World ARC - Day 35 - 12th Feb – Nina bound for Ga lapagos

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Sat 13 Feb 2016 16:09
05:38N 79:55W

World ARC - Day 35 - 12th Feb – Nina bound for Galapagos

The day started bright and calm in the anchorage. Dawn crawled into our cabin at 05.30, and by 06.15 the sun poked his head up over a perfect horizon. Lynda and Steve were completing this 840 mile leg on their own, having lost their friends Chris and Lesley, who had been on all the way from St Lucia, and Karen and Peter going to join Nina in Galapagos.
By 07.00 Steve was back over the side of Nina, in wetsuit and weight belt, hanging off lines strung along the hull again, for one last check, inspection and prod. By 07.30 she was pronounced as clean as she could be, and we have done as much as possible to stop us being rejected in Galapagos by the divers.

'It's a rally, not a race!'
The ARC states this repeatedly to its participants, but every leg is the same.
Start line published and laid out, with committee boat and line to a buoy.
Starting instructions, classes for boats published with handicaps, old starting procedure.
10 minute warning with horn on VHF, 'C' flag hoisted.
5 minute warning with horn on VHF, 'P' flag hoisted.
Start, both flags lowered on committee boat, long blast on horn, lots of shouting on VHF!
Over the course of a few beers on various occasions, skippers have been questioning this procedure. This was the morning when it was finally put to the test by more than half the fleet.
This was helped by a number of situations; the course set for the start was right through the islands, from our anchorage through between the middle of the islands. The Las Perlas islands have large areas
of shallows around them, quite a few of the fleet had run aground during the week, due to electronic charts being inaccurate, and paper charts and guides being merely a suggestion of depths in many areas.
Also, it was spring tides, 4m of range, and low water was at 11.00 hrs. just right for the start time. It was also not helped by the suggestion from the committee at the briefing that the 2m rock and shallows at the outside of the anchorage would be made the end of the starting line, and showing various hazards and rocks to be missed as the fleet sped through the islands.
Paw Paw, the big Leopard Catamaran started the drift out of the anchorage, upping the hook at 08.00, and Elaine announcing to the fleet that they were leaving. This became a flood, with Nina joining the drift away just after 09.00, when we had prepared everything for sea. More than half the fleet were scampering over the horizon by this time. I'm sure the cheering will be even louder at Galapagos for the winning boats of the next leg of the rally.....
We left with our friends, Jasmine and Peter on Meermowe (a seagull in German?). Peter was a mathematics professor in Croatia, and is now a train driver in Australia, a very interesting chap.
With 20 knots of breeze, we set up the poled out foresail to starboard, and gibe preventer on the main to Port, and started out South South West, plotting our course to miss the southern end of the huge Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS - like a huge motorway for big ships) running north to south from the Panama Canal out into the Pacific.
The wind grew and grew as the day progressed, and by midnight we were bowling along with main and gib well reefed, in 30+ knots of wind, and a growing sea, starting to call and dodge tankers spewing out of the end of the TSS. It all felt very familiar...... as the lovely guys from the ARC Atlantic will testify .

We were on our way to the Galapagos islands at last.