It's a ra.. ra.. rally. Safety first
11 November 2018 | Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
We are making our final preparations for the start at 1245 today and had lots of messages coming in from friends and family mostly saying "be safe". We've been joking all week, but in a serious way, that this is a rally not a race and safety has been at the top of our agenda over the last year since we entered for the ARC.
We were one of the few boats to pass the detailed safety inspection first time on Monday this week but this wasn't a huge surprise as we have a well prepared boat and an experienced crew.
The inspection not only covered detailed items such as the condition of lifejackets, emergency satellite beacons, emergency steering etc but it also included a conversation with me as skipper talking through how we might handle emergency scenarios such as man overboard or problems such as contamination of a water tank.
A year ago we had nearly 100 items on our "to-do" list covering items for Offbeat for safety, communications, navigation, power and water, sailing improvements, provisioning and comfort.
On the safety side we've added an extra chest high lifeline round the cockpit to make it extremely difficult to fall off. We have jackstays (webbing ropes), all around the deck which we clip our harnesses onto when on deck. We have fitted a second autopilot in case the primary one fails and an emergency tiller. We've fitted a preventer to control the boom when sailing downwind. We've climbed the rig to check it's all in A1 condition. We have spare halliards, rigging, sailcloth and tools to repair failures to the rig or sails. We've added a second set of navigation lights. We now have 2 EPIRBs, emergency position-indicating radiobeacon station, which communicate via satellite in the case of emergency, plus a Yellowbrick tracker (which has simple SMS style messaging and alerting and is used to provide the positions on the ARC website). Our lifejackets (which we always wear at night or when it's windy enough to reef the sails) also all have man-overboard beacons. These set off an alarm if someone did end up in the water and provide the position back to the boats chartplotters (of which we have 3!). There are many other small details but this provides a flavour of the additions.
We also had items for preparing the crew. We agreed that all the crew would do 10-14 days each on the delivery trip (Lucy did the Channel and Biscay, Mike and Sarah sailed from Spain, Portugal, Madeira to the Canaries). Although we all have 30 years yacht sailing and ownership experience we also did more training before we arrived in Las Palmas (Sea Survival courses, engine maintenance and first aid) and we've attended more lectures put on this week by World Cruising (the ARC organisers).
All in all we are confident that we have the right boat and a great crew to undertake this fantastic adventure. We had finished most of our preparations a couple of days so we've been able to enjoy the evening parties including the Rio evening on Wednesday (Rio isn't on the itinerary!), the Farewell party on Friday and last night's fireworks display.
We'll keep posting on the trip. Watch out for a possible Facebook live stream of the start on the Facebook page at 1240 today.
Best wishes to all our family, friends and supporters. We love reading the comments.
David, Anne-Laure, Lucy, Mike and Sarah