With the ARC start now less than 48 hours away participants are beginning to switch gears focus on the last stage of preparations. While the work of the past days and weeks has focused on everything from big ticket fixes, sail changes, maintenance projects and canned provisioning, now just the final touches are required for the start on Sunday. Crate after crate of fresh foods and perishable have begun appearing all along the docks, with crew members systematically de-boxing, washing and stowing all sorts kinds of fruits and vegetables. On one boat it appeared an entire annual yield of oranges was left out in the cockpit to dry, while elsewhere along the dock a team of sailors was scrubbing tomatoes to the point of glossy shine.
Fruit and veg were not the only items being packed in, several boats were in the process of loading freshly filled jerry cans of both water and diesel aboard. With over 2700 miles of ocean between the Canaries and St Lucia it seems you can never have enough of the essentials.
Beyond provisioning, some boats were taking the time to finalise necessary on-board systems for the crossing. Devices such as hydro generators and wind steering rigs were being attached and calibrated, while outboards and tenders were covered and stowed – on deck, on davits and in garages. Running rigging was also being put in place on many boats. Sheets were run and preventer lines coiled on deck, ready for next week’s downwind sailing.
On some yachts – especially those with new crew – safety briefings were taking place and familiarization tours were ongoing, with no lazarette left un-opened. As is frequently said amongst the ARC safety team, the last time you want to know how to use something is when you need to use it. Some boats were going a step further, practicing fire drills and even leaving the dock to practice MOB manoeuvres.
Overall the vast majority of boats seemed ready, with many crew members excited and well prepared to put to sea. On Zuri 3, the skipper going so far as to say he’s ‘itching to get underway’. With the ARC farewell party tonight and check-outs and the skippers briefing tomorrow, it is not long at all until the start.