To embark on a voyage such as I did involved living with seven strangers for several weeks. The only person I “knew” was the captain, Richard Oswald, and our relationship was based on a few phone calls over 10 months. So it was a leap of faith that I joined the crew aboard the Coral of Cowes on April 23, 2015, for me and for them.
There were four that were the permanent crew of Coral and they had sailed since at least January together, many longer than that. Oswald had taken on Dexter Telesford from Grenada early on when the captain had just bought the boat four years ago and sailed it to Grenada for some repair work. It was there he met Dexter and signed him on as permanent crew. Dexter told me he loves Coral and that was evident to me at our days at sea. These days he serves as boson and knows the old schooner well. Then there is Charlie Couture, a young man in his twenties who has worked aboard Coral for several times in the past four years. The captain has known him since he was a small boy. Charlie later attended a private school on the Spanish island of Ibiza where Oswald taught for a time. Charlie is also a burgeoning shipwright, skills that we would need desperately later in the voyage. Lastly, there was Henry Morgan, late teens who joined the boat in January in the Caribbean. Yes, he’s related to that Henry Morgan—famed British pirate, buccaneer, conqueror of Panama and later the governor of Jamaica.
The rest of us are guest crew. Claire and Paul Briggs hail from the British Isle of Guernsey. Both are experienced sailors. Paul was quick to point out that Guernsey is not part of the United Kingdom. I liked the “Key West -Conch Republic” anarchistic spirit that Paul claims. Both he and Claire were great mates. And there was Chris Morphy, accomplished jeweler in gold and silver, entrepreneur and seeking knowledge of classic boats. For all of us that were not permanent crew, plus Henry Morgan, this was our first trans Atlantic. Charlie and Dexter had all crossed before. For the skipper, this would be his fifthteenth crossing. “You will be a different person by the time we reach Horta,” claimed Oswald. I was willing to experience the transformation to come.