Written by Geoff Evans, Head of Sailing
Behind us was a track of wonderful green luminosity caused by the disturbance of algae as we sped into the darkness towards Hong Kong. The wind was topping 38 knots and Spirit of Outward Bound HK was surfing majestically down 6 meter waves, the sound of the wind was occasionally drowned out by the roar of the ocean as Spirit’s speed crept up to over 12 knots. Spirit seemed happy to be back doing what she does best, sailing oceans safely and providing a safe platform for us to enjoy the thrill and excitement that natures table provides.
9 days earlier, a group of strangers met at Outward Bound Hong Kong and were welcomed on board Spirit, their home for the next week or more. After an initial safety brief the group were left to settle into their new environment. Sleeping on board was an option but most chose to stay ashore in the dormitory accommodation provided. The following day was dedicated to safety training and sea survival. As with all our activities safety is our prime consideration, we hope for the best but train for the worst. Everyone was given the opportunity to swim up to an inflated life raft and get inside, experience setting off fire extinguishers and distress flares. By the end of the day everyone was more aware and there was an air of excitement and anticipation of what adventures lay ahead. I am sure that few slept well that night with minds buzzing.
Early next day the crew were setting lines, preparing food and getting ready to leave the safety of shore to sail towards Taiwan. Engine on, lines let go, Spirit gently edged her way forward and headed out to sea. The wind was a little light for this Round the World Racing Yacht but Spirit performed well and this gave the crew a little time to acclimatize to their new environment.
As we reached open sea the motion of the ocean caused occasional ‘Mal de Mer’ but that soon passed. Two days later after an uneventful passage, Taiwan lay stretched before us. Immigration formalities complete, the crew disembarked to various hotels to enjoy a well-deserved shower and dinner on a plate that steady and not sliding across the table. Taiwan, what a wonderful place, the food was delicious, the people so welcoming and the scenery delightful. We could have spent much longer there but our departure date was fixed. New crew arrived, were briefed and of we went. The return trip was fantastic, great winds, fast sailing, an adrenaline filled roller coaster ride, ‘Fast and Furious’. We had allowed three days for the return leg but conditions were near perfect and we were well on track to only take one and a half days. Unfortunately with just over one hundred miles left to run, the wind died, our speed decreased and we had no choice but to start the engine and motor back home.
The crew, who arrived as strangers, left as friends. They had shared an experience that was unique and belonged only to them, no one could deny their achievement, and no one could take away the memories. Thank you to all the crew of Sailing Yacht Spirit, thank you for being brave and adventurous enough to take on this challenge, for stepping into the arena and for achieving something great. Well done and fair winds.