The crossing team –Jack, Curtis, Mark and I – arrived Las Palmas on Thursday with the rally start scheduled for Sunday at two. Our greeting party was Paul the ever present instrument guru who the last person off the Grateful Red leaving Charleston for Europe. Always instrument issues but the good news …….. Pat the refrigerator repair man from California had flown to Valencia, Spain spending four twelve hour days fixing the refrig. There would be cold beer on the crossing. Plus all the frozen food flew through customs into the refrig.
After nights of strategy meetings the boat was ready. Each boat participating in the ARC passed a fancy photo shoot as the boat left harbor ……. except the Grateful Red. As we are backing out of the slip the throttle cable comes loose. We have no sails and no motor. After much commotion a couple of inflatables pull the Grateful Red to out of the harbor to the starting area bypassing the photo shoot. A memorable start!
First couple of days were light winds but soon the trades came around and we were flying.
Days of spinnaker sailing – surfing waves on a run at 12 knots and nights we were wing on wing, reefed main anticipating the nightly squall. Nothing like a thirty degree wind shift in a squall to get one’s attention at night. Did determine the weakest point of the boom preventer is the bale at the end of the boom – one unexpected gybe and the bale was gone. Terrific sailing, good company, great meals (Donna’s brownies had so much butter one could spread them – they were terrific) and plenty of cold beer. Soon we were thinking that we could beat the Columbus crossing time of 18 days (Columbus did four crossing to America but only three to Europe – the locals killed him on trip four. Maybe that is why three is a charm).
Suddenly as the trades kicked up to 15 to 25 knots the winds died to a few knots or less. Three hundred miles left on a 3,000 mile journey and we doing a couple knots an hour. Two nights we dropped the sails, had a couple of aperitifs and went to bed floating with the one knot current.
On day twenty we were fifty miles from St. Lucia with enough diesel to motor fifty miles. We motored for eight hours and sailed the last few miles on a St.Lucia land breeze. Unlike the other ARC participants the Grateful Red had our own welcoming committee at the finish line. The land crew – Bridgette, Cissy, Kristine, Donna and Donna and Curtis’s two sons – Aiden and Quinn were at the finish line in a motorized inflatable to welcome the Grateful Red crew to St. Lucia. We were probably the only boat out of 225 competitors that had land crew in a motorized dinghy to meet us at the finish line. A terrific finish to the ocean crossing.
Aiden and Quinn are convinced that dark hulled boat in the distance is Grateful Red
And…it is! Here is Grateful Red crossing the finish of the 2011 ARC
Land crew greeting the Grateful Red and Crew out at the finish line!
Aiden and Quinn give “thumbs-up” to their Dad and the rest of the crew