Tuesday 11th August
Saturday 9th August will remain with me for the rest of my days. You canít imagine what a fantastic thrill it is to be escorted into harbour by so many boats, horns blaring, then the six-gun salute and being greeted by hundreds - yes, hundreds - of people on the quayside. It was enough to bring a tear to the eye of any hardened mariner or cynical journalist. And that was the point when I hugged Alan and thanked him for the biggest roller-coaster ride of my life - all four years of it.
There certainly couldnít be a more dramatic end to it than having the Portsmouth Field Gun Crew manhandling the boat attached to a limber in incredible heat for just over a mile along the sea front to the Jolly Sailor pub in Southsea, arriving to the loud and stirring sounds of "Hearts of Oak". Not quite the Relief of Ladysmith, but believe me, it was tingles up the spine stuff, and there were well-deserved pints all round when it was over.
It was fitting, too, that it should end here. It all started in Portsmouth in 1999 with the boatís naming ceremony, followed by the first world record attempt at the British Isles circumnavigation in July. Itís been an unbelievable four years - the move to Cardiff, and then the first world records. Hard too, to imagine that I, someone with virtually no boating experience, should end up in the crew of what will probably go down in history as the most successful offshore powerboat ever. If you havenít already read it (he said, going into commercial plug mode), the story up to last yearís dramatic events is told in "Confronting Poseidon", available from www.spirit-of-cardiff.com/shop.
To all those who have supported us, both corporate and private, you have our humble thanks. We couldnít have done it without you, and although in the end the whole project went through on a shoestring, along with a great deal of personal financial adversity on our parts, everyoneís contribution was greatly appreciated and well-spent.
Iím reminded of a quote from each of the Kennedy brothers. For those companies in Cardiff who promised to support us after enticing us there, and then who cut us adrift, perhaps John F. Kennedyís "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" might be appropriate. And as far as the whole enterprise was concerned, how about Robert Kennedyís "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly"? We dared, and we certainly achieved.
So what now? Well, even though itís already over a week since finishing the tough bit, there are still a few aches and pains, and I occasionally get the odd wobbly moment catch me out when I least expect it. Thereís a lot of following up to do - including writing a few magazine features, TV documentary, etc. Then after that, I guess itís back to normal.
Whatever that is . . .
© 2003 Clive Tully
Update transmitted by Stratos Iridium satellite phone.
The Portsmouth Field Gun Crew tow the Jolly Sailor away from the Camber, heading for Southsea: