We arrived in Las Palmas on 27th September almost 2 months before the start of the ARC. We felt this gave us time to fly home to see friends and family and to add the final essential equipment to Kindred Spirit in preparation of our longest trip to date, 2800 miles across the Atlantic. We begun with a job list and shopping list but as we cross one item off we found another two jobs that needed attention.
But first we had a few days of fun, sun and Sangria with friends from Portsmouth cardiology. Alison Christine and Lisa had planned this visit even before I had left work in March. They joined us on KS on Saturday 7th October, we sat and chatted and talked and and laughed. Geoff did some knot training with Alison and was then sent to the supermarket to buy lunch and wine. Soon the afternoon became evening and we decided to eat at the Sailors Bay, a small bar in the marina. Tuna pizza was very much appreciated after drinking all afternoon. In fact Lisa enjoyed it so much she ordered a second! The ladies caught a taxi back to their hotel and needless to say the next day was a late start. We decided that the dinghy needed a run so us the four ladies had the task of inflating and launching the dinghy from KS. No problem except we broke the pump. We then spent a couple of hours motoring and rowing around the marina. A few refreshing drinks were enjoyed on deck and we were joined by Nick and Fiona Rawbone from yacht NoStress, a couple we had met on our SSB radio course earlier in the year. We all decided to eat out at a lovely fish restaurant near the ladies hotel. Our visitors flew home on Monday 9th so we joined them one last time for Tapas lunch and returned to KS to begin the chores. It was lovely to see them and chat about things other than shackles and generators.
Over the next two, weeks in between jobs, we ate with Nick and Fiona many times. Nicks BBQ skills are amazing, tender steaks, juicy chicken and spicy prawns. We chatted and drunk wine but also played cards, we taught them 7’s and they taught us Onze.
During our crossing to Porto Santo we had run the generator and attempted to use the microwave but although it was powered it was not heating food. The generator is one of our main source of battery charging so it was first on our list to fix. With a little bit of investigation we identified that the generator was only producing 60-100v not the required 240v. We had no spares so contacted Rolnautic who sent out an engineer within 3 days who confirmed the problem and suggested a capacitor problem. Luckily for us it was a €5 capacitor that was required and not a €6000 new generator.
Another major problem was the head of the sail that had chaffed through the tape attaching the track car. We spoke with North sails UK and arranged for the repair to be completed in Las Palmas by Alisios. We also decided to put in a 4th reefing point in the main due to a couple of times even with 3 reefs in the main KS was still making >9knots. For the non sailors a reef in the main is a method of reducing the sail area when the wind is strong.
We flew home on 19th Oct, this was to be our last trip home before we leave for the Caribbean so we wanted to catch up with as many friends and family as possible. the first evening we spent with my mum, it would have been mum and dads 61st anniversary so we had a couple of drinks remembering special times. Joanna and Andy were down for the weekend so we spent the days with them and visiting Susanna and Kate ending in a lovely takeaway Chinese. The next day we had a lovely walk along Southsea seafront and roast dinner at home, with mum Callum, Jo and Andy. We then said an emotional goodbye to Jo and Andy, we may not see them until next July, thank goodness for phones and satellites. On Tuesday we met up with Sally, Edward and Gavin for a curry at the Bombay bay. Wednesday we had lunch at Spice Island with Geoff’s siblings, Rita, Lynda and Bryan and in the evening we met up with some friends from QA at the Churchillian. Thursday was dentist shopping and Hair. Friday I popped into QA to catch up with some other chums it was great to chat and hear all the news. Friday evening Sam and Paul treated us to takeaway curry at our house we were joined by Matt Alice, Sam, Paul, Mum, Callum, Sue, Ian, Michael and Lorraine. Saturday evening was spent with Simon and Claire who are do a fantastic job helping to look after 49 Brecon We went to Zaynes for our 3rd curry in 5 days. We didn’t mind as there are none (or very few) curry’s offered in Las Palmas. Sunday was our last day in UK so we saw my mum and said an emotional farewell.
Matt drove us to Gatwick hotel as our flight was early Monday morning, we stopped on the way for lovely pub food. We finally said goodbye to Matt about 9 pm but he will be in canaries in couple of weeks to join us on the Atlantic crossing. We had managed to meet up with many of our friends and family during our time in UK but missed popping into Locks sailing club. We will makes sure we call in on our next visit home. On 30th October we flew back to warm sunny Las Palmas from cold grey London. When we reached the marina it was obviously more alive with double the amount of ARC flags and a yachts in every berth.
As most long distance sailors will say energy generation is paramount. We have 12v Battery that need to be charged and although we now have a fully functioning generator, a wind generator and a couple of small solar panels we felt the need for more. We had ordered a new 150w solar panel that was to be fitted during our first week back. It may not look to impressive but as soon as it was connected the output from solar tripled.
On Thursday 2nd Nov in the morning Bob and Claire came to KS to help with changing a handset on our SSB radio and wiring in the GPS to pactor modem. The job was quite tricky but after a few hours and some lovely chat the work was successfully completed and this was con firmed with a radio check at 08:15 the following day. My dad was a amateur radio enthusiast and would have loved to have chatted with us.
Friday we were finally able to check in and receive our ARC information pack we went to the ARC opening party and the ARC+ leaving party where we met up with some friends we had met along the way and some new ARC participants. The entertainment band was very good but too loud so we were unable to chat easily to fellow sailors.
Over the next few days we prepared the boat for our safety inspection booked for Monday 6th Nov 9am.
Some of the other things we have sorted
- 3 new Halyards
- Davit repair
- Lanyards washboards fitted
- Sail cover repair
- Fitted emergency steering
- Filled up the tanks with diesel and 60 lts in cans.
- New Fans
- Service bilge pumps
- Wired in radar
- Practice using pressure cooker.
- Practice making bread
- Sail repair
On Sunday 6th Nov we spent the morning ensuring all the safety equipment was ready for tomorrow mornings inspection. We popped out to say goodbye to Pete and Jan in Twenty Twenty as they are in the ARC + rally that travels to St Lucia but via Cape Verde. The next time we will see them will be in Dec in St Lucia. As they made their way to the start line we walked about 3 miles along the coast wall to watch them start, they were a little line shy. We walked back to KS stopping for a snack at Sailors Bar and continued our preparation.
The next morning Andrew from the ARC inspection team arrived at KS at 9am. We felt like school children waiting for a end of term report. He asked about our travels so far and about our plans for the future. Geoff went into great depths to explain our journey I was just glad Andrew didn’t mention radar. The inspection went well with no problems and just a couple of tie wraps and a longer piece of string was all that was required. Andrew left about 10:30 giving Kindred Spirit the go ahead for the ARC crossing and Geoff and i breathed a giant sigh of relief.
After the relief of the inspection we decided to have a half day sight seeing trip, all organized by ARC team. We joined a small group and visited historical Las Palmas , 2 castles and Columbus museum and back to the marina via an open top bus. We had lunch at club Varadero and joined for 1 week that gave us access to the restaurant and swimming pool.
Thursday started with a full day of seminars from managing emergencies, rigging, two handed sailing, weather, emergencies and finally downwind sailing. We found them really informative and worthwhile attending. We had invited Bob and Claire for pre sundowner drinks so hurried back to the boat.
Friday 10th Nov was spent polishing stantions and generally preparing the boat for the arrival of Gavin tomorrow. Gerry the rigger called in at 5 and completed a pre ARC rig check and we passed with no problems. We missed the Fiesta on Friday but felt happy that we were ready for the Atlantic.
Gavin arrived at 7 Saturday evening and joined us for Sun downers and tuna pizza at sailors bar. as well as a few bits of clothing Gav delivered my recent Salisbury online shop.
The following day was Geoff’s 57th birthday so we decided to take a break from boat preparation and joined in the opening ceremony parade. We joined 30 other nations carry national flags through the marina.
The next day we were back at work with Gav down the front hatch and covered in dust. Over the next 3 days they managed to fill a hole then drill another and finally fit the new windlass ready for pacific island anchoring.
During the last week we finally had our mainsail returned with the necessary repair and 4th reef added. We ordered and took delivery of essential water and meat. Thursday we caught a taxi to Hyperdino and filled up with non perishable, I hope the crew like pasta. We spent the afternoon removing paper labels and stowed lots of tins under the floor. Friday we left Gav at the launderette while we walked to the market for the fresh veg. All fruit and veg was washed in a mild Milton fluid before drying and put in the nets.
Matthew arrived at lunch time on Friday although we missed lunch to continue work. While fitting the new Lewmar windlass we discovered that the float switch on the auto bilge pump in the anchor locker was broken so a new replacement was bought and fitted.
There was a farewell party laid on by the ARC team but we were happy to have paella at the sailors bar and a few games of cards on the boat.
Our last day in Las Palmas was busy with ensuring everything on KS was stowed for the trip, we checked out and went to the skippers briefing. Dinner was on the steak and jacket potato on the boat.
St Lucia here we come, don’t forget to follow us on yellow brick tracker and you can see our race progress on the YB tracker app and download the ARC 2017 race.
See you all in St Lucia