|Sockdolager leaves Port Townsend for her next chapter with her new owners, Dwight and Carmel.|
|One of our favorite secret spots. Shhhh.|
|Thunderbird racing action. Jim's T-Bird is called "Thatuna."|
|Clipper Round the World Race legs. Crews said the North Pacific was the hardest.|
|Pizza, of course!|
|Tom, Alex and the Clipper fleet in Australia.|
Some of Tom’s friends were still aboard Garmin, and he was eager to see them. But… one does not greet such a fleet empty-handed, does one? Alex and I organized a shopping trip, and off we went to pick up goodies for the incoming crews… ohboyohboyohboy, we chuckled, are they ever gonna be surprised! Piles of food disappeared into Raven’s commodious storage spaces, even filling the dinghy.
|Plenty of room for stowing extra food. We filled the dinghy.|
Over the space of a week or so, we went roaring up full throttle to every incoming Clipper boat we could find, all of us honking and waving wildly, making Raven look like a boatful of spiders. SLOW DOWN! WE HAVE FRESH FOOOOOOD FOR YOU! we yelled.
|Raven at full speed trying to flag down Garmin. Campbell Mackie photo|
|Garmin crew not quite believing their eyes. Photo: Alex Weaver.|
|The witty LMax crew eyeing the bag 'O food.|
“RED OR WHITE?”
“Oh, white, sil vous plais.”
We tossed him a Bota Box. “Don’t worry,” we said, “it’s good boat wine and it bounces!”
|The stormy North Pacific stripped the entire port side of this Clipper boat.|
|Bell Harbor Marina, downtown Seattle. Photo: Port of Seattle.|
|Raven at her duty station.|
“Tom, do you think Sir Robin’ll be here in Seattle?” I said, gripping a well-thumbed first edition of Sir Robin’s book about that 1969 race, called “A World of My Own.”
“Oh yeah,” said Tom, “He always shows up at race stopovers.” And so begins the Tale of the Little Rogue Hospitality Boat.
|The world's only Temporary Floating Clipper Race Pub.|
Alex and I each had our copies of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s book, so we lay in wait for him to walk down the dock. Here he comes, I said.
Leave this to me, said Alex, and called out, “Sir Robin! Would you sign our books?”
“Why sure,” he said.
“Would you like to come aboard?” asked Jim, followed by, “And would you like a beer or glass of wine?”
“Red wine, please.”
Thus began an epic era in the annals of maritime history that did not end for three whole days.
At first: “Sir Robin…” said Alex.
“Stop calling me Sir, it’s just Robin,” he said.
Okay, we said.
“Have you got any more wine?” he said.
So there we were, a gathering crowd listening to the man himself spin yarns late into the evening, over mostly liquid dinners. It was, to put it mildly, an astonishing development.
“I’ve got an old friend who lives in this area, Robin mused, “John Guzzwell, it’s been years…”
“I KNOW HIM!” I exclaimed, then thought, just call him. Won’t that be a surprise. So I went below to call John, and he was pleased to hear from me. I told him who our guest was, and he said, “Oh, put him on, I’d love to talk to him!” So, walking up the steps from the cabin, I held out my phone and said, “Robin, John Guzzwell would like to speak with you.” He looked at me stunned, then looked at the phone and blurted, “Oh for God’s sake!” and reached for it. I laughed. They had a great conversation and we arranged to get these sailing legends together, two nights hence. For those of you who haven’t heard of John, he sailed the 21-foot self-built Trekka around the world in 1959. Robin told us that he himself had been utterly inspired by John.
|Clipper boat Qingdao wins the beauty contest.|
|Seattle's cruise ship baggage handling area became a sail loft.|
|Garmin's genoa clew ripped right out in a 60-knot gust.|
|Dr. Alex repairs sails. "Just like stitching up patients," she said.|
Garmin was also one of three or four boats that broke their carbon fiber bowsprits.
|Garmin crew holds up broken bowsprit. All repairs were made during the brief stopover, but for the crews and race support staff it was a scramble.|
|One of many bent stanchions - this one was aboard Unicef.|
Around 7PM a couple of well-dressed men stood on the dock and peered in. Come aboard! I said, but they demurred. What they wanted was for Robin to come to their boat, which was one of the bajillion dollar babies parked nearby, because they were all ready to host him. A collection of other equally well-dressed people were evidently waiting, too. Jim and I figured it must have been the official hospitality boat. Uh-oh, I thought, we might be interfering with official functions.
“Right. I’ll be over straight away,” said Robin.
An hour later, the envoy was back. “We’d like to INVITE you to come over to our boat,” they said, pointing. So Robin and his crew went, but were back aboard Raven within 90 minutes, and stayed until what in a pub would be called “closing time.”
“We’d better buy more boxes of wine,” I said to Jim. “That was fun!”
Our cruising friend Will Sugg could hardly believe it when I posted what was happening on Facebook, so he joined us for sail-mending over the next two days, and naturally, for the evening’s activities.
|Will Sugg helps Catherine, Garmin's crew in charge of sail repairs.|
Around 7PM, THREE well-dressed men stood outside Raven, but would not come aboard. “We were HOPING you might come over to OUR boat,” they said to Robin. “Be there in just a minute,” he answered. An hour later I whispered to Jim, “Here they come again, I think they hate us.”
Next day, sail repairs, third night, more wine and tales aboard Raven, but this time there were two well-dressed men and one well-dressed woman in the 7 PM envoy. I was feeling sorry for them, but hey, it was party time on the good ole Raven. And not only that, John and Dorothy Guzzwell were aboard, and the Clipper crews who recognized them were amazed, and we’d ordered pizza for everyone and were all having the time of our lives. In this photo Robin Knox-Johnston, Tom Reese, Jim Heumann and John Guzzwell are discussing offshore sailing. Jim said later, “I was about to say how long and tiring our 37-day passage from Mexico to the Marquesas was until I remembered just in time, who I was talking to!”
|Robin Knox-Johnston, Tom Reese, Jim Heumann and John Guzzwell.|
“I promise you, WE will be over soon,” said Robin. At this I was thinking, nuh-uh, they don't want me, not in these Carhartts. Just then, the “Visit Seattle” Clipper race boat arrived from China, and the entire Raven party, along with the bajillion dollar boat envoy, went down the dock to cheer them in. Speeches were made and Visit Seattle’s crew were whisked off to Customs to clear in, and when they came back down the dock we were dangling slices of pizza at them. The other boat’s envoy did not know who John Guzzwell was, so Robin explained it to them, in deservedly glowing terms, and the envoy invited him and Dorothy to their boat, too. By now they had stopped making eye contact with me, even though I was trying to tell them with my conciliatory smile, we didn't steal Robin, he just likes it here.
As Robin, John and Dorothy were leaving with the envoy, I said, “We’ll see you later,” but Robin looked at Jim, Alex, and Tom, grabbed my hand and said, “Oh no you don’t, you’re coming with us!” So, like pirates at a Blackbeard barbecue, the entire Raven party boarded the bajillion dollar boat, and its owners were mighty good sports about it. Jim and I made an early exit (I mean, Carhartts and Gucci, really) but within 90 minutes the gang was back aboard Raven. “We drank them dry,” said Robin.
|A sign stuck in Raven's window.|
There was a stunned silence. Good god, I thought, the great Robin Knox-Johnston just fell off our boat. What the hell do we do now?
|Will Sugg and others listening to Robin Knox-Johnston on the last night.|
|Karen Sullivan, Robin Knox-Johnston, and Jim Heumann.|
NOt counting a few short jaunts, there were two more cruises this year, both to Canada via the San Juans, and another 4-day sail in the San Juans aboard the 137' schooner Adventuress, but we’re going to save them for the next post.