Atlantic crossing 4

Thu 23 Nov 2006 21:39
A word about the ARC in general. Anyone reading this who is thinking of
doing it next year would have a distorted view of the whole organisation.
Crews off yachts that arrived in good time and in good order have been
enjoying some great social events and seminars on every related subject.
For example, Routing and weather for the crossing. Power management.
Rigging. Management of emergencies. First aid. The return trip. Helicopter
demos. Live flare demos. Book and DVD exchange. Using a sextant. Downwind
sailing etc. All of which are delivered by experts in the field. Happy
hours, fancy dress parties, Family suppers, Pontoon dinners, some need to
be paid for but many are free, sponsored by various organisations and
suppliers. There are events every day and evening, today (Thursday) starts
with Safety demo at 10 am. SAR helicopter demo. Flare demo. Liferaft demo.
Book exchange, Happy hour, etc. right up to 10 o'clock and sometimes later.
The team are a great bunch, only about ten of them, I don't know how they do
it day after day, they must be all smiled out by the end. Some then fly out
to St Lucia and it starts all over again. As mentioned before, I attended
some of the early ones, before the mast problem and Vic and Alex's arrival,
but since then have been flat out trying to catch up. I have been touched by
the interest and concern shown by everyone involved, but when it all boils
down, and quite rightly, everyone has their own worries and concerns about
their boat and family so you are very much on your own to sort out your
Must also mention some of the locals. I have formed the impression that
we yachties are like a bunch of sheep surrounded by hungry wolves, many
have stories of rip offs, some subtle but many not so. Even good old Signor
Nestor couldn't resist sticking me for another sixty miserable euros over
and above the agreed. As Victor so aptly described it, harvest time, but
their gorging only demeans themselves. Next week the place will be like a
ghost town by comparison so boaties beware, get it in writing if you can,
but even then, while your boat is hanging from a crane 1500 miles from home
its very easy for them to hang you out to dry at the same time. Never mind,
when we are surfing down waves with the sun on our back, rainbows jetting up
from the bow, the wind murmuring softly in the rigging, white fluffy clouds
drifting by
over our heads, flying fish and dolphins for company, smiling at one another
with our hearts pounding from sheer exhilaration, gorging on life, will we
care? will we hell !!
Yesterday we passed our safety scrutiny, everything ok except for two
things. We need a throwing line and also need to have our danbuoy sited near
and attached to our lifebuoy. The danbuoy is a pole with a flag on top, a
flotation collar in the middle, and weighted at the bottom so as to make it
float poking up, makes it easier to spot from a distance when the water is
choppy. What a relief, its drawn a line in my mind, a finish, now we can get
on, less work and more fun. The weather forecast for the weekend is not
ideal, an area of low pressure to the north of the islands is threatening us
with contrary winds for Sundays start. We attended a routeing and weather
seminar yesterday morning, a must we thought, go south until the butter
melts and turn right is the time honoured way, but how do you input that?
Gleaned lots of detail and knowhow from Chris Tibbs, he's done it 22 times,
and are hoping that the high over Africa will squeeze the low further to the
north, we should be leaving now in truth, but that's not the way of it. Must
admit to feeling a little apprehension at last, it was slow coming, the kind
of nanny way of thinking nowadays pecks away at my confidence. I find it
difficult to think that way, sieving out every last possibility and holding
it up to the light, tasting it even. Whats wrong with holding up yer
seaweed, looking at yer tea leaves, chucking a stick, watching the birds,
Columbus did it and they are still talking about him. Safety is a big
concern for me, I don't want to risk other peoples lives by being flippant,
but life is a risky business, there are no certainties, will do my best to
minimise it, but.
Been ripped off again since I wrote the above, asked a diver to give the
hull a scrape, clear the through hull pipes and holes, clean the propeller.
He arrived, in a hurry as usual, told me he had 40 boats to do and would I
pay my 120 euros to his wife who was sitting in the dinghy, he didnt have
time to mess about he said, should only take 20 minutes to clean the hull,
which he assured me was foul, and he could crack on. I asked if he
considered the 20 minutes my moneys worth and he got quite stroppy. Every
professional who has ever worked on my boat, with one exception, is always
in one hell of a hurry. I long for the day when I am considered a proper
customer, one who is being rushed to rather than from, having said that,
when it comes to invoice time, suddenly I become one. Corrected a major
deficiency in our arrangements today by buying a bosuns chair, and have been
up the mast this afternoon to correct the cross trees which were wonky.
We have also bought a load more fuel and are strapping 20 liter bottles
wherever there is a space. We now have enough fuel to motor about 900 miles,
some will be used for battery charging and the rest attempting to keep up a
high average speed, we need to do at least 120 miles a day, a five knot
average, if we are to be in with a chance of arriving in good time for
Christmas. If boat speed drops below four knots we intend to run the engine
for as long as possible, five hours a day maximum. The good news is that
todays forecast is giving Northerly for Sunday, perfect. Hope all this
doesn't sound whiney, its not the mood it was written in, just making
comment about the goings on in sunny Las Palmas. The new crew are settling
in nicely, The handle has come off the loo, cant swing a cat in the cabin,
everything we need is always in the bottom of the locker, having a great
time though and chacking to get going. Manny.