"Thank you," I managed, in the understatement of the century. We hung around for a while until I got warm and dry. Then, neither of us wanting to see Gartmore's final minutes, we left the scene. The flashing light on the SART up in Gartmore's rigging was barely swinging despite the heavy swell, a sure sign that she was settling right down. I gazed aft until it was out of view, her loss beginning to come home to me now that my frantic efforts to keep her afloat had ended.
Alan has been the perfect tonic the past few days as we head for Capetown, though I am sure I have messed up his routine on board. There is no doubt in my mind that the satellite communications, the excellent pumping ability I had and the safety gear and clothing I had on board, coupled with Alan's skillful navigation and boat handling, saved my life. It is probably good for me to spend a little time at sea now to get my head straight, but at the same time I am looking forward immensely to stepping onto terra firma.
The speed of the communications was truly wonderful and should be a comfort to the other racers. Perhaps not as comforting is the thought of what I hit. I do not know what it was, but by holing Gartmore in such a structurally strong area, I feel we hit the edge of something immovable. The chances of the collision are probably billions to one, but it happened, and I am now very grateful for being here. Alan and I were already chatting to each other daily on the radio, and with very similar projects and similar boat speeds, we were having a real tussle on the racetrack. We both talk too much as well, so although we are getting on really well, we both have sore throats after a month of limited vocal-cord use. It is strange to be with someone else after more than 30 days alone, but we are both enjoying having someone else to make coffee and do dishes, that's for sure.
From Alan Nebauer
I think Josh has covered most of the details. When I first got a message to urgently contact race control, I thought that perhaps something had happened at home. However, when I got through to HQ and heard for the first time that Josh was in trouble and that I was the nearest boat, I immediately plotted Gartmore's position, which was accurate to the minute thanks to the latest Trimble navigation and COMSAT communications equipment.
I laid a course to Josh, who was at that time 84 miles away from Newcastle Australia. Josh and I were soon speaking on the 4 MHz radio frequency, and we agreed that we should speak and update positions half hourly. Josh informed me that he was losing Gartmore, and all I could do was offer some encouragement and proceed as fast as I could to the scene.
I had met Josh only once in the hectic time before the start of the race, but we had been enjoying the camaraderie of common goals and experiences during our daily chats on the radio over the last 30-odd days at sea. So as I hardened sheets and headed toward Josh, it was with a real empathy for him. I know the years of hard work it took to put his campaign together. We both enjoy the support of our fantastic wives and have young children. I think I knew pretty much how Josh would be feeling.
I tried to be lighthearted on our radio contacts (Aussie humor in a crisis, probably not the best remedy). I must admit there was no humor when Josh, busy working to keep Gartmore afloat, lost track of time and left me waiting for an hour and a half by the radio with no response to my repeated calls.
My job was a lot easier than Josh's. I could only go as fast as I could and continually plot our relative positions. Being a Christian, I was able to pray and was confident that I would reach Josh in time. It was a fantastic moment to see Gartmore's navigational lights break the horizon and have the SART signal confirm his location 10 miles ahead on the radar screen. As I sailed up to Gartmore, I thanked God for the full moon and that the wind and seas had abated enough to make the transfer a lot easier.
It was horrible to see Gartmore in such an unnatural position, down by the head and sitting very heavy and low in the water. It must have been terrifying to be on her for so long. It's a credit to Josh that he kept her alive without any hint of panic. I was proud of my "pommy mate."