It Was Time

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The last thing we wanted was to decide our plans for the next year. After a family-of-four morning scuba dive – no mean feat to organise and actually do. Now a homemade bread and salad lunch.

But it was also our scheduled spot to decide. Birthdays were over and half-term holidays were about to begin. It was time.

It was even more mundane than that. The decision we’ve been turning over for so long would – in the end – need to be made for planning the following week. Short- term logistics.

If we were to head home, we’d have to spend the next week provisioning. If we did make it into closed Welsh waters, we’d probably need to quarantine aboard. Literally months worth needed – of pasta, rice and onions. Milk coming out of our eyeballs.

If however, we were to stay in the Caribbean for another season, well there’d be revision to do instead. End-of-year exams are set to take place in a couple of weeks. Seven day half-term holiday: seven subjects.

And it really was a beautiful afternoon. The sea was clear below us. Cotton candy clouds above. Quest bobbing in between. The breeze was blowing over our lunch. We stared at each other uncomfortably. Guess who started arguing for the trip home? I’m still wincing.

Not surprising though. We asked our older teenager how going home would justify the risky journey. For we’d decided that this would be our measure: the reasons for going would need to be greater than the risks of getting there.

This is because the Azores is still closed, except for the shortest transit time. This means a very long and tiring shorthanded sail. And the most difficult question for us is what happens if we have to leave the Azores for the UK with inclement weather approaching?

Over the weekend too, a story was haunting us. A yacht Jack had been tracking had recently left the Azores via the Caribbean. It got caught in a huge storm. The boat had been dismasted approximately 500 miles off Finisterre. A rescue operation was underway.

Gulp. We followed the news. A skilful operation by a tanker saved the solo yachtsman in the end. The boat was abandoned. The yachtsman – on his way to the UK – is now on a tanker heading for America. No matter – surely he’s just grateful to be alive. I’m not saying this sailor was pushed out of the Azores either. I’m not saying that at all. It made the decision clear for us anyhow.

We have to put safety first. The need to go home has to outweigh these current extra sailing challenges. And right now it doesn’t.

The teenager was sad in the end, it’s true. Disappointed. Moody. Even furious for a while. But she is safe. So. Job done for now. And the sunset was stunning.

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