Thursday was ascendant. Finally, the 10th of May 2018 was upon us, the boat was in Bristol and whatever happened we could depart on time to our arranged send off. I didn’t feel good. I’d continued to try and get things resolved and failed, whilst nearly all of the things I’d wanted to get done on board had not occurred. We were going to sea in a boat that whilst sea worthy, didn’t feel ready. In a bizarre series of events the high-tech depth unit on board had failed, been sent off and come back to fail again. I then fitted five separate working depth units and these had all failed as well. It seemed whatever was required, no matter how new, failed. I fitted a new budget unit, the sixth unit onboard and this worked until I had entered the Avon, just as it was needed most. I came into Bristol like the Celtic saints, by feel, best judgement and completely unaware of the actual depth under my keel. Much of the initial weeks were to compound this sense of complete vulnerability, mostly I was running on empty and the only thing I had left was God, who didn’t seem to be doing much to help. Knowing God is there though is both a pain and a blessing. It is a pain because we don’t know if he will step in and if he does, will he do what we expect? At the same time. even if like Job, we see him (or her) as an unrelenting tyrant, it does mean we can shake our fist in whatever direction and say ‘God, bloody well step in here and fix this crap’ with a hale and hearty ‘Amen’ to finish the prayer!
The service at Holy Trinity was completely up lifting and affirming. If you are reading this, I wish you could have been there. You could be a societal Christian like the atheist Richard Dawkins and still have enjoyed it. It had exactly the right balance of faith, liturgy, insight and fact. It was also well attended with a few hundred folk at a guess, several from Malmesbury Abbey as well as many crew due to join us in the weeks ahead. It was also a team effort as I had written it initially and then Howard had taken it and tuned it. The sermon was by a Trinity college student, Matt, who hit the adventure on the button with exactly the right amount of earthiness and humour. It was an honour to be there and deeply moving. As planned we processed to the boat for an official send off, with crew leaping onboard, being met for the first time. We went to motor off and the morse throttle control snapped! This meant that we had to motor off with no ability to alter our throttle nor in reality, easily stop. Matt Thomson, a vicar and a sailor I had met about two minutes prior took the wheel as I frantically went below and duly rigged a repair using cable ties. With only our friend Charly, my wife and our crew aware of this, we were congratulated by the watching crowd as we made a complete circle, the auditoriums encore and bow, before we limped into Cumberland basin, the lock and then towards Portishead praying we could find a repair. The part that broke had been fitted new less than a week earlier