A Sailor's Homecoming

The crew is disbanding after 15 days of cruising the caribbean and a warm welcome home is in store.

Sailor's Welcome home

Mark Pillsbury

Sunday, December 5

Day 17,

Our rude awakening came at 4:45 am Saturday morning, courtesy of the alarm on my cell phone. At that moment, what had been all about wind, waves, and waypoints for the better part of 15 days, was about to turn complicated with security checks, flight schedules, arranging a ride home from the airport, emails, the work week ahead, and all the other details life ashore throws in your face.

We'd packed our bags the night before, so we only needed to throw them into the inflatable and haul them ashore to be set to go. We planned to make two trips in an attempt to keep the gear and crew dry, and it would have worked, too, had I not worn my shoes when I stepped into the dinghy and stood ankle deep in bilge water. I'd regret that move 12 hours later, sitting on an airplane, when they were still damp and had that special odor boat shoes can develop with age and seawater.

Ulf and Philip had decided to rent a car on Saturday and tour the island, so they came ashore with us and drove Bob, Peter and I to the airport in St. John's. Ulf planned to remain on Tioga another week, and Philip would not leave until the New Year, so they had adventures aplenty ahead of them. For the rest of us, a well-earned homecoming beckoned.

It was still quite dark when we left Falmouth Harbour, but lights were on in many of the houses along our route. From the boat and in the car, you could hear the occasional rooster crow, and the smell the scent of burning wood or maybe sugar cane was in the air.

Our first flight got us to San Juan by 10:30, where we had a four-hour wait until the next flight, to Boston. I'd wager that 240 minutes worth of Feliz Navidad played on steel drums is about all the human spirit can endure, or my spirit at least. Never was a departure flight more welcome than American's carol-free 1334. That said, the pilot'-s report of beautiful weather in Boston, with temperatures hovering near 40 had an ominous ring to it.

Peter's wife, Linda, and their daughter Lillianna met us at the airport, and boy it was good to see them. They, though, might have wished we'd perhaps bathed more recently when Bob asked them to roll up the windows. The best part of our home coming after the delicious dinner the girls pulled together, was the sign Lillianna made and hung on the bulletin board at the end of the causeway.

'Welcome Home Sailors!" it said.

And that, my friend, closed the final chapter in this part of the story Tioga's winter adventure to the Caribbean. The boat will stay in Falmouth, on a mooring, once the holidays are over and Philip and his family flies home. Hopefully she'll see some use over the winter, and then Philip and a new crew will return in April to start the trek north. The real homecoming, of course, will be next spring, when Tioga is tied, once again, on her mooring, right here in Nahant. This post is made possible by Iridium and Global Marine Networks.

To read the rest of Mark's trip blog click here