Sir Robin Knox Johnston 50th celebration sail

When Guy rang me to say we had been invited as friends of Robins to sail Sanjula to Falmouth, did I want to go, well I could barely get the words out. What a privilege to sail over from Gosport to Falmouth, take part in all the celebrations and sail back.

Here is a summary of our trip:

18th April 2019

On reaching Gosport I quickly collected Guys onshore kit from the apartment and rushed down to the boat. After loading all our kit onto a Sanjula I set about deep cleaning the galley, freshing everything up and stowing our supplies on board. She’s a lovely boat, plenty of room and very comfortable.

Ben left Jeromino and I to finish off, we decided it was gin and tonic time. In between drinks we finished the prep.

Guy came into port from training at about 9pm, was lovely to see him. I helped his crew pack away the code 1 and they fed me a delicious spicy curry. We went to the Castle for a few drinks before turning in on our respective boats.

19th April

Having decided that I would sleep on board instead of going back to the apartment was a good decision, I had a great nights sleep on board. Then pinching myself again that I was waking up on Sir RKJ boat I had a leisurely breakfast.

Guy came off his boat to see if I was awake, then he had to go back to work.

The rest of our crew came onboard. Ben, who is the Clipper Race Training Manager and his partner Jilly who works for Clipper. Dale, our Clipper deputy race director. Jeriomino, who is also a race skipper in the next race with Guy and his wife Louise.

We slipped lines at 10.30am and motored into the Solent. This followed by a lovely day of sunbathing, getting to know each other, afternoon naps and a tipple or two to celebrate our wee holiday. Weather conditions are brilliant, we are cruising along at 8knts. Truly living the dream with wonderful people.

During the night we will do a 3 hour watch system. I’m teamed up with Dale, we chatted about the Golden Globe and generally about life. Dale was a skipper on Dare to Lead on my race and now promoted to Deputy Race Director. Himself and his lovely wife Natalie are from South Africa.

This is an amazing experience, so privileged. And what lovely people to spend time with. We have just seen some dolphins, life is good.

20th April

We arrived earlier than expected into Pendulis Marina in Falmouth. It’s a glorious day. After a shower we watched and assisted others coming in. Sir RKJ on Suhalli arrived to a fan of well wishes.

Afternoon was spent chilling, drinks and lunch. Guy rang to say he was on the train, ready for a 6 hour journey. I went and walked around the town. Very quaint and of course I had to visit the Fish and Chip of the Year 2019 winners, Harbour Lights.

Tonight we have a meal with Robin and friends. Guy arrived just in time to join us, great to have him back.

21st April

Robin popped onto Sanjula first thing, reminding us to put up the flags. We had a leisurely day exploring and catching up with friends. It was another glorious hot day so shorts and t shirts were purchased in town. It is hard to believe how cold we were last weekend.

Guy and I ate out for lunch at a lovely restaurant serving fresh scallops and mussels, and a time to catch up. We treasure our time together with this new lifestyle, not a bad thing. We also remind ourselves how lucky we are.

Sir Robin unveiled his bronze footprints at the North Quay marina, to mark his first steps back to land after 312 days at sea 50years ago. We were spotted attending by Heather as the photos were published to mark the occasion.

The evening event consisted of a ferry put on for us to take all of Robins guests over to St Mawes sailing club. Robin took Suhaili. It was a lovely evening, with speeches, choir, drinks flowing and great company.

22nd April

We went along to Falmouth museum to a talk and discussion with Sir Robin and Mike Golding. It was informative, inspirational, interesting and funny. No matter how many times I hear some of his encounters on his trip I love hearing them over and over again.

It was then time to finish getting ready for the big flotilla. 100 boats to go out into Falmouth bay. And Robin and Suhaili to re cross the finish line they did 50 years ago at exactly 1525 hrs. We had 20 guests on board Sanjula, made up of Robins family. It was a momentous afternoon and I was so proud to be part of it.

A quick shower and change for our final event at The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club. Again the drinks were flowing, some more speeches and a wonderful hot and cold buffet was put on.

23rd April

I don’t want this trip to end, life on board is great and the company wonderful. We had a leisurely start to the day. Some were nursing hangovers and making the most of their last lie in. Guy and I were of course up, along with Dale, Natalie and their three children. They were driving home, and Louise had left on an early train. That left 5 of us to take a Sanjula home.

We prepped the boat, Guy and I moved into the aft cabin which comprises of a huge space with en suite and double bed. Not sure I want to go back to staying on a racing boat after this. Ourselves, Robin, the 2 Clipper boats and Mark Light all slipped lines together.

We got into a watch system of 2 hours on and 3 hours off.

It was drizzling as we moored up in Gosport and we were all feeling quite tired.

However we cracked on with a deep clean and quick turn around to get back to work, followed by a chicken roast dinner and early night.

Thank you so much to everyone who made this incredible trip possible. And the biggest thank you to Sir Robin, not only for his very kind invitation to take Sanjula, but for being such an inspiration. A sailing legend who changed my life.

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