Wild night and ARC Helicopters

Wed 1 Dec 2021 10:58
14:33N 50:35W at 1050GMT wpt 604 nm.

Wildish weather overnight - the squalls seem more frequent this side of the Atlantic. Another boat with no AIS was hiding in amongst some rain clouds on radar, and as I got closer the boat started to move over. So I kinda had to stay up and watch him. I called him up, and his boat name was um Delice d'Angouleme (?) or some mad name, anyway, how about you stay on 270degrees hm, and not keep moving over? Oh he has me on AIS (receive only tho) and the closest point is 1.5 miles he says, and he will be looking out. Oh ok, i get 20mins sleep and then he's right up close, jeez. But he does not want to bear awaym he says. Well okay let's have a crash instead hm? Oh and thanks for saving a few quid and having AIS receive-only, meaning you can see me on AIS but I can't see you. I can't see him on radar beyond 3 miles, whatever. I dunno if AIS is a must-have for the ARC but i think it oughta be a priority.

Next up is the Squall of Valkyries, and 16-18 knots of wind doubles to 36 knots within just a couple of minutes. I can adjust the sail (let it fly higher) without much leaving the cockpit area which is kinda important I think, howling wind and try hopping around the foredeck, best not. The boat gets dragged along shopping-trolley style at speeds varying from about under 1/3 to max 1/2 of total wind speed. I don't think I can go faster than half the wind speed with bag-type sail, can I? I saw surfs of 18knots while total wind was 32knots, numerous surfs to 16knots, but generally 10-15 knots for the 30-45 minute squall gig. Anyway, I'm kinda betting those people trying to sell Bill a 300sqm sail haven't been out in 35+ knots of wind with the thing, yeehah! And it must be just huge with giant sock and so on - this 188 isn't a small item. I wouldn't want to fly more than this 24/7 andf that's the idea - that it doesn't need to be lifted and lowered like a solid spinnaker - it can fly most if not all of the way there, trade winds permitting.

The Boeuf Bourguignon was so fab that I'm making it again - and it handily uses up borderline onions and too many steaks. I've only got half a bottle of red wine so I've substituted a bit more rubbishy brandy.

Otherwise I'm going through lockers and sorting stuff, very VERY busy.

Oh yes, the ARC Helicopters. Back in Las Palmas, the ARC Helicopters gag involved me (anonymously) whinging on the morning daily VHF "net" for ARC participants on ch 77 about the "ARC helicopter demonstration" in the previous week... when rescue helicopters only have a range of 250miles so bit misleading hm? The youthful-sounding ARC staffer/moderator said er so what's the question? Then instead of me answering, a friend bounced in with a prepared (by me) script announcing themselves as "ARC Helicopter Control, just overheard this..." and (with youtubey background helicopter soundtrack) proceeded to promise full transatlantic helicopter support for all ARC participants for "medical emergency, or if they'd forgotten something, or just had enough" - all it needed was a call on Ch16 and "we'll be there". ARC helicopter Control hoped that this put everyones' minds at rest, and then ARC Helicopter Control, Out. There was a moment of silence ... and the VHF moderator just let it go - seems he was completely convinced that it was genuine. Or utterly baffled, maybe. Nobody else came in with any further queries, so the ARC net was smoothly closed with no further questions. Spectacular, silly and harmless. I recorded the broadcast and sent edited versions to MarkJ in SXM and Stein in Norway, and posted something on my facebook - might have even sent it to James? It oughta go on to ybw.com and/or cruisers forum but I dunno how to load files like that. The ARC Helicopter Control lady was so convincing that setting off a few days later, I felt a little bit reassured. Even though of course, utter nonsense.