesting diet. We baked bread and biscuits almost every day. Food is important on a boat to keep you healthy and keep morale up.
For the route planning, we had little choice. The straight-line route would take us against the currents and winds, and risk hurricanes. So, we chose a zig-zag route across the Atlantic, which meant we were helped by the wind most of the way. It was a long way round, but it was the safest option.
PN: Name some high points?
T: Catching a fish in the North Atlantic.
A: It was the only one we caught. The oceans are fished out. 16 years ago, we could live off the fish we caught every day.
T: Seeing the dolphins leaping around us at night in the phosphorescence was just incredible.
PN: Any low points?
A: We had a Groundhog Day north of Ascension Island when the wind and currents were against us for days. We never seemed to get anywhere, and wake up in the same position we’d been the day before.