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Walkabout - Day 1 - Walkabout is heading to the Pacific!

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Blog Day 1 - 18th February 2023
Departure from Rodney Bay, St Lucia with the ARC Pacific
After many months of planning, it’s finally here! The start of our adventure across the pacific. 
Walkabout is now a team of three with Tom who joined us early February to get to know the boat, enjoy some sailing and of course get used to the heat!
We met Tom at the airport and drove the very windy 1.5hrs  back to Walkabout and Rodney Bay Marina . 
We managed to squeeze in a little wing foiling, an evening music session on a friends boat and a few social evenings before heading off to Martinique to provision and pick up the never ending list of boat supplies. 
We’ve been told that once we leave Panama, provisions and parts will become even harder if non existent so we need to carry all that we can. 
Our sail to Martinique was lumpy there and back with winds peaking at 30 knots, dodging a few squalls and a very enjoyable swim in St Annes bay before we headed back to Rodney Bay and the start of the week long preparations the WCC (World Cruising Club) host. 
It was a big week, meeting many of the other 28 boats during our welcome drinks and seminars that week. 
Many had their boats ‘dressed’ which is when you hoist a series of code flags in a very specific order from bow (front) and stern (back) to the top of the mast. It looks very impressive and also gives everyone a feeling of excitement and camaraderie!
A few nerves, a lot of excitement and many boat jobs under everyone’s belts, it’s the morning of our departure and we are ready!
We all wore our pink Walkabout shirts under our life jackets and left the marina under trumpet from Casamara which was an absolute hoot! (Pardon the pun!)
Having left our berth, we realise Walkabout’s speed log which is a little paddle wheel that measures our speed, was not working so we had to circle for a while in the marina to remove and clean it before heading out into the bay and the start line. 
Now, the ARC Pacific isn’t a race, but all boats are given a rating and handicap for a little competitive fun, and there is an actual start line we have to cross in a certain direction before sailing down the coast to another mark and off we go, 28 boats in all, under sail heading for Santa Marta, Columbia!
It was spectacular to see all the boats set sail and cross the start line for their 4 day passage. The excitement was electric! 
It’s now the morning after and we are beginning to settle into a routine of watch patterns, meals and general boat life at sea. 
The sea is big, the winds are mid 20’s and we are currently sailing wing on wing dead downwind. 
Sleep hasn’t been easy and in the first few days of any passage, your body is getting used to life onboard the high seas. 
We have eaten well with pork stew and pasta for dinner, home cooked ham rolls for lunch and homemade Bircher and yogurt for breakfast plus a never ending supply of nibbles sweet snd savoury. One thing is for sure, we won’t go hungry! 
The last couple of weeks has seen a series of ‘firsts’ for Tom. Each sail has been his longest, with bigger winds and waves. Not something you plan to go out in in the Solent. First night at sea - and it was black - no moonlight at all. Quite disorientating on a pitching, rolling boat. With that came the experience of seeing phosphorescence streaming off the back of the boat. First solo watch between 0200 - 0500, and making the right call to get help when the wind picked up to 30knots. 
It has been a baptism of fire, and he has come sailing through!
There has been little time for any of the sports, social or cultural societies to get into their activities so far.  The Fishing Club has had a couple of half hearted attempts get catch dinner, but the amount of sargasso weed has led to early cancellation of activities.  Maybe tomorrow…

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