ARC+ ahead of us
We slowly get back into the groove. It is normal again that “right” means starboard and the kitchen is called galley. Our German speaking share is decreasing while English is becoming more common. We begin to enjoy life on board and are now very happy that we have switched to a cat – and especially to a Leopard. Seems to be the perfect ship for us.
It moves differently than on a monohull, but it is very reassuring for both of us, the light movements. Especially at night, when we spend the night in the comfortable owner’s hull or hunt mosquitoes. Everyday life becomes more maritime with every new day. Next to us is a canarian fisherman. When he has had a good day, he gives us a few fish, which we put on the BBQ in the evening. So here we are again, back to the sailor life.
Now lets about our plans. We have already told you that we want to sail the ARC+. The Atlantic Rally for Cruiser was founded in 1986 by Jimmy Cornell and has been the largest sailing regatta/rally in the world for years.
Every November two mega rallies start in Las Palmas: the ARC+: Las Palmas-Cape Verde-St. Lucia. Normally it has about 90 ships. The bigger ARC (without plus) sails about 200 ships. There it goes directly the 3.000 nm from Las Palmas to St. Lucia – without stop. In this fleet you can find everything that floats. From a Volvo Ocean Racer to a 32 foot vintage vessel.
This year everything is different and much more reduced and that’s why we are there. Corona has left its mark and two thirds of the starters have dropped out and postponed their start until next year. Understandably, if you take a year off like most ARC sailors, it’s nicer without additional handicaps. This year only 27 (ARC+) and 65 (ARC) starters see things differently. Our 27 ships come from 12 countries, 6 of them from Norway and of course only one from Luxembourg 🙂
The “Rivercafe” is now located in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at the jetty of the ARC+ participants. Every day more ships arrive and slowly this special atmosphere of a sailing rally, which we already enjoyed at the Barbados 50, is developing. During the day the ARC+ flags flutter on the ships and in the evening the smell of different food wafts over the jetty.
Everyone is working on their vessels, making preparations for the trip or resting from the journey to the Canaries. The crews chat to each other, tell each other about their plans and exchange experiences and tips. Where do you get provisioning from, which chandlery is good or does the sailmaker still have time to take a job? In the evening we have a drink together and get to know each other better.
It is an intensive phase with lots of work. To find the right craftsmen or the necessary spare parts, that costs a lot of time and commitment. But it nice and worth the effort for the goal of the Caribbean and a safe crossing to hang in. The three weeks of preparation will fly by. And every now and then a strong wind in the marina reminds us that it is not always so relaxed out there.
There is still a lot to be done on board of Rivercafe as well. It’s good to see that the list is getting shorter every day. Our most important defect, the miserably mounted winches, are done. We can set sails safely again. Now all that remains are the things that our shipyard forgot. But the handling with Leopard and the release of the work was pleasantly uncomplicated in the end.
In Las Palmas there are quite competent naval technicians and craftsmen. Some of the work that was still being waved off in Tenerife is being done here. Maybe this is also due to the special Corona circumstances, because fewer yachts fill the order books.
We use the excellent infrastructure to convert or supplement a few things on the vessel. The outer upholstery that Leopard promised us will not be delivered after all. Well, we did not expect that they get it done. And isn’t it silly to have cushions for a ship from South Africa made in the USA and then send them halfway around the world to the Canary Islands? Not an application the the Carbon Footprint Award.
It’s a good thing that an upholsterer from Gran Canaria now produces everything for us. Good for Sunny and George, the craftsmen – and good for the environment. How nice that we don’t have to sit 3,000 nm on hard polyester – it looks like orange peel and also feels rather numb. The first cushions have now been made and it is like a new ship.
Unlike our first double handed crossing, this time five of us will sail across the Atlantic. Our friends Jana and Toni will join us and then “our” Gary will accompany us. We are extremely happy about that. Gary was our delivery captain who sailed the Rivercafe from Cape Town to the Canary Islands. Nobody knows our ship better and nobody could introduce us better to the sailing secrets of the “Rivercafe”. Gary is a super guy and we have become really good friends in a short time. I guess we talked Gary until he had bloody ears and couldn’t say no anymore. At the end of the month he will fly from South Africa to us again.
The starting signal for us is the 8.11. at 1 p.m. Funnily enough, the Vendee Globe in Sable d`Olonne starts the same day, but of course this is a completely different calibre. I can recommend everyone to follow this regatta. These are heroic stories.
Before the ARC, the preparations and our route I will tell you more next time. Hopefully our fisherman next door has a good catch today / Holger Binz