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Gitana - Day 1 - post TransAt (St.Lucia time)

We've been in for over 24hours now and it seems like it was just this morning we arrived and the day we've been acclimatising.

Yesterday was spent just coming to terms with the realisation of what we'd achieved, but also trying to work out why in earth the ground seemed to rise up to meet us with every step! That'll be the sea legs overriding the power of the land legs then!!

After a decent lunch and dinner, we spent so much time with our friends from Degree of Latitude, sharing our adventures; meeting the crew of Safena who'd really been there for us in our moment of need, finally putting faces to the names of TinTin, MR, Attitude, Purple Rain and others who arrived alongside us after our amazing journey. Even met up with the family I'd seen at the airport with the year 11 lad, he'd managed 5hrs revision a day on top of 4hr watches and even managed to complete 13 GCSE mock papers amidst the Atlantic roll of the Hanse he was sailing on - amazing!!

Today (Friday) was really a day to sort the boat and just declutter after 18days at sea, we sat in the cockpit for breakfast that Mike had nipped out for and worked out what jobs we had to do and who was going to do them. Everything from laundry to deck scrub, trip planning to the trusty doodle ledger (our budget monitor Mike collected in receipts to manage the spend on the boat and ensure we keep track of what's what. This has been a total godsend for all of us to know how much we need to contribute to the cost of the delivery as a proportion of the time we've spent onboard since we left Plymouth in August).

At 10am this morning, we had a visitor from Yachting Monthly who interviewed us for the March edition of the magazine, about our adventure on the crossing, advice for other sailors and things like that. It such a cathartic experience to go from those intial discussions with James, to him buying the boat, the two year renovation and rebuilding followed by the launch and arrival in Las Palmas for the ARC start last month!!

We'd already spent a bit of time before we arrived talking about best bits, best item to bring, most pointless item to pack and the rest so were pretty ready for most questions when they came...

Here's what we came up with:

Q. What's the most useful personal item you brought with you?

J. Petzel headtorch (with red light) - turns out it's also a multipurpose cockpit light for early evening gatherings.
Da. Solar charger for his torch and phone. Largely self sufficient for energy charges during the crossing
M. Waterproof shorts from musto - perfect for a tropics squall!
De. Flannel! (We all agreed and were annoyed we didn't bring one!)

Q. What's been your 'wasted packing space' item?

J&K - Jeans
Dave - foul weather gear (although you'd be buggered without it Dave!) And jumpers
K. Sleeping bag - just take cotton sheets next time, nonsleeping bags!!

Q. Best meals onboard?

We all agreed the Mahi Mahi we caught, J filleted and Des cooked was amazing!! Closely followed by Mike's daily bread making (including rolls, focaccia bread, pizza based, loafs) and pizza! Dave - does that mean Mike officially wins the bake off??

Q. What treats would you make sure you had next time?

3/5 still said Chocolate in spite of the heat and consequences for melting chocs (it did last a lot longer than the delivery trip as our chocolate guardian Des managed to keep the chocs cool and hidden under his bunk slowly dispensing it into the fridge each week).
Squash - we couldn't find cordial/ squash in any of the shops we visited in Las Palmas, so had 6 bottles to see us through. One bottle of squash lasted just one day and then after that we were in to water maker water... Some days was great, other days not quite so! Eventually I had to hit the emergency rations and started slowly rehydrating with the bottles of water before returning to be human - nothing wrong, just not drinking enough fluids in the increasing heat!
James said - a second pole to then have poled out headsails (not sure J got the right idea when I said about a treat!)

Q. What advice would you give for next time?

Here's a bit of a list really!!
- Buy less red meat (we got meated out at one point...)
- fresh vegetables and fruit was well worth it!
- Get more specific spares (we had the pop rivet gun, but not rivets, hoses for things, blocks, anti chafe gear)
- box of nuts and bolts (we had one, but think it was taken off the boat in Plymouth by accident)
- plan for 3 weeks of hull speed rallying (racing If you're Dave), know your hull and know how to tweak in a range of conditions
- consider level of battery power
- switch all lights to LED
- Add solar/ hydro options to energy charge so reduce time of engine run out of gear!
- consider how you manage your waste on the crossing. Be prepared to recycle dry containers and separate landfill waste. In Las Palmas we knew what St.Lucia could do with waste. On the crossing all food waste went over the side, but there's a shocking amount of recyclables that could have made it to the recycle...

As it is, the boats (ours included) weren't very good at separating recycling and landfill waste. Even the eco-bricks was a struggle - I will talk to ARC about that and see if eco-bricks are interested!!

Beyond that, the agreement was that the watch system (initially very contentious), I drew up, we discussed and agreed - off we went 2hrs on, 8hrs off and various duties to share. It worked and the boys all agreed that the rotation through day and night was made easier by the length of time off to rest, read, share others watches. 2hrs never seems arduous and the support was great! James had never had a rotating watch, always fixed - over always been opposite!
Ultimately, make sure you plan and agree a watch system that is discussed, not forced, is fair, not biased, reflects the sharing of responsibility that a trip like this really needs!

Ultimately we had lots of things on the wish list like - more time to shake down the boat, work in the sails, the water maker, the engine, the blocks; make sure you've ironed about as many kinks in a sailing season as possible, not in an ocean passage!

Ultimately though, each boat has had a different experience, we've spoken to crews who bent the boom, broke the spinnaker pole, lost the steerage, had illness, lost sails, lost rudders, lost masts ... Our adventure seems relatively tame.

The sum total of damage - we lost one halyard to chafe (not under load at the time), a sheet to the same, two blocks that were rather shock loaded and broke, some sail chafe and the prop issues that have since been resolved. Otherwise we had a cracking down wind sail and Gitana who seriously loves those conditions!!

As I said, a totally cathartic experience that may feature in the March Yachting Monthly but that we had already started to discuss before we arrived!!

So after a day of boat cleaning, doing laundry, adding ladders and fixing outboards, were chilling onboard for an early night!

Tomorrow, were joining team ARC as we head off down to the south of the island to take part in the reforestation programme, we'll be joined by a local school to help us prepare the holes and plant lots of trees.

Can't wait to fill you in on that too!

So after a wonderful evening ashore, it's early to bed for everyone and 9am start!

Hope you're all well and thank you so much for all the amazing feedback received so far.. just amazing!

Kirsty x

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