We sped into the darkness towards Hong Kong with a track of wonderful green luminous algae behind us. The wind was topping 38 knots and Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong was surfing majestically down six 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. The yacht 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 nature’s table provides.
Nine 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 briefing, 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. Everyone was given the opportunity to swim up to an inflated life raft and get inside, and to experience setting off fire extinguishers and distress flares. As with all our activities, safety is our prime consideration; we hope for the best but train for the worst. 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.
Groups step abroad on “Spirit of Outward Bound Hong Kong Today! They embark on our offshore voyage to Taiwan in March 2019.
Early next day the crew set lines, prepared food, and got 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 wasn’t 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 off 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 crews, 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 crews 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.
By Geoff Evans