Hamble School of Yachting’s Roger Seymour heads up the ARC+ safety team and has been busy doing online safety checks with participants in the weeks leading up to their arrival in Las Palmas. Today, however, crews had an opportunity to watch a live helicopter hi-line transfer demonstration from the breakwater in Las Palmas Marina. Luckily there were no real emergency call-outs for them to attend, so the crew of SAR ‘Helimer 204’ were able to show their manoeuvring skills to get close to Nicolas Rouge and George Gasser’s X-Yacht Brainwave, who kindly agreed to help with the demonstration from a stationery position in the sheltered waters of the port.
Crews watched closely and listened to Roger’s informative commentary as the rescue unfolded. It provided a valuable insight into how such a rescue would work at sea and in less than perfect conditions. The enactment of a hi-line transfer saw a diver dropped down from the rescue helicopter on a wire directly into the sea and was also watched by many of the ARC+ children who enjoyed going out in RIBS and dinghies with the Federación Insular de Vela de Gran Canaria as part of the ARC+ Kids Club.
Although the ARC+ safety checks and virtual inspections have been done online this year before the programme began, the ARC+ Safety team still make a visit to each boat for a personal check once they are in Las Palmas. “These checks are likely to be shorter in some cases, but the boats have travelled significant distances since we carried out the virtual inspection, so quite often there are many have been things that might have gone wrong or need checking, so we can give advice on how to prevent that happening,” explains Roger.
“This is the first time we have done virtual safety checks and inspections and they have worked very well. They have been especially popular with those participating in the rally for the first time. For those who are new to long offshore trips, we can show them what safety equipment they need to buy, make sure they choose the right type of liferaft, etc. and it gives them a chance to ask any questions. I was surprised by the amount of follow-up emails and video chats we had after some of the initial calls, but this is all good. The ARC+ boats have been very well prepared.”
Later in the afternoon, the ARC+ seminar programme continued with a talk by Grenada Tourism Authority and Zara Tremlett, Marina Manager at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina – host port for the finish of ARC+. Participants heard about the delights which lay ahead of them once they finish their transatlantic passage to the ‘spice island’ of Grenada, and also what to expect on arrival in Port Louis Marina. With its wealth of sheltered anchorages, year-round good weather, fabulous waters in which to sail, plenty of activities ashore, coupled with the pure warmth of Grenadians, there’s lots to look forward!
Ahead of the start on Sunday, there is still much for ARC+ participants to do to prepare for the start of Leg 1 to Mindelo. Excitement is building and the countdown is on!