Ships Log 26 Nov 2003
The ARC website at www.worldcruising.com has all the ARC positions and some ships logs which will be more up to date than these emails and some features on various boats including Intrepid. (I haven't actually seen it since the start because its far too big to take in on Sat Phone, but I have heard it is up and running and looking good). Try it.
THE START!!!! a mixture of the emotional and the practical. Nerves a-jangling, we went along the pontoons wishing each other ‘bon voyage’, took team photos of the crews, collected the latest ARC weather forecasts (north west winds), sorted radio nets We figured people would appreciate Sunday papers with England’s Rugby victory and Bernard and Beryl bought a bunch. We were right, everyone wanted them. Nicki and I did the ARC in 2001, but for Bernard and Beryl it’s the first time. They are from the Black Country, east of Birmingham, and their longest sailing trip has been 200 miles. Beryl had butterflies, and spent the last night asking herself why she was doing this, but managed to reassure herself each time. Bernard just said ‘Fantastic’, neither slept much.
The start was organised chaos, we leave the pontoon at 1130, past 100’s of people cheering and waving and within 1 hour 230 yachts are dodging and weaving each other and the spectator boats. The start itself is clear, and we all head south down the east coast of Gran Canaria – and into the wind shadow. There may have been a better way but not many boats seemed to find it, we don’t and to the dismay of purists but in the spirit of cruising, motored for about 45 minutes through the shadow, and into a southerly wind. Forecasts!
Night fall at 1830 and 100’s of red white and green lights appear and eventually the forecast redeems itself and north west winds come in, we eat cold chicken, and try to sleep. At least 1 yacht turns back (broken halliard).The wind increases to 20+ knots and we are doing 8+ knots in lumpy seas. 2 reefs, make the going easier, we can still see lots of lights all round.
Dawn, and as the navigation lights fade, suddenly we can only see 12 boats. We are close enough to 2 to try to raise them on VHF but no answer, and we race past. Just at 1200 a boat sends a pan pan, they have a leak, the pumps are just holding it, but they will return to Gran Canaria. We all maintain radio watch to see if help is needed and are reminded that in a few days turning back will not be a realistic option. Our midday position 26.30N, 16.51W is emailed to ARC. 23 hours gone, will the adrenalin ever subside?
Tuesday 25th November
The last afternoon demonstrated to us what the ARC is all about. Paper Moon with 6 on board had loose keel bolts and was leaking badly.The pumps were just keeping pace with the water intake, but there was concern that the keel might break loose. Lots of ARC boats were within VHF range and offered all assistance, but Paper Moon was able to set course back for Gran Canaria. We took our turn relaying messages, both technical and practical, then we tracked down the latest forecast, and ran the Group D radio net at 1500UTC.
The radio nets are the heart of the ARC - a glorious chat room where we exchange positions, weather, hopes, fears, breakages and fish in a way that makes the ocean seem much more secure because there is so much talent and help available. To date we have only 5 breakages in Group D (batteries, a pc, generator, water maker and speed log and only 1 fish) but we also hear that in addition to a few cases of sea sickness, the 2 cats on Songster have been sea sick. Not sure if they volunteered for the trip or were shanghaied (the same could be said of some other Arc participants). At times its so busy we have to be on both the short range VHF and long range SSB radio used for the radio nets simultaneously, and also using our sat phone to receive emails. Its all go! We still have company - tonight we can see the lights of 12 other boats. A quiet night, beautiful sunrise, only 2 boats in sight, and the wind is now from the NE, so we roll a bit. All is well with the world.
Wednesday 26th November
The radio net yesterday was ably handled by Jim on Helice. There are 3 net controllers for each group, and we rotate responsibility. Intrepid of Dover is a Westerly Oceanlord, and we are in Radio Net D. Most boats are settling in well, and we are hearing more 'news' reported. Wizard of Oz had 2 whales nearby, Maniac and Venla had tears in their sails, South Saxon and Panina have wind instrument problems, and one boat reported that they could not believe how many things could break! We had to report that our Duogen (which produces electricity from the flow of water past the boat) has broken. Its a new product made in Nottingham, a very good design concept but has problems coping with prolonged Atlantic use. Bernard and I repaired it using 5 large cable ties and lots of duck tape, and after 15 hours it is still working. Fingers crossed!
Dinner was avocado then spaghetti bolognese - Beryl is still under the weather and ate nothing, but came up to relieve me at 4am, and this morning 'is a new woman', feeling much better and enjoying life. The weather is a nasty mixture of steady 10 knot winds from dead behind, (which since we don't have a spinakker is difficult to generate much speed from), and squally gusts from anywhere which upset the sail plans and require reefing and jibing, noisy and not easy at night. We are using our hydrovane mechanical self steering to reduce power consumption. This used to be called Bernard as well, but has changed its name to Jasper (after Jasper Carrot) since the human Bernard (who has been called that for 55 years) is a spitting image of Jasper Carrot, and it seemed fairer to ask the younger self steer to change its name. At midday Wednesday the sun is out, everyone is chatting and we are feeling good.
Andy and Nicky Gibb Intrepid of Dover 26.44N 21.38W
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