There were still a days travel from where they found the space dolphins. Janeway went and talked to the people who introduced Ransom to the space dolphins and it took her a day.
Equinox hadn't yet let it rip with their dolphin powered engine.
It's possible they committed some other egregious war crime to get 30 years away from Caretaker in just 6 years, but Wormhole is just as good a possibility as any other...
Neelix said that he met a lot of people who Caretaker snatched for raping.
It seems like no one had ever been sent home.
And if Caretaker could use that transgalactic tractor beam like a weapon to fling Equinox off because it was attacking the array, they why did the Kazon assault prove to be such a threat that it interrupted his suicide?