ARC Day one 22nd November
Day 1 – Nov 22
The waiting is over, the prep is done and the bananas are stowed. We're off!
The ARC departure is a big deal in Las Palmas. Caribbean music is blasting out at the harbour entrance, the walls are lined with locals waving and taking pictures, relatives and friends are hugging and Bon Voyaging.
Skipper calls for last phone calls home, crew shirts and Viking helmets. We slip our lines and follow the racing boats out with the cruisers and cats, all flying the ARC colours. Every one of us will remember this moment... the music blaring, the crowds on the harbour wall, large boats and small boats all putting to sea. The racing boats are away first, then the cruisers. Past the well-wishers, out in the harbour it's close-quarters as dozens of craft glide past each other to line up for the start.
Just at that moment, one of the nets swinging in the saloon with tomatoes, bananas and carrots decides to drop. While we wait for the start, Frank finds longer screws and starts running repairs. 25 knots of wind is whistling around cruisers, racers, dinghies, even local boats joining in for a look.
We're away six minutes after the signal. With 21 days or so to go, we'll make it up. With two reefs in the main, Nina puts her shoulder down and tramps on south to keep clear of the wind acceleration zone around the island. It's chilly: gradually all are adding layers as we watch Las Palmas fade into the distance.
Steve nominates two watches: himself, Mark and Peter; and Frank, Mike and Chris, Four hours on, four off. First watch takes kicks off at 4pm, through lumpy swells and a steady 25-30 knots off our quarter. With two reefs in the main, and preventer on, darkness falls. Dinner in these conditions is Snickers bars and mugs of tea. Steve's wife Lyn calls to say hi on the satphone.
Then the second net collapses, dumping tomatoes onto Frank's saloon bunk.The decision is made to leave them until morning. As we head south, the moon comes out and fills the cockpit with a blue glow. Chris reports that we are Chuntering along. We create a definition of chuntering “to make progress agreeably with gusto.”
Some foresail is rolled out, but drawn back in just as swiftly the lively conditions. The autohelm is working impeccably however, adding to Frank and Mike' Instrument Envy. Then Nina starts singing to us: she's clearly having a ball. Somewhere in the stern gantry that holds the fibre optic panels, there's a whistle in two octaves and a harmonic, according to Frank.
Snoring oozes up from the off-watch down below. It's a bit colder than expected but right now Nina is happy to be under way and so are her crew.