Saturday, September 05, 2009

Inspirational voyage

It's an immense ocean world out there and there are always some brave adventurers doing their adventures out there with their stories and encounters may or may not be becoming world wide news. In the BBC News Channel today there's just an inspiring adventure story just came to my attention. It was told in detail a couple of weeks ago in a recent article by Iliana Stillitano entitled "Inspirational voyage" in Camden Advertiser of Australia as:
ADVENTURER Andy Goss knows what it's like to rise to a challenge.

He did just that when his brother Pete suggested they sail almost 12,000 miles from England to Australia on a five-month journey to re-create an epic 1854 voyage.

Pete was engrossed by the story of seven Cornish fishermen who wanted to try their luck in the Australian gold rush. They took 116 days to sail from Cornwall to Melbourne in a 37-foot lugger, Mystery.

In awe of their bravery, Pete decided on a re-enactment.

The Goss brothers set sail in a replica boat, Spirit of Mystery, last November with Pete's son Eliot, 14, and crewmate Mark Maidment who broke his leg a week before the end of the journey and had to be rescued.

They were reunited when Spirit of Mystery arrived in Williamstown, Melbourne, in March to be welcomed by a flotilla of small boats and hundreds of onlookers.

Here's a commemoration of the occassion:

And here's the Spirit of Mystery in action:

For my particular interest, I visited the great Weblog of Pete Goss to learn about their encounter with the freaque wave. I was thrilled to read these and more:
. . . we have had a baseline wind of 40knts with prolonged gusts of over 50knts for two and a half days.

I put the washing up liquid by the hatch, reach out and clip on before leaving the safety of below, glance up and there it is. A huge wall of water that towers over the boat and there is nothing breaking about it. Its solid, dark green, dangerous and a freak; 'HOLD ON' I am aware of Mark bracing himself as I duck my head and tense. The noise is as shocking as the blow, I am aware of it going very dark and I am disorientated. I am under water and can't breathe, there is a huge weight pushing me down and the rush of solid water through the hatch has my legs straining in resistance. It feels like I am trying to push the wrong way up a storm drain in full flood and that is what I am trying to do for I know that this is going to leave us badly damaged and I am fighting to get to Mark who is my first concern. My chest is protesting, I need to breath, how much longer is this going to go on for. Come on Spirit this is it, this is the moment of truth, you can only swallow so much before the physics that have sustained us don't add up.

Suddenly I can see again and burst through a tangle of wreckage and foam to see Mark lying on the helm bench with his safety harness wrapped round the tiller which is jerking him about violently. His arms are out either side as if he is crucified and his face has that awful waxy look that I have only seen a couple of times and it triggers a tingle of dread down my spine. I am sure he is unconscious but keep shouting 'MARK MARK' as I wrestle free, of what I don't know for my focus is on Mark and Mark alone. I am on my knees now and close to his face and as I scan his body he says 'My legs broken, went like a twig'. Looking down his right foot lies on the deck despite his leg being upright and there is a thirty degree bend to the side half way between his knee and ankle. The shocking reality of it leaches in with a cold dread as I ask him if there is anything else and glance about the boat. Mark is vital but he is part of a bigger picture that he needs to be fitted into if we are to manage our way out of this in one peice. Mast's are still up, I look aft at the tiller and as my depth of field gets wider I am aware of a lot of wreckage in the sea with the life raft mushrooming in a profusion of garish colour. The knockdown was like a car crash in its brutality and its concentration has compressed time to the point that the brain just can't record it all and one is left with short disjointed clips. Andy was in his bunk to windward and has a vivid picture of hanging from a side stowage bar and fending himself off the deck head (roof). The next clip is a glance aft and down to see high pressure jets of water spraying from the porthole seals. He drops across the boat astride of Eliot who has a distinct memory of seeing the cabin lit by blue light. That rich deep blue that comes with depth when diving. They have a better sense of the motion than I do and Andy is sure that there was a secondary less aggressive but more powerful blow which is the one that really pushes her over and down bringing darkness with it. He remembers thinking come on Spirit, come on and then hears my shout from above.

The word broken stands out and he thinks the masts and portholes have gone as he clambers across what can only be described as carnage gone mad and digs about for his life jacket. Shit, shit, shit my mind is processing at a fantastic rate as I run though a well rehearsed check list as it compiles a set of priorities. How far are we from help for Mark, Spirit of Mystery has righted herself and started to doggedly set sail and with a rush of warmth I suddenly realise how much I love her and smile. Her motion settles the tugging of the tiller; I untangle Marks harness and give the helm a bloody good wiggle and its positive, good girl, that'll do me for now. I am talking to Mark all the time as more information permeates my consciousness; Andy is coming up and looks fine. The life raft has been ripped away as has the dinghy and man overboard equipment. The fact that the big oak dinghy chocks have simply been torn in half is sobering and I wonder if there is going to be any structural damage. Behind Andy's shoulder I can see that the cabin is a train wreck and that Eliot is going hammer and tongs on the bilge pump. He looks worried but glances up and we catch each other's eye and he grins, 'you OK Dad' good lad. . . .
Pete Goss has already published a book, should be of interest and inspirational:

No comments: