ARC rally route

Been meaning to post this image for a while. We’ve finally had good enough internet to upload the image (click for a high resolution version).

ARC Rally Route Interlude IIt shows our ARC crossing over the Atlantic (highlighted track), along with everyone else’s paths. Pretty cool to see where everyone went.

Parts of this track I remember perfectly, running South from heavy weather at the start, winds swinging around pushing us North 3/4 across, etc.
I think it’s a really beautiful image and it still blows me away we traveled that far on a little sailboat together.

ARC Finished!

ARC 2014 is now finished!

ARC

It’s been an amazing month for us. An Atlantic crossing under our belts. So many hours put into upgrading Interlude and then repairing the damage such a crossing inflicts. Parties and get togethers with new friends all sharing the same crazy experience. And behind it all the support of the ARC.

A while back someone asked me why we were doing the ARC. Now the event is finished I think that’s easy to answer for us. It’s the people it brings together. The framework of events, training, parties, sundowners, etc, fosters interactions. We’ve met so many people during the last month, many who I’m sure we’ll be hanging out with for months to come. Everyone of them helpful, bringing their own knowledge and experiences. We wouldn’t have got here without them.

Now it’s all over it’s sad to see the fleet disperse and head their separate ways but we’re also keen to head out into the Caribbean on our own.

Its like leaving home for that first time! Thank you ARC 2014 for being our supportive ‘family’ for the last four weeks!

Repairs

Repairs are well underway and we should be finished and ready to move on from Rodney Bay in a day or two.

Our Parasail, which got well mangled up during the crossing, was looked at by Thomas who’s here from Parasailor Europe providing support. We thought it was a write off but after inspecting the damage he said we’d been lucky and it’s easy to fix.

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The only other issue we had was the reef lines, which after scratching our heads for a day turns out are a simple fix also. Our single reef-line system seems a little complex when you get inside the boom but we’ve worked it out now and don’t really want to lose the ease of being able to control everything from the cockpit whilst at sea.

We’ve also been given some great advice from others who had the same issues coming over and have since researched reasons why the chafe happened. Turns out we really need to treat all the reefs as one, so keep tension on reefs two and three when putting in reef one, etc. I don’t think we had enough tension on the lines which day after day then slowly rub through.

Always something new to learn! Check out the damage on these bad boys!

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Atlantic Crossing

Sorry for the delay in updating this page. Been a crazy few days since we got back with repairs, parties, sleep!

I tired posting these updates from sea but they didn’t work for some reason so here they are…

Day 1

Time for one last cup of tea before the start!

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Our good friends and neighbours on s/v Spray ready for the start!

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And… we’re off……

 

Day 2
After a very emotional start for us both yesterday from Las Palmas we quickly settled into some pretty nasty opening day conditions. 20 knots frequently gusting up to 30 combined with big waves spinning us, and everyone else, around.

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The larger boats of course raced past us and everyone fell neatly into their divisions. That was until nightfall when we noticed scores of AIS targets bunching up below Gran Canaria. As we closed in on the fleet the wind dropped and then died. 2knots. We were warned about this effect in the shadow of the island but it was pretty full on and caused pretty much everyone to bunch up during the dark of night. Having 150+ boats around you at night is very disorientating but as we aren’t in the racing division we just lobbed the engine on for an hour, charged the batteries and weaved through all the racing yachts only doing 0.8 over ground! Suckers! :)

Day two has brought much better weather. The seas have calmed and we’re now heading south towards the trade winds (and warmer weather).

Things are good on board. No issues, we are both happy and getting our rest as we settle into the next three weeks at sea.

 

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IMG_0149Scores on the doors…

Trip time: 25.5 hours
Distance covered: 158.9 Miles
Average speed: 6.3 knots
Max speed: 13.8 knots

Day 4
Still heading Southwest trying to avoid the pesky remains of a gale that pushed South a few days ago. The winds and swell are starting to stabilise after a few days of tightly packed together squalls which kept us busy to say the least.

Panic set in last night when we refreshed the chart plotter and realised there were no other ships in AIS range. No lights visible either. We were alone. But then a new boat popped up going our way and we’ve been playing cat and mouse trying to catch him ever since.

It’s a good feeling knowing there’s always a few boats close to hand. Makes me feel a lot less isolated in this giant pond. We have also started getting an ‘all yachts positions’ update from ARC control which is great as we can see where all our friends are. Everyone seems to be either heading roughly our way or toughing it out more North. After trying that for a few days we’re happy to leave them to it! Might be a faster crossing but we’re on the hunt for some calmer seas and warmer skies.

Interlude is doing well. No issues thus far, a few squeaks here and there that’ll get a shot of WD40 next time we get a break in the weather.

The new solar panels we fitted are amazing!  Seeing over 10amps which is helping our energy consumption. The water-maker is working well so we’re starting to run it for a few hours every second day to keep the tanks topped up.

As for us… First few days were testing. But as the conditions improve we’re now sleeping on our off watches much better. We’re doing three hours on three off and within 5mins of laying down we’re out for the count. I think our bodies are in on the act now, so force us into a real deep sleep when and where it can. Food on board is fresh. We’re eating as much of the fresh stuff as possible before it spoils. Lots of fruits and veggies now to offset the long life processed stuff later.

Sprits are high though. We’re starting to settle into this life at sea business.

Scores on the doors…

Time: 68 hours
Distance covered: 423.6 miles
Average speed: 6.2 knots

Day 6
25% done! Woohoo! We broke the 700 miles mark early this morning. If we can keep this pace up we should be in the Caribbean in another 14-15 days.

Everything’s working well on board- water maker for nice hot showers, Sat Comms for weather and emails, no issues so far which is great news!

We’ve passed a few boats who’ve mentioned issues they are having. One guy could only charge his batteries if engaged reverse gear (ouch), and Morning Haze, a boat we were 10m away from in Las Palmas and randomly passed last night, said their sat weather system was down. We also saw from the ARC emails that about 10 boats have now retired, mostly due to rigging issues although one or two had broken booms.

I guess a lot of those bigger issues come down to how hard you want to push your boat. Of course we want to get over asap but we try not to risk damage to Interlude so always play it safe. We reef way earlier than we need to, and always have a reef in overnight regardless. The skippers of those boats must be gutted but at least it happened pretty early on and not 1500 miles off-shore.

You can feel the desire in everyone to head West now. The weather still isn’t really playing nice so we spent much of the last 48 hours heading Southwest but we keep seeing others who are beating into wind trying to go straight. Again we’d rather take things easy, plus there’s the question of our tiredness. If a slightly less direct route means we can get more rest we’ll take it every time.

Day 8
We’re over 1000 miles into this trip now, a number that seems ridiculous to me but is still dwarfed by the 1800 to go.

The sailing has been much better over the last 48 hours but is still very unsettled. Hopefully the trades will fill in over the next day or so and remain stable until landfall.

We had our first bit of damage on board. A pin vibrated loose from one of the cars on the mainsail so we had to quickly drop it and then Jerry rig a fix. So far it’s holding well.

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The fishing line we lent has been deployed and hopes are high for some fresh seafood, well my hopes are high, Helen doesn’t think we’ll catch a thing. :)

We wanted to get some better fishing gear in Las Palmas but ran out of time in the end. Looking back now getting ready for this crossing ate up so much of everyone’s time. It’s good to be out here away from todo lists and endless fixes.

We’ve really settled into life on board, days are lazy and fly by. We’re both doing well with our sleep after a few tired days early on. Looking forward to the halfway mark and and bottle of wine we’ve put aside to celebrate, should crack that open in 2-3 days if we keep up our current pace.

Scores on the doors…

Hours at sea: 165
Distance covered: 1041 miles
Average speed: 6.3
Fish caught: 0

Day 10
What a fun afternoon! Winds and swell have finally stabilised and lightened so it was time to release our Parasail. Truth be told we could have done this yesterday but it’s such a huge powerful sail I think we needed the extra day to prepare.

We got all the rigging sorted, the sail on deck ready to hoist, and the white sails tucked away. Popped the engine on to raise the parasail and ‘donk!’ It cut out.

I tried a few things, checked in the engine room, etc, then we saw one of the sheets in the water. Grrr! Yep, on our first use of this sail we’d wrapped the damn line around the prop.

Diving in I saw the line wrapped around the prop and after 15mins managed to free it. Good stuff but I have to say going for a dip in the middle of he Atlantic felt a little ‘sharky’. First time we’ve ever done that, leave a line in the water, I guess the excitement of getting our new sail up was the reason. Oh well. No harm done.

The sail is amazing! We’re doing 6 knots in only 9 knots of wind from behind. More so the boat is so stable. Honestly, it’s like being in a marina! We just need to be very respectful of its power.

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Scores on the doors…

Distance covered: 1340 miles
Average speed: 6.2 knots
Hours at sea: 211
Fish: -1 (woke up to a missing lure this morning, doh!)

Day 11
We had a nightmare last night. After only 8 hours of flying our Parasailor sail the halyard cut through and it fell straight into the sea. It took us five hours to unwrap, untangle, and get the thing back on board. Ugh.

Luckily it didn’t get caught on the rigging but we were both pretty tired after fighting with it for hours. So heavy once they fill with water.

In the cold light of day we can see the sail has many rips. Gutted. I understand chafe but this was an unused halyard which looked perfect when we lifted the sail and it was totally cut though in 8 hours!? Not happy. There must have been something up there slowly biting away at the line. We’ll take a look when back on land.

Weather wise things are still pretty unsettled. We’re getting larger squalls also, one of which scared the life out of us last night.

The wind jumped from 12 knots to 34 within 60sec and turned us 90 degrees to starboard. Now we trim our sails for this, always keeping a reef in overnight, etc, so it shouldn’t have been an issue. A 320m long tanker differed. It was almost comical. First vessel we’ve seen in 4 days and as it was about to pass us with a 2 mile clearance we get hit with the squall and are forced to head straight for it. Not sure what the captain must have thought but we managed to fight Interlude and push her behind. As soon as we were safe the wind quickly dropped back to 12 knots as if nothing had happened.

Someone up there has got a very weird sense of humour. :/

Day 14
Still no trade winds. Bad weather to the Northeast of us is causing choppy conditions in our area as we push west. The winds aren’t a problem but the sea state is very confused and lumpy causing poor Interlude to rock back and forth as she jerks over the waves rather than glide through them.

The rocking is also causing a lot of force to be applied to the rig. Every now and then a wave flips us and a mini gybe happens making the whole boat shudder. It’s horrible to hear but so far nothing bad has happened. We’ve received emails from other boats doing the ARC and everyone is suffering badly from it.

It’s also causing our sleep to get broken. We’re pretty tired at the moment, sleeping on all our off watches during the day now as well. We’re both in a bit in a daze truth be told.

Still, things are still good on board and sprites are high. We just want to get there now. 1000 miles to go. After every bad squall there’s always a rainbow.

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Day 16
75% done! We’re under 700 miles to go!

The last few days have been mostly the same as before weather wise. Heavy squalls, grey skies, huge 3m+ swells. It’s all doable but isn’t exactly what we had in mind when thinking about crossing the Atlantic. When we thought of Trade Winds it was always a romantic picture of steady 18knot winds, calm slowly rolling seas, and bright blue skies. Oh well, you can’t have everything I guess and we might still get a few days of that as we head closer to the Caribbean.

We’ve had a few more small things break on board. Two of our reef lines decided they wanted to chafe through on the same day- one we haven’t used on this trip! Reef one line is now trapped in the boom so we’re a little nervous about changing the main at the moment, which is set at reef one.

We try to inspect as much of the boat daily for anything like this happening but you can’t catch it all. Looks like reef one was rubbing near where the boom joins the mast. Reef two we still have no clue about, it just decided to give up the ghost.

It does mean we’re going a little slower than we could do. Again though it depends what’s safest. We currently have a sail working that gives us 150 miles per day. Do we risk that to try and get this jammed reef line sorted… We’ll take another look today.

Been in touch with a few other boats out here and everyone seems to have their issues. The fact is this huge distance is a massive punishment on any boat. If we get all the way over with a few lines to replace we’ll be happy.

Here’s a small thing.. I’m sat here writing this in the dark. We keep our watches set to the same time but as we’ve travelled so far, the watches I used to have in daylight are now in the dark. It’s crazy when you think we’ve sailed over a few time zones, I guess as you move so slowly you don’t think of that happening. No? Maybe just me then! :)

Day 19
We’ve got around 400 miles to go! Good winds and a swell that looks to finally calm after being with us the whole trip. Oh how we’re going to miss the boat rocking wildly, the sound of sails flogging, and trying to cook while your ingredients fly over your head.

We’ve seen more and more boats on AIS as everyone funnels towards the finishing line. You can feel quite alone at times but the reality is there are always boats around you. Still.. Feels good seeing them on the plotter and having a chat with a few of them.

Our reefing issue persists. We’ll get that fixed when arrive but for now we’ve took to dropping the mainsail at night and using just the gib. This is working fine and while we’re not going to win any awards for speed we’re safe and still covering 120-150 miles per day.

So.. three days to go! Have to say the excitement is building! We’re almost in the Caribbean!

Day 22
Land ho!

We’re about two miles from land. Being at sea for just over three weeks really amplifies the emotions that’s for sure. We’re as excited as kids waiting for Christmas Day as these last miles tick down.

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Such an amazing feeling knowing we’re going to make it! Still can’t quite believe we’ve just crossed the Atlantic Ocean, just the two of us, in this little boat.

Had more sail issues over the last two days, another car broke on the main so we dropped it and we’re under the jib only. There’s also been no wind at all so we were moving so slowly we wanted to cry! After 24 hours of this we turned on the engine and motored the last 250 miles. We arrived with vapours left.

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Looking forward now to sleeping for more than three hours at a time, a shower that doesn’t move, and to explore this amazing part of the world that’s opening up before us.