Day 1 of the Race

Kingfisher 2013
Peter Smith
Wed 25 Feb 2015 15:49
Since the last blog, we have been and gone from Falmouth Harbour (sorry about the intermission). We arrived just after dark on Friday night and could not raise anyone at all in the Antigua Yacht Club marina. They finish at 1800 and that is that….! Fortunately, I had a back-up plan and we called a chap that Mark Mathews (PYD) had kindly put me in touch with a few weeks ago. I called him and he gave us a buoy to use for the night. We went ashore in the dinghy and met up with Judy (Jules’s wife) and Elli and Libby (two of his daughters) at the “Rusty Pelican” for dinner which was a great way to celebrate our completion of “test 1” - just showing up for the start. The girls were jet-lagged so the crew went on to the marina bar for a nightcap but we were also tired and headed back to the boat for a good night’s rest.

On Saturday, we started (and completed) a fairly long list of jobs. Checked in with the RORC, spent an age at Nelson’s dockyard completing customs and immigration. Did more shopping for supplies, another run to the chandlers, found ourselves a berth at Falmouth Marina, bumped into Mike (nephew) quite by chance at the Dockyard and finally came back to the trusty, Rusty Pelican for a late lunch. We found Guy Evans (our 6th and final crew member) on board when we returned to the boat and set off shortly afterwards for the skippers’ briefing and the RORC welcome party at 1830 at the yacht club. The briefing was brief and the party was without dancing so we ended up (much to Holland’s disgust) with a fairly early night. I have to say that I felt it was needed, at least in my case.

Sunday was also an early start as we wanted to get out and do some practice downwind. Only problem was that we needed to go upwind first! We ended up doing the whole of the first beat and round the corner of Antigua in order to get the sea room for the downwind practice and we had over 30 knots over the deck for a lot of the time. We got the downwind rig sorted out just about in time to turn in to Falmouth Harbour at 1600. Judy and the girls came down to the berth to have a look at Kingfisher. However, Judy had the presence of mind a) to remind me that the “Owners” drinks party was scheduled between 1600 and 1800 at the Inn at English Harbour (I had not looked at the invitation properly!) and b) to have arranged for 3 extra invitations from the RORC CEO, Eddy. Jules and I showered in record time and the 5 of us taxied over to the rather stylish and genteel drinks reception on the beach while the motley crew were dragged off the Sunday night “jump up” at Shirley Heights. Prior to their departure, the shower pump in the master cabin stopped working (not great) and the washing machine broke down. I came back to the boat to investigate and the crew also returned before getting totally Tonto’d. We managed to fix the shower pump, create the sail number banner that is required for the start and finish but did not fix the washing machine. A job for later…..

Monday morning duly arrived (after another good night) and all of us were up by 0630 with an air of expectation and excitement. We had breakfast ashore, got the dinghy tied up in the marina dinghy dock and gave Mike some fenders and cushions to store for us in his most handy container (by great good fortune it was located in the car park of our marina awaiting his yacht’s arrival from the BVI on Tuesday). Holland did some last minute shopping for fresh food and we were ready to go.

Left the dock as planned at 0930 and motored out past the “gate boat” who wanted to see all crew members on deck with lifejackets and harnesses on and the sail number on the rail. We passed muster and continued out of Falmouth harbour with Leopard right on our tail. We got the distance mark (and line) onto the chart plotter in case we finish in the dark and prepared out start sequence. The multi-hulls went first with an 11.00 start and we went next at 1110. We got a good start (putting two competitors about on the line) and sailed a reasonable first beat but Kingfisher is deeply uncompetitive against this fleet and we were gradually run down by pretty much the whole fleet. We made the first waypoint right on our plan (2 hours) but just about in last place. As we bore away down the coast of Antigua and were able to set the genoa we caught a couple of boats and had the most beautiful afternoon on a broad reach down to Barbuda. Saw a whale en route…..

We made the turn towards Nevis just before sunset and poled our both headsails for the night stretch downwind. Had a wonderful meal (pre-prepared brilliantly by Jules) and have now settled down for the first full night at sea. My watch is coming up now with Tim. More later……..