Homeward Bound

July 12th, 2002 — Island of Saint Vincent

Simon & Garfunkel wrote the beautiful song Homeward Bound which played continuously in my head during the last week as crew on the Avontuur. It’s not that I was excited to leave this wholesome life of hard work on the seas, I was just excited to get back home after being away for months. My friend and crew mate Jayme took this picture of me the day after we outsailed a hurricane that hit the Grenadine islands pretty hard. We were sailing north from Suriname to Martha’s Vineyard to deliver another load of wood for a New England wooden boat builder (this was a regular delivery route for the Avontuur). The plan was to drop me off on the island of St. Vincent where I would say goodbye to the Avontuur and crew, and say hello to my best girl who was doing a Crossroads International term on the island assisting at medical clinics. Of course that girl was Jessica, now my wife.

We had no communication on the Avontuur, the last message Jessica received from me was from an internet café in Paramarabo many days earlier. Jessica was expecting me right in the middle of a much anticipated hurricane. The storm hit, and there was a lot of damage on the island. I never showed up. Captain Paul made the decision that we had to sail through the storm and keep on track to drop me off at a safer port where I would have to get a flight back to Canada. I wasn’t going to be able to see Jessica, and I couldn’t get a hold of her to tell her I was safe. Jessica, as I found out later, entertained the worst of scenarios.

Looking at this picture I can still feel the mixed feelings I was having that day; the adventure of a lifetime was coming to a close, we just got out of a major adrenaline-inducing storm, I was about to say goodbye to my crew and captain, and Jessica not only wasn’t going to see me, she had no way of knowing that I was okay. Three days after this picture Captain Paul dropped me off on the island of St. Maarten. I said goodbye and flew home to start a series of lifelong adventures. My time on the Avontuur, though extremely hard, physically and mentally, was probably the single most important time of transition in my life which has led me to be who I am today. Thanks Captain Paul, your legacy will continue to stay alive in my life as I “avontuur” around this amazing world we live in, much like you did!

Like what you read? Give Greg Hemmings a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.