Wednesday 1 October 2014

World ARC Preparation

Another directorship resigned, another tie severed. It is now the start of October and only days until we leave the shores of Europe. However, I don’t feel excitement or relief, but instead butterflies in my stomach, reminiscent of the feeling of going back to boarding school on a Sunday evening. Despite my best efforts, there are still a thousand things to do before we leave Palma de Mallorca. But when I consult my list, I reassure myself that the important items will be completed and the rest aren’t essential to crossing oceans.

This blog entry is a catalogue of the preparation that we have completed. Not of great interest to many, but I feel the need to get it down in writing so here goes. The big important items have all been inspected, serviced and where necessary replaced. Working from the bottom of the keel upwards: The hull has been cleaned and anti-fouled. The skin-fittings have been checked, the seacocks greased, the anodes replaced. The prop shaft has been removed, polished and refitted with new bearings. The propeller has been cleaned and anti-fouled. The aqua drive that connects the propeller to the gearbox has been serviced and the loose fittings secured. The rudder bearings have been greased and the steering system checked.  The topsides have been polished. A spare autopilot has been fitted, isolated from the boats network in case a lighting strike takes out our electronics.  The autopilot motors have been serviced; the plastic gears replaced with bronze, the bushes replaced, a spare linear drive is on order.

The engine has been serviced, the heat exchanger cleaned and the cam belt has been replaced. The generator has been serviced and a long list of spares parts has been ordered. A new mainsail has been purchased and will be delivered to Gibralter, free of VAT – thanks Mervyn.  The headsails have been cleaned and serviced. The mainsail blocks and traveller have been checked and a new soft loop block has been fitted on the boom. The gooseneck fittings that have caused problems in the past, have been cleaned and re-painted, re-drilled with new helicoils and the machine screws have been secured with thread locker. The rig has been professionally surveyed, the mast chocks secured and the mast boot replaced. The mainsail furler gearbox has been serviced and the top swivel inspected and cleaned. The hydraulic backstay and vang seal have been inspected.  We have installed a new carbon bowsprit and a top down furler for our spinnaker, which is a joy to use and means that we can now use the spinnaker short handed.  The swivel on the anchor has been replaced with a high resistance shackle to make it easier to inspect, secured with seizing wire.

New batteries have been installed: 12 new 2 volt deep cycle cells for the domestic supply, red top start batteries for engine and generator, new batteries for the bow-thruster and windlass have been delivered, ready to install. Thirty LED interior lights have been ordered to replace the most frequently used halogen lights. This will save us a lot of power and significantly reduce the heat output down below. The water maker is being serviced with new filters, the high pressure pump oil has been changed and I have an extensive spares box to cover most eventualities.. The air conditioning system has been flushed and the pump has been serviced, the bronze impellor has been renewed. The winches and the windlass have all been serviced and the spares box is groaning with the weight of spare pawl gears.  The dock lines and shore power leads have been replaced, with extra tails to allow us to connect to US 110v, three phase, 16 amp and 63 amp sockets. A new bimini and spray hood have been fitted; both made of the new Weathermax fabric that is lighter and stronger.

All the safety equipment has been serviced, new flares have been acquired and a new mobile satellite phone is in the grab bag to chat with the coastguard if we ever find ourselves in the life raft. Fatty has overhauled the emergency grab bag and replaced all the consumable items. The main satellite antenna has been tested; the connectors, O rings and dome base are being replaced.  A new 4g antenna has been fitted on the spreaders, wired in to a mobile router that is connected into our communication system to give us cellular data access on our travels due to the poor availability of wifi. The outboard has been serviced, new davit lift wires, new lifting points on the rib and the steering system greased and serviced. 

This doesn't include the many cosmetic changes to make life at sea more comfortable such as new carpets, cushions, shelving, lighting, storage; the list goes on. Now I remember why I am a) exhausted and b) broke!  I am looking forward to the next few weeks when i will have some crew to share the load.

All this preparation has only been possible because of the amazing support from Oyster and many skilled shipwrights in the UK and in Palma.  Sarah Harmer, Paul Bennett, Mark Watkinson, Dee Rom, Eddie Scougall and Debbie Johnson from Oyster. Pierre, Dirk and Marcel from Palma Watch. Juan, Cristobal, Andres and Cico from Carpinser. Tony and Juan Pablo from Nautipaints. Rafa and Xisco from eNaval. Alex, the best polisher and my friend Rory who can turn his hand to anything.  Neil from Benchmark, Will from Yes, Peter from Oscar Sierra, Russ from RSB,  Charles and Nico from Mastervolt.  Udo and Timon who tenderly care for my engine and generator. Vincente who serviced the freezer in Naples and Javier who has tended to the fridge in Palma.  Pedro and Antonio from Elvstrom who service our sails and will be delivering a shiny new mainsail this week. Brett and Dee, in Fiji at the moment on an Oyster 72, sending me reports and advice along the way – hugely valuable.  We hope to meet up with them in the Whitsundays next July. That’s July 2015!

Fatty and I have been through the entire inventory, cataloguing everything, ordering parts, and just correcting things that we have learnt over the past three years.  We have also discovered that large bin liners make excellent operating gowns. 


  1. ....and we all thought you had been sunning yourself in the Med all summer! P

  2. Loving the updates! Keep them coming, in between the maintenance schedule, sangria, paella and sunshine. Loving the bin bag fashion. Take care A and S xx