Sunday 23 November - the start day on our journey to St Lucia
Very frantic time over the last couple of weeks getting the boat to Las Palma on Gran Canaria, working on the boat and getting all the provisions.
The arrival at Las Palma was delayed by three days because of 50 knot winds which we hit trying to get there. We had to give up and turn back after 5 hours and spend the next day repairing some damage caused by the steep 3m waves. Not a pleasant experience and it meant that we had three days less to prepare the boat - we ended up with only 8 days to do a lot of work!
The major work was to fix a leak as we were taking on water into the boat as we were sailing. After someone let us down in Tenerife who had agreed to do the work at the end of October, the seals for the rudder had to be done in Gran Canaria. Without this we would not be able to go as we were taking on water and could not risk that for three weeks! We had to get Andy who is one of the crew to bring out the parts from the UK as it was the only way we could get them before December. Andy only arrived last Wednesday and so I had arranged the boat to be lifted out and the seals replaced on the Thursday - 3 days before our start. A very stressful day since at first they thought I was going to do the work, then they wanted to remove the rudder to replace the seals (a 2 day job) before I convinced them that it could be done without doing this which they eventually did. However it was another day which we lost in preparing the boat and at this point we still had a significant list of jobs to get through.
On Friday we had the SSB aerial connection remade by a specialist company who used one of our halyards to haul themselves up the backstay which is was not designed to be used for. This pulled the line off the pulley at the top of the mast jamming the line in the pulley. Although it is a spare halyard, it is also our only method of getting up the mast of retrieving a man over board so we had to fix it. Andy agreed to go up the mast (we had to drop the genoa and use that halyard) and two hours later, two trips up the mast and another 100 euros for a replacement pulley we had it fixed. Another two hours gone that we needed for other things!!
On Friday night when I found water had leaked into the boat again I was in despair but decided not to mention it to the crew since we had a farewell party that night and wanted time to think about what to do. Dreadful night sleep on Friday and on Saturday I told the crew I was not happy to take the boat out with the amount of water we were taking on. They all took it very well and we agreed we would try and get the boat fixed and go next week. Not ideal but I could not risk problems when we are 1500 miles from land.
Andy and I went to see the boat yard on Saturday morning (24 hours before the race was due to start) and they immediately sent out two mechanics on the Saturday morning to help us find the problem, organise the parts to be delivered and arrange the lift out. They found that the water in the engine compartment was actually fresh water and traced it back to the cockpit shower which was leaking a small amount but enough to half fill the engine compartment i.e. the boat was not leaking sea water but dumping water from the fresh water tanks into the boat. Two hours later and I had fixed that and we could get on with the final jobs. Just a few things to finish off this morning but nothing major and we have until 11:30 when we must leave.
Catherine and Sarah have spent the last week getting the food for 5 people for 25 days and organising the storage. The planning and logistics of getting that much food and drink, deciding what to buy, sourcing it and getting it delivered and packed away is a major job. Putting it away is not easy as there is limited space and people need to be able to access things for specific menus without turning the boat upside down to find it. The food has been packed week by week so there is a set amount of food for each week and we do not end up eating everything in the first week. Sitting here on early Sunday morning and it is amazing that the boat now looks normal again after all that food and drink which seemed to be spread out everywhere has been put away. That is if you ignore the 6 crates of fruit and vegetable sitting in the cockpit that still need to be stored!
At 11:30 today we leave the marina and the official start it 1pm. All the crew are excited if not a little nervous as we have some very strong winds in the squally conditions at the moment. However, the 7 day outlook is for good trade winds blowing at 13-18 knots which is perfect. It will just be a little bumpy for the first 24 hours.
If you want to track our progress, you need to download the iPad App https://www.worldcruising.com/arc/eventfleetviewer.aspx which is free but you have to pay £1.99 to add the ARC race. It should be the first option on the list and it is ARC 2014 (not ARC+ 2014).
Next blog update will not be until we reach St Lucia probably around 16 December.