In the middle of the night I was in a dock at Staten Island, having a welcome from Sheila who, I now discovered, had been aboard Laurie’s motor yacht all the time. Before I got off Gipsy Moth, Laurie said that he had an important telegram. Standing on the dark dockside above me, shining a torch and with Alistair Cooke, the writer, beside him, he read out a most complimentary telegram. ‘I would like to extend my hearty congratulations to you on your successful new record-breaking crossing of the Atlantic Stop Your skill and gallantry as a sailor are already well known but this new achievement will certainly cap your career Stop And we are particularly pleased that you have arrived in the United States on July 4 the great historic day in United States history when we celebrate our independence = John F. Kennedy.’
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It always abashes me if someone important in the world uses his valuable time and thought to send me a message. In the morning, when I woke up, Laurie produced another exciting telegram, this time from Prince Philip, which read, ‘Delighted to see that you have achieved your ambition to beat your own record Stop All members of the Guild and millions of other admirers send their heartiest congratulations on a magnificent achievement = Philip.’
Later in the morning I was proceeding up East River under motor with Sheila and Laurie’s skipper on board, when the exhaust pipe finally blew my repairs into asbestos smoke. The cabin was smothered in it, as if from a volcanic eruption. The Statue of Liberty was abeam, and at that critical moment the Queen Elizabeth passed close on her way out of New York Harbour. She saluted Gipsy Moth with three blasts, and that was one of the great moments of a lifetime.
Although I had failed to beat my 30 day target by 3 days, 15 hours, 7 minutes, at least I had knocked nearly a week off my
1960 time – 6 days, 21 hours, 3 minutes, to be exact. (And if I had succeeded in making a thirty-day crossing, as I had hoped, I should have been deprived of the immense sport, anticipation, hope and excitement of trying again!)