A very kind man


We woke up, packed up and James left for the airport at 8.30, the ferry wasn’t until 2.30 so the children and I had some time to fill. We swam in the sea, ate ice creams, explored the streets of Fort de France until finally it was time to grab our bags and walk to the ferry terminal. Fortunately I had managed to unload nineteen of the cuddly toys onto Tony who had taken them home to grandma, where they would be looked after, this meant we had very little luggage. Heath still managed to fall face first into a swamp of mud and now his only set of clothes were brown, brilliant. We finally made it, washed Heath in a bathroom and checked in. It was all very official and we all had our bags checked before being shown through to board the ferry. I watched the children very closely on this crossing, yes it was on a very fast ferry but we were still at sea for an hour and a half, they both seemed fine being back on a boat though and the time passed very quickly, what with watching Martinique disappear and St Lucia appear. I was again concerned about customs and not being allowed in but we were through quickly and in St Lucia. We grabbed a cab and gave the hotel name that Mark had given us and we were off, we were nearly there, it had been a long day and I was ready to collapse. We arrived at St James’s Club Resort, Morgan Bay at about six o’clock and were given the warmest of welcome, Mark appeared and I pretty much disolved in his hug which turned into me crying on this poor mans shoulder for an inappropriate amount of time. I had never met him before and now here I was, an emotional wreck, clinging to him, with two small children, we all looked an utter state, Heath was still a slight shade of brown. This wonderful man didn’t even flinch and I was allowed to cry on him for as long as I needed to. His generosity was enormous we were taken to the most beautiful room, just meters from the beach, it had the biggest bed in the world in it, with huge pillows and white linen. On the bed were bags of Christmas presents for each of the children, well it was wonderful to watch them unwrap all kinds of toys and they were delighted.  The hotel is all inclusive and Mark has said we are his guests and that we can stay for as long as we need to. Trust me I had another cry, it is too much. I offered to work, to live in staff quarters, I said how this was too much but he just said no, in fact he said “no, you’ve had a terrifying time, lie down in the sun with a pina colada and relax.” We were left to unpack and then we went to one of the restaurants where we got to feast on an oriental buffet and still squeeze in three deserts, it was delicious and I did feel bad for Jim because this was his kind of food heaven. It probably wasn’t even nine o’clock but we climbed into the ocean that is our bed, so warm and cuddly and oh so, very, very, very nice and slept for over twelve hours straight. 

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12 responses to “A very kind man

  1. The kindest of men. I think he’s eligible for a sainthood for his thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit. Thank you Mark. The teddies have all been through the washing machine and tumble dryer and lived like little gargoyles tucked behind radiators for a few days and are now in your room, on the rocking chair, waiting for you to come home. Molly has displayed an interest in them and I have found them dotted around the house but none have come to harm. What an adventure they’ve had. Escaping evisceration by customs. I could imagine that had Tony had to declare them he would have been taken to one side for a while and possibly been sectioned.

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  2. oooooooo here comes the tear s again so wonderful to know that the flame of human kindness is burning bright. Still you do deserve a good dose of anything and everything that’s good Fran, so just enjoy this speck in time to recharge and relax.

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  3. Wow! I don’t know what to say, I came across your blog today from a link on another friend’s site and I read your entire story start to finish over the past few hours. I laughed, I cried. Your blog is so real and through it all, I’m still jealous of your adventures–but you are definitely making me rethink an Atlantic crossing. I will continue to follow your amazing story.

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  4. I have sat and read the whole blog today…! Loved every minute of it, your writing certainly makes your adventures come alive! I’ve been on the edge of my seat……. Currently anticipating the next install ment, I love a real life adventure story! Good luck with finding the boat xx

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  5. Fran, your writing had my husband and myself devouring the story as we had breakfast on this Sunday morning. We both were in tears multiple times as you described the fears of your children’s safety, the despair and frustration of your husbands plans and the enormous kindness (and bravery even) of complete strangers.
    We wish you the best of luck and hope that you find your floating home.

    Jan and Mike
    Florida Keys, USA

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  6. Hello Coombes family have seen a share on fb about the rescue. Great to see you are all safe and well. Praying the yacht is found and you can continue this great adventure, I’m sure you will. Have shared your fb post with my brother in-law (a just retired navy Officer and also sails). Noah says HELLO!! to Heath. Jules

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  7. I heard about your family having to abandon your boat when we were sailing the Grenadines for Christmas vacation. Back home in Colorado now and I’ve had a chance to read your blog and hear the story from the eyes of a mom. Being a mom myself and a past “boat kid” I felt the need to respond to your blog. I can’t imagine the fear, anxiety and everything else you felt as a mother during your ordeal…but my mom can. When I was about 6 years old my mom and stepdad bought a 42 foot sloop in Waukegan, IL. We sailed Traumerei down the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers (well motored with our mast down), sailed through the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean. Our goal was to make it to Grenada and start our new life there. It wasn’t as “big” as crossing the Atlantic but we had all sorts of harrowing experiences including being unexpectedly hit by the wake of a barge which involved all things not in locked cabinets to become flying missiles in the galley, losing the engine in a narrow part of the river when the mast was down, having the forestay snap and losing the engine again on the transit from Florida to Grenada which made us have to divert to St. Thomas for repairs. On that transit we also narrowly missed what we now believe was a water spout when I was on watch as the “eyes” for my legally blind stepfather and bumped a whale in the Bermuda Triangle.

    We also had some encounters with being helped by other boats. One was a shrimp boat that pulled us off of the mud somewhere around New Orleans. I was put onto the shrimp boat for safety while they pulled our boat out of the mud. My memory is of how cool all the equipment on the boat was and how nice the sailor was who gave me a tour of their boat, oh and how bad is smelled! The other was when we ran aground on a sand bar outside of Mobile, Alabama in the middle of the night with the tide going out. The boat ended up on it’s side with waves crashing over it. I was on the radio doing the mayday call while my parents tried to deal with the situation. Eventually we were rescued by the Coast Guard where they spoiled me rotten with hot chocolate, marshmallows and whipped cream. The boat was towed off at high tide with hardly any damage done to it except a waterlogged cabin.

    In addition to all of these “experiences” we also lost our rudder. We were in between St. Thomas and Grenada when this happened. Chris Doyle was aboard our boat and he wrote an article a couple years ago about the whole ordeal. You can read about it here: http://doyleguides.info/art-The%20Traumerei%20Delivery.html

    Anyway, the purpose of writing this to you is because I am sure you are going through all sorts of emotional thoughts in regards to your experience and the effect it may/or does have on your kids. I want you to know that I wouldn’t have changed any of these experiences (although my mom might have wanted to). These experiences have made me who I am. Having lived the life I did as a kid it turned me into an adult who is a problem solver, adventurer and who is not afraid of life. I also have seen the goodness in people and how there is always someone there to help when you really need it. Although I chose a different life for my kids (in the mountains of Colorado) we are not without risks and devastating experiences here as well. My kids have lost friends to avalanches and raging rivers. These experiences have also made them stronger, taught them to appreciate life and to respect the power of nature.

    I will be thinking of you and your family and hoping that you find your beloved boat and continue your adventure. By the way, I love the name of your boat. Dove was one of my favorite books as a kid fueling my dream of sailing the world.

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  8. Hi!
    Thank you for sharing your story! This type of scenario is one of my fears about an ocean crossing. Your journey has been harrowing, but what amazing kindness you have been shown. We are inundated with negative news and reading about these wonderful people helping you out makes my heart happy.

    I admire your courage and adventurous spirit! I pray you find your boat and can continue on your adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an amazing family you are!! I hope you find Dove and keep on. Yours are the bravest kids!! Should you require further assistance I can get you in contact with a very good friend in Antigua ( a shipwright himself) who will be glad to help.
    Big hugs and kisses to you all!!

    Liked by 1 person

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