Friday 30 November 2012

ARC Day Three

It is 7.30 pm and I am sitting at the cockpit table in the dark wearing my head torch and writing on my laptop.  The wind has dropped to 20 knots, the sea is calmer and Juno’s motion is rhythmic and soporific as we roll through the darkness at a gentle 8 knots. Pools of bright white phosphorescence glow in our wake and then fade as they are consumed by the dark water. 

Thursday 29 November 2012

ARC Day Two

It doesn’t get better than this. Standing at the helm I can feel Juno alive under the wheel as she surfs along at 9 knots in 20 knots of wind.  From horizon to horizon there is nothing but sea, sparkling white crests tumbling over inky blue. The sea conditions are easier today as the dominant north easterly wind lines up the waves in formation and they parade under us on their journey west, pushing our stern off course and requiring a gentle touch on the helm to correct our turn and send Juno surfing down the back of the wave, her bow nosing forward, eager to respond to the demands of the rudder. I flex my fingers to keep my touch light on the wheel, feeling the wind on the back of my neck. 

Wednesday 28 November 2012

ARC Day One

This is our first full day at sea since the start of the ARC and in the last 24 hours we have covered exactly 198 miles. A 200 mile day is considered a very good pace for a yacht so we are really pleased with our progress. Andrew is helming and he has a great feel for the boat, I wonder if it is because he has soft hands developed from riding horses. 

Monday 26 November 2012

ARC night before the start

At last we are leaving, tomorrow morning at 11am. We have had a relaxing couple of days and everyone seems rested and well prepared for the start. We had drinks on board Fabiola this evening with Gill and Lisa and their family and then went for an early dinner. In the middle of supper the heavens opened and we had a torrential downpour as the cold front passed over and now it is blowing from the northeast, perfect for tomorrow.

Sunday 25 November 2012

ARC Pre-start

For only the second time in the history of the ARC the start has been delayed due to bad weather. We are now leaving on Tuesday 27th November. Nothing too alarming, but the weather forecast today is for 20 knots from the South gusting up to 30 knots with heavy rain as the cold front comes through at dusk this evening. As the ARC is primarily a rally for cruisers and family boats the start has been postponed to Tuesday when we are forecasting 20 knots from the North East, perfect conditions for a downwind start. The Racing division will be starting this morning and anyone else who wants to start today is allowed to go, but we have decided to stay until Tuesday, along with most of the fleet.

Friday 16 November 2012

Las Palmas

We are in Muelle Deportivo, the large marina in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, where the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers starts on November 25th at midday and ends around 17 days later in Rodney Bay on the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. There are 150 ARC boats already in the marina with another 100 or so still to come and there is a buzz in the air. The pontoons are covered with assorted paraphernalia in varying stages of assembly ranging from outboard motors and engines parts to bicycles, push chairs and life rafts.

Monday 12 November 2012


The sun is setting over the western horizon and the lighthouse on the rocks sternly points its finger of light which intensifies as the minutes pass and the darkness gathers. Fatty is in the galley and I am sitting in the warm glow of the saloon lights, San Miguel in one hand, keyboard in the other. The Canary Islands are a barren group of volcanic rocks, dropped into the deep Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. The Canary islanders by contrast are delightful and friendly almost as if to make amends for the aggressive geography that they inhabit.