ARC Preparations and Imminent Departure (hopefully) – 26th November 2012

 

Well it may be a surprise to a few of you that you are receiving this update but here we are still in Las Palmas.  Due to a heavy swell from the North and strong winds from the south the ARC decided to postpone the departure date till Tuesday 27th November.  A change of leaving date has only ever occurred once in the 27 years of the ARC.  50 boats did leave on the original date with 15 cruisers and the rest racers.

So what have the preparations been like? Well, expensive is always a word that springs to mind first.  We have had to spend another €1,500 on kitting Troskala with emergency antennas, flares, spares, marina fees, satellite credit, food & water.

We have stocked the boat with 400 liters of water, 140 liters of fuel, 70 tinned fruits and meats, 40 liters of milk, 72 cans of coke, a weeks worth of fresh fruit and vegetables, 30 toilet roles and the rest that I cannot remember.  We have also brought an advent calendar, a small very tacky Christmas tree and Santa hats.  To pass the time we have brought kindles, films on the lap top (3000) and travel games. Again Troskala has managed to eat within her lockers all our food and water leaving us with space to still move around the deck and below.  Her deep bilges have taken all our drinks and water and keep them reasonably cool.  We have not had to put anything on deck that may be subject to come loose or tear off in bad weather.

I have found the two weeks here quite stressful.  We did not go to the seminars in the first week, which was a mistake as the seminars are repeated the second week but in the second week you are always going to be busy dealing with boat issues and tracking down parts so some seminars were missed. The help and support from my Dad who came to Gran Canaria to help with the preparations was invaluable and words cannot describe the thanks and appreciation I have.  The crew were also a great help and stayed through the night on one occasion cleaning tins and stocking up the boat due to a late order; we have to also thanks Will’s Mum for her assistance that night.  Carlotta has been a pillar of support even though she is not doing the ARC.  She has sorted out the majority of our food supplies keeping the guys in check and putting up with my stressed mood swings.

When you mention the ARC to other sailors that basically always say you drink a lot and that is very true.  With all the free parties arranged by the ARC and then drinking on other boats and in the ‘Sailors Bar’ you soon consume your yearly alcohol in –take in two weeks; my liver needs a break for 21 days.  We still feel the ARC was a good decision and although some of the seminars are communicating horrendous incidents and what would happen if: you fell over board, struck an object, had to abandon the boat, got an infection, had a fire, died etc. they are also very informative and some of the information bestowed would not have necessarily been though about prior to attending these seminars.  I also had the chance to experience what it is like in a life raft, how to right a capsized life-raft and experience of letting of flares.

The temperature here is not 28 degrees and the weather is glorious After looking at the weather in the UK there is a vast difference so I hope all of you living in the UK get some sunshine before the year is out.

In regards to our passage we have decided to keep a northerly track across the Atlantic, as the Azores high is more north than normal.  Hopefully we will be able to head more south in the second week all being well.  I believe the trip will take us 21 days and hopefully we can make St Lucia by the 18th.

Well, that is all for now but I will communicate another blog in St Lucia.  If you would like to see where we are and what we are doing please use the ‘Fleet Tracker’ for the ARC on the World Cruising Website.

For those of you who we will not speak too before Christmas have a great Christmas and New Year and I look forward to informing you all of our progress and experience.

Best wishes,

Oliver

 

Tracking Troskala Across the Atlantic – Information

Troskala is officially the smallest yacht taking part in ARC 2012

So, we only have 8 days to go.  Tim and Will have now made it to Las Plamas and the preparations are well underway.  As Carlotta will not be joining us on this trip she will be updating the website with any news on our trip and to answer any comments.  If any of you are really bored you can see our real-time position by clicking on the below link and selecting ‘Fleet Viewer’.  You will see our position in the Atlantic, our speed and where we are in relation to other boats.

We expect to be at sea for 21-24 days arriving in St Lucia by the 18th or near that point.  I will be posting a couple more posts before we leave with photos showing the preparations but if you also click on the gallery page in the ARC website you will sea some photos of the parties we have been attending.

Click on below link and select Fleet Viewer.  This will be live on the 25th November

http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/

 

Madeira to Las Palmas – 08th November 2012

The time had finally arrived to leave Quinta do Lorde.  After being stuck here for two weeks we have grown to like the place more that we did in the last post, therefore it is important to mention the good points about the Quinta do Lorde resort.  I do think that when the resort is competed it will be a fantastic location for both sailors and people wanting to relax.  The fact that the resort is set out-of-the-way, this only makes it better for tranquility you experience.  They have a fantastic swimming pool and rock pool and if the weather had been better we would have made more use of both.  Both Catia and Nicole were extremely polite and helpful throughout our stay and we were always welcome with a smile.  To have an internet room on site was also fantastic and even if we were stuck there we could still use the time to update family and friends.

Anyway, back to the trip and my apologies for being so late in my post.  We have now arrived at Las Palmas and have been swamped with jobs to do and safety inspections to pass, but we will save that for another post.

We had a farewell dinner with friends.  We are finding that the problem with cruising is that you meet such lovely people but we always have to go our separate ways.  We were going to miss Tim, Natalie, Kane and April a lot as they had been such great company.  We did promise to meet up in Las Palmas and I do hope we can share our farewell together.

We left Quinta do Lorde at 10:30 and timed it so that we would hopefully arrive into Las Palmas with some light.  The weather was relaxed although we hit  massive squall with thunder about 20 miles out.  I have never seen the sea turn white before with the amount of rain falling on it. The squall lasted around 15 minutes and we were truly soaked.  The wind died after and we had to motor an hour before it picked up.  We tried to do 3 hour shifts this time as it was again just the two of us and although this worked for the first night we would get extremely tired the second night and day.  In the end we were both sleeping but with the person using a timer set to ring after 20 minutes to do a check on shipping.

 

The wind was maintained at 20- knots and we were able to sail most of the journey but the last day gave us confused seas and a bumpy ride. We saw Gran Canaria at 15:00 hours on the 10th November.  we were in the marina at 19:00 after checking in but both of us were shattered and realise just how hard it is to sail with just two of us, but we made it and survived again.

Miles: 297

Engine: 7 hours

Total Miles: 2,370

Lat: 28′ 07. 56

Lon: 15′ 25. 57

 

 

Stuck in Madeira – Change of Plan

So, the gods are not playing fair.  We will be staying another two days in the prison camp and not departing until Wednesday.   The wind is one moment giving 30 knots and then nothing after checking only a few hours later. I will have gone mad by the time we leave this place.  We have decided to get a few boat jobs done tomorrow and Tuesday if the rain ever stops falling.

 

 

 

The blue is rain

Madeira – 26th October to 04th November

 

 

It is probably not the best time to write a blog as we have just finished with the marina office on a bad note; in fact we have finished with Madeira on a bad note so please take any criticism of the island I have with a pinch of salt but you will hear from the experience I have had why I have bitter thoughts towards the island.

As you will have seen from the previous posts we had a great sail to Quinta do Lorde and were welcomed with the knowledge of great electricians that would be eager to assist with our electrical faults.  One of the main reasons for coming to Madeira was to get our electrics replaced but as you may have gathered this is not the case.

The resort and marina at Quinta do Lorde has now been termed ‘The Prison Camp’.  It is a resort that has not yet been completed so no one is living here, it is literally in the middle of nowhere, and I am seriously not kidding.  It takes nearly two hours to get a bus to Funchal, the main city, that is if you are still alive after riding the coach, which is driven precariously over the narrow roads by a guy who only uses one hand to steer.  The showers are cold on most occasions and the floor so slippy that you can guarantee breaking your neck before arriving to the shower.  For all of this you pay 40 Euros a night for a 40ft boat and 28 Euros for a 26ft boat – not the cheapest marina in the world.

One night Carlotta and myself were making full use of the happy hour and the night had gone on so I was already a little tipsy by 21:00.  I went to the toilet only to be locked in for twenty minutes by the staff; if Carlotta had not come to find me I would have been there for much longer.

Coming to the pontoons.  Since arriving here we have not slept well.  The swell in this marina is shocking.  Troskala is constantly snatching at the warps not to mention the endless rubbing of warps throughout the boat.  Even with light winds there is still a swell and boats situated nearer to entrance have a hell of time.

In regards to the electrics – we had a guy come over very eager to measure the area for the new switch panels; this was Monday.  We heard back from him on Wednesday, where he asked us to select which panel we wanted, so we selected and awaited the quote – this never came.  We were then told the panel would be with us Friday (today) – it never arrived.  We were told that the plane could not land so the panels were not arriving, however, after spending a day in the office chasing the panels it materialized that they had never been ordered. We spent all day in the office arguing a bill of 1,500 euros for 16 switches; these are only 240 euros on-line.  They boat yard were basically wanting to rip us off royally. The ladies in the office did try to help the matter but with no success and only a small apology.  As a note do not use the yacht services at Quinta do Lorde, they are unreliable, expensive, not punctual and far from apologetic.  It is a shame for a new marina to get things so wrong.

You have two choices for marinas in Madeira, Funchal, which you have to pre-book as you will never get in if you turn up. Funchal is more expensive and dirty, the anchorage is not very well protected.  Quinta do Lorde is clean but for the reasons stated above this is a far from an ideal marina with a long way to go to provide any kind of good service, although they are trying.

The weather is another disappointment and I unfortunately I cannot blame Quinta do Lorde for that. We have had days of rain and heavy squalls, in fact, it has rained every day we have been here.  The humidity is 83% and nothing dries.   Every time we have walked one of the Levadas we have become drenched, with poor visibility along the way it is hard to see the vistas.  You need to hire a car if you want to get around, there is no doubt about that, but again be careful as one of the yachts managed to rent a car for 18 euros a day but another charged 80 euros a day.  I have caught a cold from being soaked day after day, which has not gone down well on my score system for Madeira.

I do have some good points to mention about Madeira as it would be completely unfair to leave on all negative points.  The Island is gorgeous.  It feels like being in another world when you are up in the mountains.  The people are friendly and the cuisine fantastic, especially the sea-food.  We had a great afternoon in Porto Moniz with April & Kane dining on sardines, squid and octopus, whilst over looking stunning mountains.  Madeira may not have beaches but what it lacks in sand it makes up in rock pools that are semi manmade.

If it were not for the weather and being let down by contractors I am sure my view would be more appreciative of this island but I cannot say I will be in a rush to come back.  For anyone who loves walking it is a must see but if you are reading this and planning to sail here in the near future, think again.

The day after addition to the blog:

Fantastic news! Last night a few yacht owners were talking about our plight and found a gentleman who lives on the island and also owns a yacht.  This gentleman (Harald) designed the original software for the ATM machine and has a vast knowledge of electrics.  In 10 minutes he had rectified the burning fuse issue, which was caused by a load on a negative terminal that should not have been there.  Harald then checked the rest of our electrics and continuity throughout the boat and basically said the system looks pretty good and there is no need to invest any more time and money into it.

So Troskala is ready to make the final leg to Gran Canaria but we are stuck for another day in Madeira and all being well we will depart tomorrow (05th November).