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Hummingbird - Across the start line

Hummingbird’s crew arrived in Las Palmas on Wednesday for the Atlantic Rally for Crusers Cape Verde addition. They were just in time for the undersea themed crew party. A quick trip down the cleaning aisle of the local Spar was all we could manage by way of preparation. Having bought every type of coloured bin bag going we soon transformed into three turtles (the boys) four sirens (the girls), a sponge (Rachael) and a protest against plastic in our oceans (Gina). John looked particularly fetching wearing a bright yellow mop head as a wig and pink rubber gloves as earrings, whilst Erika brought some sophistication to the scene with purple coloured, lavender scented bin bags. Meanwhile Nicky had fallen in love with a particularly soft mop head, so we now have a team mascot – ‘Shaggy’. Talking to inanimate objects at the end of a transatlantic is one thing, but at the start it is a cause for concern!

After saying goodbye to Hummingbird’s valiant delivery crew we began safety briefings, passage planning, victualling and boat preparations. Before she left, Miranda (Rachael’s Mother and Rubicon 3 fleet admiral) gave the new crew her now legendary loo briefing. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say everyone has been pumping like a dream (some of them suspect there is a remote monitoring device installed in the system to count the number of pumps…). Through Friday all of the systems were run up and checked, shackles seized, seacocks exercised and emergency steering demonstrated. It was a busy day but all the hard work allowed us to get out for a training sail on Saturday. It was great to be on the water and all agreed it was time to get out on the ocean.

At 11am on Sunday we said goodbye to the land for 5 days, and slipped lines. With two hours to the start we did an MOB drill in which Erika went over the side in a climbing harness to rescue a fender and waited for the start. Once across the line we took a SE course to steer wide around the island of Gran Canaria which has formidable wind acceleration zones around the coast. When we were abeam of the airport we bore away and poled out the No 2 Yankee, with Fraser registering some impressive 12kn surfs. The boat was making a steady eight or nine knots, and with no major wind increase anticipated we relaxed into the passage and were all looking forward to an uneventful night.

Of course as soon as darkness fell our hopes of a peaceful off watch were abruptly dashed – with a bang the guy detached from the pole. We would have to drop the pole to reconnect the guy, and this meant dropping the yankee too. Luckily, Jennifer (AKA Brunhild the Yankee Slayer), Fraser and Nicky were all on hand to make an excellent foredeck team. The sail came down relatively well despite having to do it down wind with the clew still attached to the pole, and the guy was reconnected and sail re-hoisted. The fantastic moonlight made the whole process a lot easier, and we are now back on track, up to speed and the front runners of the fleet are in our sights!

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