Home and dry
When Jim Hacker had been Minister for Administrative Affairs for some months there was talk of a re-shuffle. Jim was terrified about his performance but everyone from Sir Humphrey to George, his driver assured him that he had done “all right”. We think we did “all right”. We suffered no personal crises; there was a good spirit among the crew at all times. We made a fairly fast passage, there were no significant problems with the boat or her equipment and we arrived in good shape. We are grateful not to have been tested by serious malfunctions or breakages.
We took eighteen days, to the minute.
turned off the engine an hour out of
We sailed the whole trip under genoa alone; we did not unfurl the mains’l once although we had preventers rigged and were prepared to do so at any time.
We took one Stugeron anti-seasickness tablet between us the whole passage.
I have come to the conclusion that the sailing itself is relatively easy; sailors who cross the Atlantic east to west in the right season, unconstrained by the need to leave on any particular date should expect following winds between forces 3 and 7 95% of the time. Any fairly experienced crew in a well found boat should be able to manage that for two to three weeks. Which is not to say that the project is a negligible one. The test comes when there are one or more breakdowns in the personnel or the boat, and things are always going wrong with boats; they are complicated machines relying heavily on electrical equipment and electronics in a very hostile environment. The trick is to prepare so that the risk of malfunction is minimised, when something does go wrong alternative equipment can be brought into play and if it cannot, or that too fails, the crew is sufficiently prepared with the right tools, know-how, resourcefulness and confidence to make the necessary repair. I think it is the latter part that is most difficult and success is not guaranteed.
The boat that lost its rudder and skeg was abandoned after its exhausted crew were taken off by a larger yacht. Friends who left the Canaries as part of our little flotilla suffered the loss of a foresail, which they could not haul down, and later the starboard lower shroud with nearly a thousand miles to go. They dealt with these vicissitudes admirably and we hope we could have managed half as well.
Our freedom from equipment failure can be put down partly to good fortune, partly good decision making and partly to the skill of our engineer friend Bill. His advice was sound and his installations held up under duress.
Whilst not dangerous, the constant motion was difficult, particularly for cooking but also for dressing, washing and everything else down below. It would have been very easy to suffer minor injury and of course the danger is always of one thing leading to another. But it did not.
We are very glad to be here! The weather is great and the people are wonderfully welcoming and helpful. The way of life is “laid back” as we all know, but that chimes in well with our mood. John on Combak (so called because he will always come back) has supplied us with fresh fruit and vegetables and tips on how to use them. The lads from Sparkle Laundry have been round in response to a call on the VHF and we are anticipating a mountain of clean, pressed washing by 1700 tonight. The Times on line is available, printed off, each day. This is the life! How will I ever drag the mate away?
We found a nice clean ensign in our flag locker.