Guest Blog from Paul – after 30 days at sea with the Craven Family


Jani and I joined Aretha in Cape Town just over two weeks ago. Its been a fabulous experience. Jani and I were also crew on Aretha in the crossing  over the North Atlantic over 12 months ago. Caspar writes some excellent blogs, so it will be difficult to compete and make an interesting missive. However he has asked me to outline the differences in the Craven family that I have noticed between the North Atlantic crossing in the ARC over a year ago and  this leg from Cape Town to Salvador in Brazil. So: here goes:-

It is fasinating to compare my first passage on Aretha from Gran Canaria to St Lucia and the change in the Craven family having now circulated through 360 degrees of longitude around the world. The major change in the whole family is how comfortable they are with boat life; after 24 hours of leaving port they slip into a routine which  has become second nature to them. Of course the children have tantrums and sulks from time to time and this to me is no different to my six grandchildren when they were of a similar age. But the upsets are much less than than when we did the ARC more than 12 months ago. Back then there was frequent reference to their friends back in Weybridge now there is more talk of the friends they have met on their voyage around the planet.

Bluebell, 12 months ago would often confine herself her cabin and be introverted for days on the north Atlantic voyage, now she is confident, relaxed and comfortable with her surroundings. She will volunteer and make a delicious lunch and present it on the saloon table as though we were in a restaurant and not on a yacht at sea rocking and rolling along. She is interested in learning, is compiling a very readable journal and picks a topic for writing and improving her knowledge, like her current China project and is very focused, all without being forced by her parents to do it.

Columbus, still has his fights against authority, but these are over much quicker following a stern talk from his father. He is intelligent and now has a knowledge of the sea, sailing, geography, animals and marine life far above his age.

Willow is and was on my first sea encounter just a real sweetie. She has changed the least. Is happy, once to be involved and cries when she does not get her way. Well any three year old child would.

What about the parents? I have known Caspar for over 15 years and he is still the likeable, energetic, enthusiastic person I have always known. His knowledge of generators, navigation equipment, everything you need to be competent about saiing a yacht around the world has improved enormously and would now have a great deal to contribute to any one else who wanted to embark on an ambitious project like this to experience an adventure of a life time. He manages the yacht by getting his crew involved and does not hesitate to ask advice from others. There is a skippers briefing every morning, a strong accent on safety,  there are many tasks to perform to keep the yacht sailing efficiently, but all done with plenty of humour.

Nichola, the other half of the sailing partnership has indeed changed. Always a good mother,  organiser and administrator she is now also a competent yachtswoman and is at home with all aspects of Aretha; its performance, maintenance and general running. If you want to know where anything is stowed, you go to Nichola and not Caspar. In spite of sea sickness during the first couple of days of any passage she is always calm, even when the S hits the fan as is inevitable when you sail with three children on a sailing yacht living in confined quarters.  All issues are talked through between the partnership and an action plan agreed.

Jani and I look forward to the next 7-10 days sailing before we arrive for carnival time in Salvador de Bahia.

Paul Covell

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