We are with over 200 boats in the ‘Muelle Deportivo de Las Palmas’ in Gran Canaria. Most of the boats here are on ARC too and everyone is very busy preparing so there is quite an atmosphere of activity. We are also on a pontoon with lots of other boat families, so there are plenty other children to keep our boys entertained and the kids club every day 9am-1.30pml. This is VERY useful as there are so many things we need to do to get ready for our Atlantic crossing.
Safety is a big issue for an ocean crossing, and the ARC we are going with are very focused on making sure we are prepared. Firstly, it’s important to have the right safety equipment; there is a lot we need to ensure everyone is as safe as possible. These include life rafts, life jackets, and tethers to tie us onto the boat. The technology available is astounding too, and gives me a lot of peace of mind. We will all have AIS (automatic identification system) beacons attached to our life jackets that will send an emergency vhf signal on our position if we fall in the water. Satellite phones that send us weather information and a tracking system called Inreach that can track where the boat is which can be seen online. We have also been getting some training on safety procedures, helicopter rescues and first aid.
Repairs and Maintenance
Repairs and maintenance seem to be never ending. Things are constantly breaking which can get demotivating – even the toilet seat and the buttons on the cupboard doors. The glass door on the oven also shattered with only 3 days before we go, this was be difficult to fix in a short time frame. We did find a replacement from the local chandlery. I have discovered that constant repairs are normal for people living on boats. On our trip from Gibraltar to Lanzarote we got 5 rips in the main sail; Another boat we sailed down with also got rips in their main sail and genniker sail. Other things we’ve had to do include replacing bulbs on mast lights, changing engine oil and oil filters, fixing safety netting on the sides of the boat. Neil was hoisted up the 60 foot mast to add a tricolour light to help us to be identified during the night.
The laundry also needs to be done before we leave. Laundry is definitely one of my least favourite tasks especially as the self service laundry is a 10 minute walk away and costs 8 euros, but this definitely beats washing clothes for 5 people on a camping washing machine that only takes a 3kg load of clothes at a time. As we will be away for 3 weeks we need to make sure all bedding and clothes are washed and ready to go. Although it will be warm on the way to the Caribbean we will need warmer clothes for the night watches.
One of my main jobs is to provision for the Atlantic crossing. Different things to consider are what to buy, how much, where can we store it, and where can we fit the rubbish afterwards.
I am writing lots of lists in to figure out what we might need. I rarely prepare any meals in advance; this makes provisioning for the crossing particularly difficult. At home I would usually decide what I was making for dinner just before I made it, or maybe decide on the way home from work and pop into Scotmid to get some ingredients…and wine. What I need to do is assume the best and worst case scenarios in regards to provisioning. The worst – it takes us over 4 weeks to get across instead of 3 and we run out of food. The best – the children eat all the vegetables that I have calculated we need (fresh and tinned) and we don’t need to throw any away. How many cans of Pringles can 5 people go through in 4 weeks? My calculations say 21 but we do have Finlay and Neil on board!
A lot of the supermarkets deliver to the boat, which is extremely helpful. There are some large supermarkets here which should have everything we need. Space is limited so where do we put all the food? In Gibraltar I spent 2 hours trying to find space for all the food Neil bought for a 5 day passage (He got a bit over excited in the Morrisons that he found) So we are going to have to make sure everything is extremely efficiently packed.
We will also accumulate a lot of rubbish on the way. Since we would never drop any rubbish in the ocean the plan is to remove all useless packaging beforehand. We will still have some plastic and tins to dispose of. When we are on our way these will be squashed to as small as possible and hidden away in the bilge (the compartment under the floor in the cabin). St Lucia will have recycling facilities when we get there.
The ARC has some great courses to prepare all crew for the trip – these include dealing with emergencies, rigging, navigation and weather. These are on all week, very useful but mixing in boat preparations can be difficult. Our extra crew member Dawn has arrived, she has been great in helping us prepare – and keeping the boys entertained (I mean hyper).
But we are getting there, Neil has a to do list on an app called Trello – keeping us informed with what needs done. We also need to make sure we get in some socialising; free drinks and parties are on all week. It’s been tough but we’ll just need to manage.
The last couple of days has been quite stressful making sure we have remembered everything and finished all our preparations. I am hoping once we are on our way we can start to relax again and enjoy the journey.