One week in and the ARC fleet is settling into the routine of their 2,700nm crossing although not in the kind of conditions that many had expected. Squalls, rain showers and washing machine like conditions many in the fleet have found themselves beating for the last four days. But conditions have kept most on their toes and have resulted in some early running repairs for some.
Here’s a short selection of some the many blogs from the boats sent in over the last two days.
Domini – Sailing At Night
29 November 2014
Julian & Lynn Ronnie
I’m not sure why they call this particular crossing, “The Milk Run.” We’ve just been hit by a number of squalls, with winds gusting up to gale force and horizontal rain whacking into your eyeballs. I think I’d call it “The Water Plume,” or “Cyclonic Irrigation.” Even “The Adrenalin Rush.” But Milk Run? Nah.
But first of all we’d like to thank the ARC committee for the spectacular display of shooting stars that they treated us to on Wednesday night. Absolutely fantastic.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get sailing in the moonlight, knowing you are following in the wake of Christopher Colon and the other great navigators on their epic voyages of discovery, with nothing to guide you but a compass and the light of the stars. Well, the light of the stars and the GPS of course. And the radar. And the electric plotter. And AIS. But it’s basically the same idea. You, your little boat, and the great big ocean.
But the night is also the time when things go wrong. Or more accurately, when things go wrong at night, they seem much worse. On Thursday night for example, just as Lyn was coming off watch, there was a loud bang and the autopilot gave up. Now, when you are only two handed, the autopilot giving up is a very big deal. It’s like losing a crewman. Actually, it’s worse than that, because you can pick a new crewman at the next port. And this is the perfect crewman. This crewman doesn’t eat all the chocolate biscuits during his watch. This crewman doesn’t moan when it’s cold and miserable. This crewman just sits quietly on watch, steering the boat far better than you could ever do yourself.
And this crewman just died…
Ju quickly crawled out of his pit, and it was not too long before he discovered that the cotter pin that holds the bolt between the RAM and the quadrant had broken. Now those of you that know Ju and his infamous DIY skills will be amazed at this statement. You will be surprised that he even knows what a cotter pin is. He has been banned from any type of maintenance ever since he managed to plumb the washing machine into the gas main. (That is a true story.)
Actually, truth be told it was Lyn that found the broken cotter pin. But that’s just a detail.
Quickly he got out his new set of Halford’s spanners and a monkey wrench, and set about replacing the pin and tightening up the bolt. As you read this in the comfort of your own home, this may not sound so difficult. But bear in mind that this is in a completely inaccessible hole at the back of the boat, in the middle of the night, at a 30 degree angle of heel, bouncing up and down like a fairground ride, and with the bolt moving every time the rudder turned.
It wasn’t easy, but eventually he managed it.
What a hero!
And so for now, touch wood, it seems to be working.
We have just sailed over The Tropic of Cancer. So I guess that we are now officially in tropical waters.
Not that you’d know it from the weather.
Keep on trackin’
Milanto – Milanto log
29 November 2014
There’s obviously something wrong with me … when I decided to do the ARC again this year, considering we were only 4 crew on board I promised myself that I would stay away from the northern route, which is the shortest, and follow the square-rigged path, going south until as they say ‘the butter melts’ . But if the weather keeps changing like this the butter will never melt! Here I am again on the tough northern route beating against the wind and waves, same day as last year, thank goodness the conditions are better, at least there is a bit of sunshine . The difference is that even the organiser World Cruising, probably for the first time in the ARC Rally history had suggested that the northern route was the right one to take. (By Editor – World Cruising Club suggested the Rhumb line route). Only my friend Alberto is nearly, around 20 miles ahead of us. We are not aiming to really race but of course in the end everyone on board is trying their best .The excitement of ocean sailing gets to you every time … wow we just caught a fish the first one, even at this speed … we are all happy …Vale
Hi my name is Carla and I’m a crew member of Milanto, and I’m very proud to be on board. when Valerio the skipper invited me to join the race I was so happy because I imagined a smooth sailing downwind towards the warm of the Caribbean following the southern course, and yes of course I thought of racing but also of enjoying the cruising. I was so convinced of this idea that I did not even bring my winter sailing gear with me, lucky for me I found in Las Palmas a sport shop so invested in new boots and a waterproof top …… because we ARE in the middle of north course beating for more than 4 days now against the wind and the waves but more then happy to be here.
The competitive racing spirit that is inside Valerio and me is stronger than I thought. In fact, after a wrong decision at the beginning of race which made us loose one night in a no wind zone, it was hard on us but we were repaid by seeing so many of dolphins leaping around us. Valerio had to decide to go and chase the wind, even if that meant staying north – one advantage is that it is shorter- to try and reach, and even beat, the rest of the fleet. It does not means that we are not enjoying the race but on the contrary we having a great experience, feeling the Atlantic Ocean in all its aspects. Today we caught also a nice mahi mahi so tomorrow we will have a great fish dinner .Today homemade lasagna is on the menu , then we have the rest of the day to enjoy.
Time Bandit – Beam Me Up
Stuart & Anne Letton
28 November 2014
For the last 48 hours the whole fleet has been reporting “washing machine” conditions. On one boat the crew took to the floor. On another, into the sail locker. Consequently, Eric, having read Prof Brian Cox book on physics and space stuff, has been collecting old bits of wire, broken radio and assorted fuses and is now trying to assemble a transporter; same as used on Star Trek.
He’s hoping to have it finished in time to get him off Time Bandit and back to his own wee bed at least before any more rock and roll nights!
Other than that, we’re all doing well. We had our best days run yesterday of 171 miles, just breaking the previous day of 170. The winds are dropping to 12-15 for the next few days so we will be logging more like 100-120 but it will be a shade less stressful. Dead downwind in a breeze is fun and fast but you are always on your toes watching out for and avoiding the crash gybe; which we have avoided so far.
We caught our first decent fish today. A large Mahi mahi but…..lost it as we got it alongside.
Today we had to turn a fold in the chart to plot our Noon position and at last, St Lucia is on the same page. Approx 750 miles to go. We can almost smell the rum.
We made contact with some old friends coming across behind us with the “Atlantic Crossing Group”. This is a self managing group of yachts crossing to the Caribbean who share position and weather reports and offer mutual support in time of need, The group is also known as the NARC’s. Not the ARC. We will be meeting up with a few of them in January before everyome heads off on their own direction.
Right now, my direction is bed as I’m on at 02:00.
Northern Child – Northern Child Day 5
28 November 2014
Our apologies for skipping one day in giving friends and loved-ones an update on our escapade on Northern Child. However, yesterday we were a bit occupied and pre-occupied with a small leakage problem around our rudder. While some were thinking of calling out “Houston, Houston, we have a….”, others kept their calm and repaired what turned out to be a moved seal around the rudder casing, which,. in turn, caused a minor leak from the bottom — never a good thing for a boat crossing the ocean. Because of the potential implications, we even considered paying a brief visit to Cape Verde to have it checked out.
But Houdini-like skipper Chris managed to wriggle himself into the lazarette, and repair the seal with the rudder in motion. The casing again is as watertight as it should be and we decided to carry on our 250-degree bearing to St. Lucia. Needless to say, discussions among the crew ranged from excitement over visiting Cape Verde to black humor about the possibility of finding ourselves in life rafts some 500 NM from the nearest land. Chris, as always ably assisted by first mate Xav, and by sat phone by boat owner Christian in the UK and rudder expert Giovanni in Genoa, got the job done and issue resolved, and the decision to proceed boosted crew morale to new heights. Today felt like a new beginning with fantastic winds, even if from a somewhat unusual direction. By the end of the day, we will have crossed the 2,000 NM-to-go line, i.e. we are one-third of the way there.
Other highlights of the last 48 hours are:
-We saw scores of dolphins dancing around our boat during the night, lit up by the fluorescent algae. Laura called it the most beautiful site she had ever seen in her admittedly young life. Mike nicknamed them the “disco dolphins”.
-Arie caught our first fish, a 20 inch Mahi Mahi, ably cleaned by Xav and put in the fridge for what no-doubt will be a sumptuous dinner. At the time of writing, a second fish has just taken our bait.
– Jaime and Ian K enjoyed the novel pleasure of a wet slap in the face from a flying fish on its trajectory over the boat deck yesterday evening – a memorable experience for both!
-Watch team A continues their discussions of deep philosophical issues surrounding life, death, guilt and redemption. Inspired by the incredibly beautiful sunsets and moon rises, these nightly conversations keep us from falling asleep and occasionally lead to profound thoughts. Particularly Paul is capable of uttering one-liners that may turn out to have profound meaning. Our favorite so far: When asked what he feels when he looks at the universe of the millions of stars above us, he answered, “a sore neck.” We are considering collecting his and other’s aphorisms in a booklet and have the ARC publish it.
-Watch team B reportedly talks mostly nothing.
You can read more logs from the fleet as they make their Atlantic crossing at: