The week before the ARC crossing

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 21 Nov 2009 17:51

Our new crew moved in this morning. We have had quite a busy week one way or another and finding someone with the suitable skills, right sort of personality and good references was one of them.

Chris is only thirty and should be with us when we cross the Atlantic as well as when we circumnavigate the world.

Soon after he had moved his stuff aboard, it was time for us all to make our way to the car-park at the other end of the marina, from whence we had moved last Monday. Here we joined the other participants and at noon, we paraded through the street within the group representing the UK flag, a band marching with us.

At the head of each group, a flag-holder carried the appropriate flag for that country.

People lined the street, both on the level where we were walking and at the elevated level above. The police were also in attendance.

When we reached the other side of the marina, where the flag poles had been erected, we stopped, speeches were made and the flags raised with the accompaniment of gunfire, or similar.

It was now time for the dinghy race which was an hilarious event. A number of dinghies had been decorated, one using a Viking ship as its design, along with the sailors wearing the appropriate horned helmets.

All of the participants in the race were in fancy dress and the crew in each dinghy made every effort to soak any of the other participants in dinghies which were close at hand. Most, if not all of the people taking part, had partaken of some alcoholic beverages before the fun had begun.

During the afternoon children’s games took place and around 16.30 the volleyball started.

Fortunately, we returned to our boat for lunch. The wind had changed and the boats were no longer lying as before so it was necessary to make some adjustments to lines and to fenders. Austin even had to swim out to our mooring buoy and move our line to another, more conveniently placed buoy. This had become necessary not only because of the change in wind direction but because, in order to make space for another catamaran, we and several other boats had moved our positions while still attached to the same buoys.

Sunday evening was the prize giving for the dinghy race and a dockside barbecue but we had a scrumptious supper cooked by Pili, on the boat that Bob was skippering.

Pili is Bob’s long-term partner and she will be joining us in St. Lucia and will stay with us until we reach Equador.

Monday we attended the ARC crew supper for boats with an LOA of 13 to 15.5 metres.

The meal was excellent and the company great fun. A band played throughout and although dancing was scheduled, it didn’t actually take place.

Lots more seminars on Tuesday and a chance to relax with a steak barbecue on the boat that night. Having had a tremendous downpour, not having to go out was a real luxury.

Wednesday morning there was an awful smell of fuel oil and the water in this small marina was covered in oil.

There were many dinghies in the water acting as a ferry from the boat to a dockside ladder. These were coated in thick, black oil, as was our water hose, our lines, including the long lines to the mooring buoys, the mooring compensators and our sugar scoops, not to mention the water line.

We have completed a claim form, as have all the boats moored in Vela Latina, as well as those boats which are anchored just outside. We hope that the authorities will send someone to clean the boats and the lines.

Wednesday night was the fancy dress party and we went as pirates. In fact, only Austin and Chris went to the party as Dick had succumbed to a nasty cold and was feeling most unwell and I, in the capacity of caring wife, stayed with him to administer the necessary care required to get him through the night.

Next morning most people encountered were suffering from the effects of the night before, including Chris and Austin.

The turn-out had been amazing with almost everyone in fancy dress including the bar tenders.

Thursday morning was the SAR helicopter demonstration, the live flare demo and the liferaft demonstration and then Chris and I went along to the Net controllers briefing so that we would have an idea of what would be required of us during the crossing.

The boat is an absolute tip with almost every surface covered with something. I am assured that most of the other boats are in an even worse condition.

The gel-coat repairs which were ordered way back in mid October were finally done on Friday.

Although the Lagoon agent here was also informed mid October, that the replacement fitting for the steering needed to be fitted, that is no longer going to happen and Chris and Dick have had to do it themselves. However, we have been led to believe that they might compensate us for the replacement stainless steel, anchor roller fitment which we had to get made to replace the one which was not fit for the purpose. Raymarine has also been onboard to provide and connect the new auto-pilot fitting to the steering unit.

Thursday evening was the Lagoon party for all of the catamarans taking part in ARC 2009.

Friday was mega busy trying to complete outstanding jobs. The boat still has piles of stuff on top of surfaces but is getting better.

The port authority has finally accepted responsibility for the oil spill and sent out some workman, dressed in wet suits, some using buoyancy aids, to clean the boats, lines, etc.

The farewell cocktail party hosted by Patronato de Turismo, was held on Friday evening, on the terrace of Sotavento club.

Saturday evening we had arranged another pontoon party for the catamarans. Then, its all go for the start of the crossing at 1pm Sunday.


Below: The dockside wall and the metal compensator covered in tar

            Austin and Chris dressed for the fancy dress party