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Graptolite - ARC2023 The First Few Days

Sunday 19th November 2023, 28:7.38N 15:25.39W

We have been in Las Palmas forever spending money on parts as fast as we can and loading up with huge amounts of food, but the big day has finally arrived and the ARC 2023 Las Palmas to St Lucia rally starts today. Graptolite's crew this year is myself, Martyn Pickup (UK) , Mrs P - Heike Richter (DE), old university and sailing friend Tim Relton (UK), Mrs R - Rosie Carnall (UK) and a recent find, John Eberhard (US/FR). Friends Mayk and Peter came to see us off and we had some celebratory fizzy before joining the queue to get out of the marina.

Not for the first time, Graptolite crossed the race start line with a recently discovered major defect. In 2007 we started with a mainsail on deck and in-mast furling parts dropped inside the mast. A problem solved by sheltering in an island wind-shadow and poking about inside the mast with a coathook and chewing gum to fish out essential fittings. Keeping with tradition, this time we crossed the start line with a non-working autopilot. For those not familiar with boats, this is a disturbing problem which involves needing to arm-wrestle with the ship's wheel 24 hours a day for several weeks. This partly explains why we ended up crossing the start line twice in very light winds. After a couple of hours work with cable ties, the problem was mostly fixed to everyone's relief. It still makes an unpleasant clanking noise where a control chain catches as the boat rolls but it needs the boat to be still to adjust.

Monday 20th November 2023, 26:28.57N 15:36.1W
Some hours were spent today trying to get one of the heads to flush. It turned out that during a recent refit the seawater intake was reconnected to a seacock above the waterline. At least during a slight list to starboard. Creeping along in light winds somewhere at the middle back of the fleet we were hit by a rogue gust, and we discovered that our speediness in handling sails left something to be desired as we tipped over and noisily gybed. Some of the problem was the genoa furling system which was sticking. Team building at its best.

Tuesday 21st November 2023, 24:14.15N 17:51.35W
The genoa furling system was found to have lost a part of its mechanism and was essentially stuck fully unfurled. The first attempt at fixing it, which was only slightly successful, had us constructing a new furling drum from the lid of a grey plastic food crate. Darkness stopped play with only half of the sail able to be furled. No fish today even though I had my best pink rubber squid out. In the darkness most of our navigation lights failed to come on which marked the end of a perfect day and will keep us busy tomorrow.

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