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Text: MULTIHULLS Magazine • May/June 2003
My Mum, Dad, brother and 75-year-old uncle were the crew on board for the Atlantic cross ing. The boats were at the start line of the ARC waiting for the gun to go. We had watched the yellow sails of the racing division disappear into the distance. I knew it would be a long time before I would feel solid earth under my feet again. On the first afternoon we were settling down to the sailing life, when an unpredicted squall came ripping through. Unfortunately, the squall was not the only thing ripping. We helplesslywatched as a panel in our Code 0 ripped to shreds. Most of the boats were affected by the storm and about a dozen turned back. We carried on with no intention of turning back, but remained alert for squalls. It was an interesting start to the rally.
A few uneventful days slipped by, but the seas remained confused and we got about three squalls a day. One day the waves were very large; in fact, so large that we had to put out our drogue anchor. The waves remained about 5 m high for two days. Luckily the drogue was doing a great job, well it was until it snapped. Not good. Dad had to whip something up pretty fast, so it was out with the rubber bucket and rope. That little bucket was great even though it did completely lose its shape after a few days under water! It was about a week later, Mum was listening to the S.S.B. for a weather update when a mayday call came through. A man had fallen over-board, leaving only one other man on board the yacht. Instantly, the network controller asked if there was anyone nearby. A yacht that was about 40 nm behind the casualty started to head for them. Also a vessel in front turned back and beat through the steep seas. The vessels did everything possible but sadly the man passed away, and was cast adrift attached to a life raft with an EPIRB. We were all shocked by the news and made sure our life jackets and harnesses were always on. On the S.S.B.it was also reported that a yacht in the A.R.C. called F2had lost its rudder… Luckily, a very big pirate shiplike vessel, called Tenacious had a perfect workshop on board and created a new one. Tenacious then shipped over the new rudder to F2. It fit perfectly, but two days later it fell off. The F2crew and their dog had to scuttle their fine new vessel and transfer to another boat to safely continue their journey.
The S.S.B. was not always the bringer of bad news; in fact, it was great! We got to talk to all the kids at 16:00 UTC.. All ds got to chat, collect vessel positions and find out how everyone was doing. The yacht Onskan(with kids Kit 6, Netty 9, and Victoria 12) suggested the net and really brought something to look forward to during those L-O-N-G days. To supplement food and to have a good time we did a lot of fishing on the trip. Dad’s fishing line was let out, this was the first time we had tried fishing, and suddenly the line pulled tight. Dad grabbed the rod, Mum grabbed the camera, our Uncle got the fish-gutting knife and Lorin and I grabbed the fish pacifier (aluminum baseball bat). The rod broke as Dad was reeling it in, bad quality rod, but after much work we heaved the 1-meter Dorado aboard! Blood got everywhere, but I have never tasted fish so fresh! We also went on to catch three more Dorado.
Lots of celebrations took place on the crossing – here are a few: This definitely is not a British thing, but Thanksgiving took place on the crossing. One American catamaran with kids on board told us about it on the kids net. They said that they brought extra provisions and made ‘Jello’ (Jelly in English) apple pie, strawberry cheese cake, chocolate sponge,etc. They even managed to fit a turkey in the fridge! Another celebration that took place was “halfway day.” This is a celebration for crossing the halfway point in the Atlantic. It was celebrated in all sorts of different ways, some kids got presents, some kids got to watch a DVD, but this is how we celebrated it. We all had to go to dinner in the cockpitwith something to do with the theme of–half. My Uncle was half-baggedand put himself half in and half out of a spinnaker bag. My brother came half awakeand wore his pajama top and a pair of shorts. Mum was half sailing babe half cruising babe, and wore her bikini top and wet weather trousers. Dad burnt a cork and made his face half black and half white.(This was done using the black ashes from the cork). I wrote a poem about halfway day and using lip chalk I divided my face in half. Then, as a surprise Mum produced two cold cansof coke and three cans of beer! Liquid gold! It was a fun dayand we got to have prunes and custard for pudding as a treat!
I got bored on the trip and parents could not use their trick, “Look at the lovely scenic view and be quiet!” Water was everywhere, so to entertain myself I read and completed ‘Lord Of The Rings,’ and I wrote a poetic log. TheARC had divided the Atlantic up into sea areas for the crossing and we had weather reports for each area every day. I wrote a limerick for each sea area and a poem of some event that happened in each sea area. There was a competition for illustrated logs and so I carefully drew pictures of the events and submitted it. At the finalARCparty I won a special prize for a children’s log. We did not do school on the crossing as Mum was too busy or too tired. The minutes seemed like hours as each day dragged by, but one afternoon a dark shape loomed in the distance – LAND! If I thought the trip was long, it was nothing in comparison. It was the longest four hours in my life, it seemed like we where doing two knots instead of nine. Finally we reached the finish line. The night had closed around us .The glittering lights of St. Lucia studded the hillside. We tacked, the first time on the whole trip, and crossed the line! Like stunned mullet we gaped at the land around us. Then we slipped into a nice berth and collapsed! A yacht called Mercator helped us with our lines and then took us out for drinks. Sleep soon kicked in and the Zazen crew slept well that night. —–