ARC 2022 has got off to a flying start with skippers and crew arriving at the platform to check in and stopping by the shop to collect orders and pick up tickets for the seminars and dinners planned for the next two weeks. The week started with a great sundowner event yesterday evening with crews meeting other boats and swapping tips and stories.
During the build up to start day, each one of over 140 yachts in the ARC fleet will be visited by World Cruising Club’s team of expert safety inspectors led by senior instructor Roger Seymour from Hamble School of Yachting. One of the many benefits of joining the ARC rally is the added safety and expert knowledge provided. Whilst everyone hopes to never have to use the equipment, it is a vital part of preparation for the crossing and the team is always happy to answer questions and chat through the risks boats can encounter miles from shore. The inspection is not about passing or failing, and support is given to make sure the standard of equipment is suitable for an ocean passage of nearly 3,000nm and the skipper and crew understand how to use it in an emergency.
First up on this morning’s Safety Inspections was Katy (GBR), a 29ft Westerly Konsort that has sailed from Plymouth and was familiar with the safety requirements having joined ARC Portugal this summer on the way down to Las Palmas. Gary welcomed the Safety Team onboard and was well prepared with equipment all laid out for the run through. Gary will be joined by a crew member for the ARC but spends a lot of his time sailing Katy on his own and there are a number of modifications on board to assist in sailing her single-handed. Roger commented on a tiller contraption Gary has installed, which was setup to work like a kill cord. If he goes overboard it trips the autopilot and turns the boat up into wind and straight back to him.
After a quick check that the liferaft and flares were in date and correctly stored, the inspection then moved on to the grab bag. Roger was very pleased to see the laminated card with instructions Gary had included in his grab bag to follow in an emergency – it’s not always easy to keep cool and methodical in a crisis and thinking about the scenarios in a calm environment is a useful exercise to plan prompt like this. Discussion moved onto procedures for man overboard, techniques for cutting rigging in an emergency, and then Gary showed Roger the cockpit table he has prepared to fashion into a replacement rudder or tiller if needed. It wasn’t just the safety equipment discussed, but also life on board as the Safety Team are always interested to hear stories from participants and see their boat set ups - On board Katy, there is ingenious solution to cooking while in the marina, a plug-in electric cooker used when connected to shore power to save gas!
After covering fire extinguishers, search lights, stowage chart, and impressing Roger with his laminated diagram of the location of all safety equipment on the boat the inspection was almost finished. One of the final items to be looked at were the lifejackets on board, with each one opened up to fully check the condition. An error of the packing of a lifejacket on Katy would have caused a major problem for the wearer had it needed to be deployed – Gary was thankful for Roger’s spot of this, a small problem that was easily fixed.
Although he has owned the boat for 5 years, this will be Gary’s first Atlantic crossing as he has spent most of the time sailing around the UK and Channel Islands. He will be sailing double handed so plenty of time for fishing although he wasn’t so keen on the jumping squid he encountered on the passage down from Lagos to Lanzarote who were intent on landing on the deck and ‘caused a right mess’!
No two boats are the same, and skippers all have a different level of experience, so visiting the boats in the ARC fleet is an interesting job for the Safety Team. If you’re yet to have your safety check, make sure the kettle’s on and don’t be nervous about the team coming onboard.