After a long, hard month, the Rona II crew are returning home. For the past few days, the three watches have been cleaning and getting the boat ready for the delivery crew who will return her to the Hamble, and enjoying the hospitality of Le Havre.
Wednesday morning was spent cleaning the boat to try and make it look like it hadn’t just crossed the Atlantic, and like the crew hadn’t been painting the town red the night before. At lunchtime they were given shore leave and the chance to have a well-deserved shower, but due to Rona II’s early arrival in Le Havre, the showers weren’t open, so everyone onboard had to go to the swimming pool, purchase Speedos, and shower after a colder than anticipated swim. In the evening, the crew were invited to our fellow competitor yacht Peter von Danzig for a little get together, and everyone enjoyed being able to talk to the other crew about their Atlantic experience.
Thursday is traditionally the day of both the Captains’ Dinner and the Rona II boat party, so the morning and afternoon were spent making the boat look as good as possible for the “tight and bright” themed shindig, including setting up the black lights and the sound system. The early evening were spent appropriately preparing the crew, making them all tight, and extremely bright, with the application of vast quantities of luminous paint. Luckily, Watch Officer George Hopkins didn’t feel the need to break out his mankini again, despite it being luminous green.
The party was… everything that a Rona II boat party always is. Suffice it to say the crew and their guests had a great time. And that a seven-piece jazz band played on Rona II’s aft deck. And that they were followed by the crew of Portuguese square rigger “Sagres” looking to set up their samba band.
Friday, of course, was spent cleaning Rona II up again, primarily to get the glow in the dark lipstick and paint off the deck and sail covers. A chance trip to the sail locker indicated (by smell) that there was an overflow from Rona II’s black water tanks, which hold everything that goes down the heads in port, despite the tank gauge reading 96.28% (these tanks are measured electronically, whereas the obviously far less important fuel and drinking water tanks are measured with a highly imprecise dipstick…) Until they could be pumped out, the heads were declared off limits and the crew returned to using the swimming pool and the local Decathlon store as their go-to water closets. Still, by around 1 o’clock Rona II was deemed clean, and the crew could head off to the swimming pool to try and clean themselves – most particularly, to remove their luminous warpaint.
The crew were instructed to be back at Rona II mid afternoon, and ready for the crew parade and prizegiving. Lewis carefully marked everyone’s cheeks with an “R” and “2”, much to the skipper’s frustration – “It’s Rona II, not Rona 2!”. Many miscellaneous items were then grabbed, including pots and pans, a guitar, and a picture of someone who is definitely not the Queen, before joining the rest of the fleet’s crews at the parade start. Once the parade began, the afterguard called orders such as “dead ants” – the signal for the crew to lie on their backs and wiggle their arms and legs in the air, “Paparazzi”, where the crew leaped upon anyone with a large camera and posed inelegantly, and “Serenade” was the trigger for an unsuspecting member of the public (and in one case, an armed policeman) to be surrounded by 22 guys all singing Sinatra’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. One French gentlemen seemed a little unimpressed that his wife was chosen to be serenaded but everyone else seemed highly entertained.
Once the parade was over, the prizegiving began. At this point, we should congratulate everyone in the fleet for taking part, in perhaps in particular the skipper of “Blue Clipper”, who has been aboard for the entire event. Rona II came out of the ceremony with a hefty haul – three trophies, two shields, and a drone. The haul reflected our having come first in class, been fastest boat in the fleet across the Atlantic, won the overall event in class, and for having provided the most informative and entertaining media output during the race, primarily via these blogs. Once back to Rona II, the silverware was placed on the cockpit locker and the crew spent the next hour taking photos of themselves next to them.
The last evening of our summer was filled by the official crew party. We again won’t disclose anything other than to say that according to the afterguard, as crew parties go, this one was right up there.
Our final day started with the draining of Rona II’s black water tanks by an individual know to be forever known as “Mr Sucky”, as his job was to employ a transparent tube to remove all of our stored human waste and place it in his truck. We don’t know why the pipe had to be see-through; it certainly caused lots of gagging. The day finished with our coach ride back to the UK, via the exceptionally busy Dover / Calais ferry, and a corresponding late arrival.
It’s still too close to the event to give a coherent set of thoughts – I’m just about to get off the coach – but I know the crew wants to say thank you to everyone who made this campaign possible, from the afterguards, the campaign team, the race organisers, the host ports, and of course also, to say thank you to everyone who read these blogs. We hope you enjoyed them – this has truly been an experience of a lifetime for us.