Finishing the crossing 

Day 18 still

The Tilly Mint is a Discovery 67, she is a beautiful yacht, Andrew and Arwyn both American run her as a charter boat for a family in England. They were bringing her back over to the Caribbean and their first charter that season was in less than a week, they had lost a day turning back to rescue us so it was going to be very tight for time. Kat and Will were their friends who were helping crew on the crossing, Kat is also American but Will is British to be exact Cornish, from Mevagissey. The guy I had handed my kids to was from Cornwall, my favourite place in the world, our home. Finally there was Dan also from England and this was something like his seventeenth time crossing the Atlantic. All of them were wonderful and made us feel really welcome. It had been incredibly stressful for these guys too, they had never rescued anyone before, add into that two small children and the hideous sail into wind conditions that they had had to do for eighty miles to get to us, I think everyone was a bit shell shocked. Arwyn produced the most fabulous food at every meal, I personally don’t know how she does it, it is very hard to cook at sea because your inside, there’s a lot of movement and you get nauseous really quickly, well I do. On that first day we had pulled pork with rice and vegetables for lunch, followed by marinated chicken for dinner. We hadn’t had meat since the canaries and just fell on it, it was delicious. The crew were also awesome with the children, playing cards, watching films, fishing with them and the kids loved it, there was always someone to play with or talk to, I watched them and was so proud of them, they had been through so much, had been incredibly brave and they seemed fine, happy, like nothing had happened, they were just enjoying meeting new people. I still can’t sleep at night so spend time in the cockpit chatting to those on watch, they’ve offered James the choice to join the watch but at the moment all he thinks is that with his luck he’ll break their boat, so bless him he refuses.

Day 19

We continue sailing to Martinique we should be there tomorrow evening, it’s an extra 200 nautical miles from Barbados which I think we’ve now passed, but at least we’re going to get to complete the crossing. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to these people, they have made a horrible situation feel actually ok and in fact we are all having a wonderful time finishing our Atlantic crossing. I had a little well up moment with Heath, we were talking about the transfer and how when I was trying to get in the life raft my cap blew off and I lost it, Heath piped up that it was actually his hat that I had lost, his favourite quiksilver cap, Will said he had seen it happen he then disappeared downstairs, reappearing with his quicksilver cap which he handed to Heath, it was again so generous and kind and I am an emotional wreck. Throughout the day we eat great food, plates of freshly baked cookies, beef stew, Jim is in meat heaven, the kids watched Star Wars with Andrew and Arwyn and James and I spent the day trying not to panic at the situation we had found ourselves in.

Day 20 Friday 23rd December

Today is my mums 70th birthday, happy birthday, hope you’re not too stressed, sorry that we stole your husband and that we’re now on the other side of the ocean, oh my god she is going to be freaking out. I know this because one she’s my mum and two when the coastguard would ring up they would ask is there anyone we can contact, let them know how you are, what’s happening etc and we had to tell her. Tony had been messaging her each evening of the crossing with our position and a few snippets of the day, but when it went wrong I had used up all the credit calling the coastguard, so now we wouldn’t be able to message her, as we needed all communication for emergency. Tony had sent a gentle message saying it had gone a bit wrong but that the coastguard were aware of our position. We knew she was going to need more than this, so when the coastguard asked I said “I think my mum will be contacting you, please speak to her” and they did and then when they’d ring they’d  have little messages of love for us from her, this was nice but we all felt awful that she was on her own, and now it was her birthday. Sorry mum x.

The wind dropped today and we motored the last few hours into Martinique, at around five in the afternoon Andrew said to Heath what can you see on the horizon and Heath got to shout “land ahoy”. We all went to sit up at the bow and watched the land on the horizon become more and more real, it was our first glimpse of land in almost three weeks, it was lovely. Whilst up there we were surrounded by a pod of beautiful, incredibly bouncy dolphins, so we had our first sight of land and dolphins all at once, it was a wonderful moment.


It feels very bittersweet to arrive on a boat that isn’t ours, we have done it, we’ve crossed the Atlantic, it may have taken 2 yachts, 2 life rafts and 2 cargo ships but we’d done it. We set about helping the crew clean the boat, Isla working her way around with the vacuum was very cute, in fact I think she may have a future career as a hostess on yachts as she was always helping Arwyn and would wander around the boat with plates full of freshly baked cookies offering them to everyone. I spoke through email with the owners of the boat and expressed my huge thanks to them, their boat and their crew, they were very understanding as they had completed the crossing before with their own three children. They had been the ones to receive the phone call from the coastguard and had agreed for the Tilly Mint to come to our aid! We arrived in Martinique at around eight that evening, moored alongside the fuelling pontoon, met Douglas who was in charge, showered, had a lush dinner and then went ashore for a beer. We found a little bar and drank, the kids loved that they were up until midnight eating knickerbocker glories and listening to grown up chat, we headed back to the boat, put the kids to bed and then sat on deck and talked through the drama of the last few days, it doesn’t feel real now, but I’m sure the bubble will burst tomorrow when we’re on our own and reality will kick our arse.


5 responses to “Finishing the crossing 

  1. So pleased you are all safe, and that 2017 will be good to you. Good luck, Stay safe, Trish & the Smile crew


  2. Oh Fran… You fabulous family.. You have been and are all so brave.. Just finished reading your sad, crazy exsperience…..
    There’s a book/ movie in there…..!!!
    Not that you wana Hear that now…
    Big love to you, Heath, Isla.. And I pray that James is back with you with the boat in tow.. Xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Fran…just finished reading all this. I am still crying. You are an amazing writer and an amazing woman. I think that your kids are the bravest pair ever. I hope that James gets lucky with the boat. Good luck with the future and I am sure I’ll see you in Cornwall again sometime. Love Jan xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey guys so happy you’re all well and safe. I’ve only just found out about the blog from Caz my better half. I’d heard about the rubber from Geoff Treverton in the usual place,” The Red Lion” then had a chat to Roy the next day. If you feel like it I’d love to get some drinks in and have a chat about it all as it’s something I’ve considered doing. See you soon in Da Quay


  5. I missed you all and Tony dreadfully but I wasn’t on my own. I had two dogs and a crazy cat for company and more than that, much more, I had Duncan and we had a great time, out with Angelina, Kate and Chris. It was a brilliant evening. When you are home we’ll do it again with everyone there and show you how good it was. Mum xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

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