Start day

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 20 Nov 2011 08:58
After two days of frenetic activity here we are on the day of the start.  We have been loaded enough "planned" food for three weeks and then we have enough dried/tinned food to last for a couple of months if necessary. 
Bertie spent about four hours yesterday sitting at the top of the mast installing the new wind instruments.  There was a problem removing the old bracket, which will require the bolts to be drilled out (not something you can do easily 70 feet up) so our new bracket is held on with many cable ties.  It looks pretty secure and Bertie reckons it is good for at least a few months, so we can now stop using the wet finger and revert to our rather more accurate wind speed and direction display.  (Currently about 10 knots from the north, which will be ideal for the start).
We have had our "Yellow Brick" device installed which means that we will be appearing on the ARC position website ( as well as our own blog site.
My finger is getting much better.  I will not be able to use it properly for three weeks, because of the bone fracture, but the seam is starting to heal, there are no signs of infection and surprisingly little pain.  We will be taking the classic "south until the butter melts then turn right" route, which takes us quite close to the Cape Verde islands, so we can take a checkpoint in a couple of days time and make a final go/no go decision  for the Atlantic crossing.  Once downwind of Cape Verde there is no turning back.
At the skippers briefing yesterday we were given our instructions for the start.  The organisers have decided to start the catamarans separately at 12:30, together with the Open class yachts, followed at 12:45 by the Racing division and then at 13:00 by the monohull cruisers.  It does mean that we avoid some of the melee, although I suspect there will still be a lot of monohulls to dodge at the start.  The "committee boat" is a Spanish warship, which will show the start flags and then fire a maroon for each start.  My plan is to approach the start with just a jib and unfurl the spinnaker (symmetric or asymmetric depending on wind direction) when we are in clear water.  It should be exciting.