SV Accomplice Blog week 9 24/11/19 to 1/12/19

Thu 5 Dec 2019 13:30
SV Accomplice Blog week 9 24/11/19 to 1/12/19

The start date finally arrived on Sunday 24th following several weeks of build up in Las Palmas.

Just under 200 sailing yachts have been moored within the marina all being prepared by their skippers and crews for the trans Atlantic sail to St Lucia in the Caribbean, a passage of some 2900 miles or up to 3 weeks at sea. The pontoons have witnessed a hive of activity, equipment inspected, unpacked and repacked, pieces of wood and metal cut and trimmed and refitted. Barrow loads of boxed food and drinks wheeled down the pontoons by hasty delivery drivers, expectant crews at the ready to unpack and stow creatively in every orifice on the boats. Some hanging their fruits and vegetables in nets strung outside across the backs of their boats making them resemble supermarket trolleys.

In between getting the boats ready a programme was laid on of daily seminars covering subjects such as Astro Navigation, passage weather, boat provisioning etc which all crews were invited. A very entertaining seminar entitled ‘From frying pans to satellites’ was given by a chap from Ventnor who explained how to navigate oceans when electronics fail.

Every evening sundowner drinks parties were held with free drink and nibbles, local bands and food. Great evenings were had socialising with other crews.

I must say the ARC organisers build up to crossing the Atlantic has been great and enhanced the whole experience.

By Thursday before the off the whole crew Matthew, Janet, Robert and Janice had gathered on board Accomplice and settled in and reacquainted themselves with one another. The main jobs being final boat tweaks and shopping for food and drink.

Start day arrived and after securing the dinghy to the davits, good byes to family, the mooring lines were slipped and we joined the possession of yachts leaving the marina to much fanfare and hooting.

We patiently waited for our groups start time and with the loud bang of the start maroon going up we headed for the offshore start line sailing pass close to the Spanish navel ship used as the race committee boat. We had an inauspicious start, failing to get our timing right and starting at the back of the fleet. We must work on our race start technique!

The sun was out and we had lightish strength winds.

To get the best speed out of the boat, before the start I had managed to secure some divers to clean off growth off the bottom of the boat. This they did for a greater or lesser extent. Their fee was on the high side but considering the now poor water quality in the marina it was probably justified. When I later heard that Janice had done number twos and flushed it over board while the three divers were under the boat I thought that the money was actually well earnt!!

The first night at sea was uncomfortable in the acceleration zone to the south of the island. The acceleration zones are areas of stronger winds out to sea due to the wind being squeezed around the mountains on the islands.

The crew did well getting into the rock and roll motion, well Janet didn’t really....she once again threw up over the side and down the deck and over the galley windows and oh yes in the gas locker!

The first few days have been very slow with winds as low as 5 knots however we were determined to keep sailing which we did, unlike others who fired up their engines and motored in search of stronger winds.

The wind finally filled out in, 20 to 25 knots, and we got into our stride with Accomplices twin forestay rig coming into its own. Being able to sail dead downwind in complete control and able to change sail area to suit the wind strength. We continue now to keep powered up during the night which enables us to start to catch the fleet up and move through it. The traditional ocean long swell is shy at the moment in stead we have short swells from various angles causing a restless sea and causing Accomplice to roll mercilessly roll from side to side as she slews down the face of waves. We have acclimatised ourselves to the conditions, moving around the boat in a slow and safe manner.

We have had success with our bread making, and amazingly Janet’s just nosed ahead of Matthews in terms of lightness.....a truly incredible feat given that Janet’s was crash bang whollop and in the oven!

We have been accompanied at times with dolphins, on one occasion a pod of more than a hundred played with us for an hour on end.

We are having a good laugh and last night even Robert joined in singing along with Englebert Humperdinck!

Our first injury has been sustained.....Robert hurt his back ......picking something off the floor. Something so mundane caused him to be confined to his bunk for 3 days in extreme pain. Luckily our on board nurse Janet put on her tight play nurses uniform and administered pain relieving pills. Roberts next dilemma was seeking assistance in helping him pass a week load of stools. Janet gloved herself up and reached for the suppository and awaited a nod to proceed but Robert, on seeing Janet’s relish to get to work, declined medical attention and preferred nature to take its course.

Our on board fisherman, Matthew, was set the task of providing daily fresh fish for the crew. The first few days saw nothing take his lines, however thereafter fish were caught daily, lovely Dorado. We had it baked, curried, pan fried and finally in a pizza. Totally lovely.......then we lost lure after lure to large predator fish, biting clean through stainless wire. Fish is now off the menu!

As I write this I sit in the cockpit of Accomplice, feet stretched across onto the bench opposite, the wind is blowing 17 to 22 knots, we bowl along at 7 to 8 knots, up to 10 knots sliding down the larger swell, rocking continuously from side to side with occasional knocks off course by rogue cross swell. The sky is clear with a half moon ahead reflecting off the seas surface, the stars bright and small dark patches of cloud following up from astern. The water crashes and splashes around the boat, breaking wave crests swishing and snorting as they run pass the boat, no other noise than water, nothing but water. No lights of any other human existence only star and moon light.

I do have another yacht on my screen about 10 miles ahead who we are reeling in gradually, by dawn we should be up with him and past during the day...oh yes, another one bagged!

Accomplice is performing well with all systems working as planned. Only niggle is that I have to bail out the engine room bilge each time the generator is run as there is a tiny inlet water leak. On the jobs list in St Lucia.

Andrew, Matthew, Janet, Robert and Janice
Atlantic Ocean 4.12.19