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Tahira - TAHIRA ARC BLOG D-Day 19 [09-Dec-23]

D-Day 19 [09-Dec-23]
Location: St Lucia approach - 2 days out
Lat: 14.16N Long: 57.21W

Just one more day to go. What a trip! As we reflect back on the voyage we realise everyone's goals have been met without exception, and we all rate our experiences as 9 or more out of 10. Did everything go according to plan - no! We have met and overcome challenges and come out with smiles on our faces. Here are the combined memories of the trip:

Best memories
We had some great memories:

- Sailing under the stars and moon at night, with the bonus of the phosphorescence in the water off the Senegal coast.
- The joy of sitting together over dinner at the end of the day - although we all learned not to sit on the leeward side as you are likely to get your dinner or drink in your lap :
- Chatting with other ARC boats over the SSB radio every night. In particular it was great to hear from Magnus on his boat Lulu - we were never more than 8 hours sailing apart, and simple conversations about our sail configuration, our food, or our visitor Eddie the Eaglet made us feel we were never alone.
- Being right up at the front of the boat in the pounding sea rigging the poles. This was very exhilarating, and gave Tony a new experience - realising he can do it and really enjoyed the adrenalin rush.
- Laughter
- The constant visitations by bottle-nosed dolphins. What amazing creatures - playing off the front of the boat. Peter, our only existing ARC sailor commented he had 'never seen anything like it'.
- Our cinema night - not necessarily the best audio or visuals, but to have our own cinema experience in the middle of the Atlantic under the stars was special.
- Helming on some of the big Atlantic waves was exhilarating. We hand-steered all the way - no labour saving devices for us - so this was particularly exciting when standing up to helm on the cockpit seats where Tahira became an extension of the crew on the helm.
- For Chris as an experienced sailor, avoiding the lightening storm and the hazard and risks associated with it was special, particularly as it took time to realise if the avoidance strategy had worked.
- The evening meals have been exceptional. Rather than feeling like we were eating pre-packed rations, our resident chefs - Bryan and Peter (and others), did a brilliant job of serving up delicious, varied and wholesome meals. Not what I was expecting.
- Deck showers, whilst not in fresh water, were amazingly refreshing. Simply soaking in salt water, then washing with a shower gel every couple of days was great.
- Listening to Tony's playlist in the warm breeze whilst sailing along gave us a really holiday feel when conditions were calm.

Worst memories
We had very few bad memories, and many of our pre trip fears never materialised. We had no fighting and no tears :. But it wasn't all plain sailing:

- The chaos down below in the storm - as if 'burglar Bill' had gone through our cupboards and dumped everything on the floor'.
- For some the daily navigation planning meetings were not always necessary - we all trusted Chris and John to assess the forecast inputs and make a decision on direction and sail configuration.
- Getting into damp salty pyjamas and sheets every night - we could never get them feeling totally dry.
- 'The bloody door to the heads'. This is designed to trap your fingers with all your weight slamming against it. Even after 21 days getting in and out to do you business is done with a lot of caution and trepidation. The full-length dressing mirror that hangs on the door to the heads to ensure your dinner suit is correctly worn also hasn't proven particularly useful on this trip! :
- Climbing over three black rubbish sacks to get to the forward berth
- We had two minor injuries on board with both Bryan and Peter receiving injuries to their respective noses. - -- Moving around the boat as it rocks and slams from side-to-side is a challenge, and even with a great deal of care it can knock you off balance.
- Lack of sleep. We all got into our watch system quickly and it worked very well, but we never enjoyed being woken for the 3pm shift

Funniest memories
Most crew members had smiles on their faces most of the time - here are some of the more memorable moments.

- The realisation that Tony brought only 3 pairs of pants, and after 18 days he still hadn't washed them!
- Peter cooking two Spanish omelettes in a very rocky sea. He said that 'flipping it needed more courage than to sail the Atlantic'.
- The number of discussions about which was the right direction to sail in. Honestly, straight to St Lucia is not the right answer
- When waking Tony up from a deep sleep to get ready for his watch, Tony instinctively threw a punch at Andy! Tony claimed he was in a deep sleep and thought he was being attacked in his dream : - it was very funny, and after that we always woke Tony up for his watch with a lot of caution!
- Tony insisting on joining the watch during the storm to get 'the best seats in the house'.
Clinging on grimly to prevent yourself being thrown out of the heads whilst midway through your daily ablutions!
- Despite several attempts to improve the watch system, Bryan always seemed to be on the 3am - 6am watch
- The constant noise from the cupboards of rattling food and crockery, even after John's programme to prevent this which included a guided tour on how cupboards should be stacked!
- John a student of wave technology tried to explain the difference between speed in the water, speed over ground and the tumbling nature of the sea to justify why our speedometer that at he beginning of the week was reading too slow was now suddenly dead accurate.

Blog author: Andy Bruce

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