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Zafiro - Log 1 - ARC Preparation and Positioning

The dream for sailing the ARC began for me several years ago after sailing in the Caribbean and thinking how good it would be to take my own yacht and family on an Atlantic adventure. This led me onto reading about the ARC rallies and discovering that there was more than the Atlantic to sail in company. Due to work and family commitments we decided on the ARC Portugal with an ambition to sail the World ARC later.

Preparations began for us 2 years ago to get our yacht Zafiro, Moody 36CC up to spec and in good shape to tackle an offshore passage. We think we are there but only taking part in the event will answer that question. The published ARC preparation guidance notes have been a valuable source of information, top tips and is a good read. 

For me the next biggest hurdle after getting the boat prepared was how to get her down to the start line at Plymouth from Largs. The original dream plan was to sail with friends on a zig zag pattern down the Irish Sea taking in as many ports as possible. In reality work commitments, wedding anniversaries and weather dictated it was going to be an all in one go push to complete the 460nm to Plymouth. So last Saturday two ex military aviation friends Tony and Andrew joined me at Largs for the adventure south. Despite a late afternoon arrival at Largs for us all but with a very favourable weather window we decided to sail that evening.

Showing the flexibility that the RAF has but the army and RN always fail to match..!

The journey itself was relatively uneventful but it did highlight some minor unserviceabilities in Zafiro, namely an intermittent  electric water pump. The biggest learning curve for me was adopting a watch system that worked to leave us rested. Initially we tried using a flexible system during the day and an overlapping 3 hour watch at night. By night 2 it was obvious we were all becoming really fatigued so we chose to adopt a single person on deck 2 hour watch which gave the off going crew a 4 hour rest instead of the 1:30 previously. The extra sleep far and above made up for the solitude on deck and 2 hours goes really quickly especially with the clear night skies we had.

The light winds and high pressure dictated that the engine was put to good use for a lot of the time. This was a bonus to confirm Zafiro’s actual fuel burn / hour.

The journey south continued and we rounded Lands End in perfect weather and pressed on for Plymouth overnight.

The other big learning point to come out of this positioning trip was the value of radar at night for avoidance when meeting with fishing boats not showing AIS.

All of this has gone to confirm what the rally organisers have said about getting your boat and tactics ready and that is to get out on the water and try it out.

We are now looking forward to meeting everyone at Mayflower marina next week and setting off on the ARC.

Rob Fletcher Skipper

Photo: Sunrise Lands End 

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