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ARC starts

November 21, 2011

Monday 21st November

Who can believe it’s this far through November already?! Not long and we’ll be seriously thinking about, dare I mention it, Christmas? At least the radio stations out here haven’t started their Christmas music yet and there are no decorations up in the towns. There’s a few Spanish Christmas sweets out in the supermarkets but with the sun shining every day and temperatures hovering around 23° C, the Festive Season is certainly not top of our list!

It was a big day in the world of blue-water cruising yesterday as the ARC Race starts from Gran Canaria. A 3-week race to St Lucia in the Caribbean, aiming to arrive for Christmas. There’s usually about 300 official entries and a lot more unofficial ‘NARC’s. It’s more of a cruising-in-company safe way of crossing the Atlantic and many people choose to enter the race for fun but also as a way of having something on a daily basis to aim for.

The unofficial entries are made up of boats that are too small to be official entries, boats that don’t have all the required safety gear, boats that just want to tootle along etc… I have a friend who, along with his friend, took a Sadler 25 across as an unofficial entry a couple of years ago. Having had to motor across Biscay because it was flat calm and enjoyed pretty easy sailing to get to the start, they then had pretty rough weather in the Atlantic and hit something very solid which took out their rudder and wind vane with a rudder on the bottom. They sent all the necessary ‘Mayday’ calls and emails to the nearest boat and then, whilst hove-to across a rather large Atlantic swell, set about making a new rudder from a shelf! The nearest boat, which was an official entry, left the race and came back for them to shadow them all the way to St Lucia. By the time they got to St Lucia they were on Mark 4 or so of the rudder and the boat had very few shelves left!! The boat that accompanied them won the ‘Spirit of the ARC’ award.

I’m not sure I fancy 3 weeks at sea, the trip here was long enough! By the time you get to 10days you’d probably have eaten all your fresh stuff and be onto the tins. I remember seeing my friend’s boat stacked with 10p noodles and potatoes! My sister Lily can also tell a tale about tinned dinners as she sailed half-way round the world on the Clipper Race. It does become a little exciting when you play tin-lottery – dinner made from tins that have lost their labels!!

Luckily onboard First Essential we have all the mod-cons! We have a lovely freezer which is usually well stocked – unfortunately at the moment it’s full of ice as it needs defrosting – a job for this week. The fridge is very good and we’ve finally got it settled to a temperature that, fingers crossed, doesn’t freeze up the little freezer box but is cold enough to keep the milk fresh! The drinks fridge is just an added bonus and chills the champagne rather nicely!!

The bread is baked, the washing done, chrome polished, and boat sparkling which can only mean one thing – we’re off an a trip! We’re off to La Gomera tomorrow to test out the trip in a bit more wind, explore the island and also to try and put my cousin off rowing across the Atlantic! I doubt we’ll succeed but at least I can tell my Auntie I tried!!

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