Not the final post!

Sun 16 Dec 2018 14:19
14:4.27N 060:57.3W

Dear Diary....

its been a few days since we arrived. it has been a blur of celebration, meeting friends from las Palmas, swapping stories, laughing and sharing the failures along the way. we all left Las Palmas as a group of yachts each with new friends but no real common bond except sailing. we have arrived with new friends with a shared experience. a common bond binds us as we recount the tales, the sturggles the triumphs and the times when you wondered just why on earth we were there.

all in all for me its been a great experience. not easy by a long shot. not all the challenges were sailing related. ive been asked if i would do it again, ie would i do the ARC again. Yes probably. its been a great way to build up and then cross the Atlantic. when we had issues we were able to chat to a coule of boats around us which gave us a confidence that we were not alone. on arrival here the welcome has been fantastic as other yachts clap and hoot horns and wave. we may not have met them in LAs Palmas prior to leaving but we each recognize in the safe arrival the achievement of the skipper and crew.

general questions on arrival have been "what did you break?" so here is the butchers bill for the corssing.
1 mainsheet traveller block. the sheeve fractured
1. preventer block on foredeck, exploded during the only crash gybe of the trip
1 section of main halyard. we chafed it and cut out the top meter and reattached. so we only lost 1m of rope
1 spin halyard. chafed at mid point. we being used as pole uphaul and must have chafed on top block. we need to investigate.
1 section of genoa sheet. chafed at the pole. we removed this and didn't suffer again.
hatch securing block. general wear and tear
chafe to the new genoa as it furled on teh drum. dissapointing. will need to repair the sacrifical strip
mast track for pole. newly fitted in Las Palmas. the top of track stared to come away almost on the first day. the whole track needs to be removed and re attached. not urgent as we've done our downwind sailing for now.

Food wise, we ate very well. we provisioned well in Las Palmas, the meat lasted very well. the veg and fruit lasted well considering teh temperatures etc. we learnt not to have pepeprs swinging in a net. they bashed againts the bulkhead and left what looked like a murder scene one evening!

tinned food, mostly fruit and veggie was excellent and we did use plenty. tinned sweet corn, pea and tinned boiled potatoes were excellent.
we didnt eat any tinned meat excpet some tuna. we are saving the spam and conred beef for later.....
if we had been at sea for longer then i susepct we would hsve dipped into teh tinned meat selection.

sail plan worked well, with a poled out headsail and guyed out mainsail. we reefed early on some occasions and the yacht continued to charge along. she is a well balanced an strong boat. she gave us great confidence in some big Atlantic swells. at times downbelow it osunded like the southern ocean outside but once on deck all was calm and composed.
our autopilot, an old autohelm model with a new ram did amazingly well. she ketp us on course. it did draw a lot of power but it was worth it.

on teh power side, we could hsve done with bigger batteries. we found we were charging them earlier and earlier each day. so we ran the engine for 2-4 hours each day. far more than planned.
i would double my solar cells and try to find a way to have back up charging system like a small generator. the main draw of power was:
water maker, 40amps (makes 40L per hour) run for 2 hours each day. i would have this run from a PTO (power take off) from main engine next time or get a more efficient one.
fridge 4-5amps. more as it got warmer and compressor worked longer
AIS. 3-4amps. 24hrs a day. this was a surprise.
autopilot. sometimes 7-8amps in larger waves.
lights. internal lights should be changed for LED. it will make a difference.

Refit wise. there is always something else to do or something we could have done better. i did the best i could with the time and money available. generally i think we did pretty well. in the future i would tweak how we run lines to the cockpit such as preventer lines. i will add in a turning block and clutch for the genoa furling line.
I would make sure next time the water system had all the valves in easily accessible locations so you didnt have to lift sole boards to swap tanks over. (generally it runs out at 2am when you want to fill the kettle for a bre before goin on watch!)

The propeller issue is a conundrum. we didnt find the casue. on arrival we anchored under sail and freed some weed from the prop and sail drive leg. but not much and it wasnt jammed. the blade was free to rotate and we tested ahead and astern and watched on teh gorpo the blaes folding as they should. we drove around the bay at full load and she didnt miss a beat.
i can only guess that a blade was jammed and caused the shaft to turn when in neutral. with two masses rotating we ended up with a harmonic issue where the engine was vibrating and this just got worse. we found it worse at higher speeds through the water when in neatral.
why the blade didnt feather originally i can only atrubute to heeavy sargosso weed fouling it. maybe some fishing line? who knows. I do know that other yachts had trouble with weed around teh same time that we did. So for now i have a niggly doubt about the prop which will only go away as we use the boat again in more benign conditions.

the only other worry was teh rudder. we had a small knock from teh steering gear. there was a small amount of movement in the top bearing. its something i must watch carefully and i will plan to drop the rudder in the next haul out and replace top and bottom bearings, mostly out of an abundance of caution.

so plans now are to slip away from the marina tomorrow morning. find a bay and drop anchor. swim, read books and sit on the beach. longer term I will be sailing north in January to Dominica to join the OCC rally there for a few days. March will see me leave teh yacht in Antigua while i deliver another yacht back to the med. then Gitana will be shipped home in April at some date to Southampton. after that who knows. watch this space.

i will put updates on here occasionally as i head north.
I will by saying that the level of support form back home and the level of interest that this project has generated has blown me away. i never expected so many people to be so interested and follow us so closley as we sailed across. i've heard of people checking the tracked first thing in teh morning and last thing at night. this support has been amzing to learn about and i am thrilled that so many people could share this with us. its been a huge achievement for the crew members on here to cross an ocean. its been a huge achievment for me to complete the goal after so much work over 2 years. i am proud of how we sailed and how we did. i cant wait to see our final result once the corrected times are up. I think it will show we held our own against some bigger faster newer (more expensive) yachts.

So for now. thank for following along and all the many messages of support and congratulations.
Thank you also to my crew, Mike, Kirsty, Dave and my dad. for agreeing to come along and then working so hard on the trip to make it happen.


SY Gitana