This time last week we were well in sight of land, cruising at around 3 knots towards the Caribbean paradise of Antigua. We were greeted out at sea by an ABSAR Rib (antigua & barbuda search & rescue) carrying Jonathan and Ted, who took some pretty special photos of us before it got dark. We initially thought all the mums had freaked out due to our comms breakdown and ordered them out to rescue us, but thankfully it was just to get snaps of us looking nice and skinny in the sunset.
Little did we know, the two hours that followed were to be one of the toughest shifts of the whole trip! We'd had our nice photos and lots and lots of random boats coming to welcome us blairing out music etc all very vibey, and then the wind completely dropped and exposed how totally ruined our pedal system is. It was a bit like pedalling through sludge without any nice big waves behind us and gear bearings that sounded like chalk on a squeaky blackboard.
It then got even worse! We turned the corner into our new favourite place - Falmouth Harbour - and the wind was blowing right into our face. We had Ted and Jonathan on the ABSAR radio: "Are you guys ok? Just a mile to go now, better put some muscle into it for this last bit... do you have oars on board?" ... to which our response was "we got a pretty rusty system on our hands guys, going as quick as we can, thanks for guiding us in - i'm afraid there is no way we are touching the oars". We were able to push ourselves along at just about 0.8 knots at a sprint. We could hear a huge chants of "Ohhh, Ahh, Revelllarrr!" in the distance and all these massive ships letting off their fog horns to welcome us in. But we were moving slower than a snail, pedalling through concrete now, loving it - but slightly freaking out that somehow we might not make it. We were literally drifting into moored up boats we were going so slowly, and the voices of everyone in the crowd welcoming us must of started to go very hoarse indeed... but the chants and the horns did not stop!
The emotions on board started to kick in. The lads got the flairs out and we nearly burnt our hands off and fell in the water but it was definitely worth it - the photos are pretty darn cool and the feeling was unbelievable.
So there we were after forty and a bit days. Drifting up to the landing stage of Antigua Yacht club in Falmouth Harbour, pedal system somehow intact, hundreds of people including all of our families chanting "Oooh, Aaah Revellar!" and screaming our names / playing music and handing us beers and bottles of champagne! What!!! It was absolutely INSANE!!! I completely balled my eyes out, think the others did to. It was incredibly emotional and heart wrenchinly satisfying - and every person on the landing knew about the cause and what it meant. The lads, draped in union jacks, champagne all over the place, Waddadlis in hand, surrounded by the most amazing amount of support - which has perhaps been the only constant throughout the two year journey. There is a photo of Hec and his Mum and Dad below which, for me, sums it up. All of the other ones in this blog are also pretty darn cool but that one of the T's is special. That is what it's all about! We all had those moments with our fams and girlfriends/friends of course and just thinking about it is making me smile/well up a bit whilst I sip on a cheeky coffee on the beach with a blue sea in front of me on dry land. Not gonna lie - feeling pretty smug right now.
What a journey it has been everyone. I don't want to ramble on for too long about pedalo mechanics whilst I'm experiencing the high of being on dry land in Antigua. I know it's sad but I love it. Just after Hec's last blog the whole system failed with 5 days to go. The casing that holds the gearbox in place and acts as a rock for the rest of the system ripped off the bottom of the boat. We had to rebuild the whole thing surrounded by 20-30ft waves. Luckily we were on a massive high - we knew we were in touching distance of the finish line and also were unbelievably determined not to touch the oars. Not a bad word was said all day. We gave Angus a ring (thanks mate) and worked out how to use the epoxy repair stuff effectively so that we could stick the bracket back on to the bottom of our hull. It had to be exact otherwise the whole thing would be off-kilter and creak to a hault after a few minutes. Anyway, we stuck the auto rudder on 260 degrees (Antigua) and we're travelling at about 2.5-3.5 knots with the wind without pedalling, and instead of pedalling we did two hours on two hours off of fixing! Not gonna lie - we smashed it. Not a bad word was said all day and by night fall we were pedalling again. The last few days for me personally went pretty slowly. It was quite painful and the thought of pina coladas in Antigua plus comfy bed was starting to really drive me a bit mad - I have to say the other three chaps on board got me through it. Cheers lads. We of course had no comms for last few days due to breakdown so we had none of your amazing messages either!
I know I speak for us all when I say that we genuinely genuinely couldn't of done it without you all and your wonderful support and encouragement. The question is, and always will be, with any expedition like ours - why? With us it's very simple, The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (and causes alike, but they are our wonderful chosen charity). In the two years that we have been doing this our families, friends and friends of friends have started talking about mental health openly. It has been a general topic of conversation around the dinner table and at the pub etc - and I can't tell you how satisfying that is. It means that PTP has essentially achieved its goal to get people talking about mental health. And we hope that after some of the publicity we have had we have managed to reach into other circles too. In fact, I know it has. We met a couple in Jacksons bar last night who saw us on "South Today" a month or so ago and have followed the campaign ever since and tracked us to the bar a week after we got in! Needless to say we had a few delicious shots of English Harbour Rum with them :).
It's been very special being in beautiful Antigua with all our nearest and dearest, we love this place - all the local people have been so supportive, welcoming and incredibly good fun! They've also been very understanding when the table of 25 in the corner gradually increases its decibel level. To everyone at home - we cannot wait to see you all and fill you in on more stuff as well as catch up on general goss from the last couple of months. Apologies if you haven't heard from me yet, my phone got eaten by the Atlantic a couple of weeks ago and Tals has been doing all my admin since I've been out here. I will be back from the dead soon and I'm very excited to catch up with you all.
Thank you thank you everyone for everything - let's continue the legacy and keep talkin'!
Pads and the Boys. X
PS - there is an epic pedalo for sale in Burnham on Crouch for anyone interested.