Every year some boat owners decide to take a professional skipper or crew on the ARC. This provides extra experience and knowledge, especially for a new boat owner or family crew. World Cruising Club Corporate Members pyd are working with two sets of ARC owners this year, and probably many more for the return voyage back from the Caribbean.
Professional yacht delivery company pyd has many years of ARC experience - as well as providing skippers and crews for boats every year, owner Mark Matthews has sailed the rally twice on his own boat, a Sweden Yachts 45.
pyd pro-skippers Bryan Walker and Stewart Coultous have many years experience and 353,000 delivery miles logged between them. Over a cup of tea on new Oyster 625 Bandido, Bryan and Stewart passed on some of their tips for making a safe passage.
(photo left - Stewart Coultous and Bryan Walker on Bandido in Las Palmas)
"The first thing to do when getting down to your boat is to have a good look around" said Bryan. "Does she look 'right'? Walk around the deck looking at the rig and deck gear carefully (Jerry's 10 minute rig check is a good idea), then go below. Is there anything in the bilges - water or oil? Any damp patches? Are the batteries holding charge?" Stewart adds: "Before you start the engine, check it over for oil or water leaks. If you know a filter needs to be changed, then this is a good time to do it. Start the engine and run up the revs out of gear - does the exhaust run properly, or are the gasses black? Drop the revs back and gently engage forward, then stern gears to check that everything is working properly. If anything is amiss, then stop and work out what the problem is - it's always easier to fix ashore than at sea!"
"It's a good idea to carry out these checks every day on passage" continues Bryan "We make it part of the watch change system - the on-coming watch completes the log book with the boat's position, course, speed and weather observations, then checks the engine, bilges and electrics. That way they are prepared when they come on watch, and the checks get done regularly. Even making a formal check once a day will save time and money in the long-term."
"We always like to return the boat in a better condition than we find it" says Stewart "That means protecting the varnish, stainless and upholstery with plastic padding, and having strict rules about taking off wet-weather gear, and where you allow liquids on the boat - drink your coffee in the galley or on deck! Seriously, giving the deck gear like blocks, clutches, furling drums, winches and lines a proper wash-off in fresh water not only helps them to last longer (salt corrodes), but also enables you to have a good close look at any chafe and wear; catching problems before they happen." (photo left shows Bryan at Bandido's nav station - all the varnished wood is protected)
And the last tip for keen fishermen: "Before you bring the fish onboard, wash down the decks to stop the blood sticking, and keep washing away the blood with buckets of water - a deck shower is great for this. If you've got a sugar scoop transom, you don't even have to bring the fish on deck; but make sure you're clipped onto the boat!"