The Rally Portugal 2012 offices opened today in Plymouth. Ten boats have been checked-in so far, and seven boats have completed their safety equipment inspection.
Most of the Rally boats that have been inspected so far have passed with flying colours - the owners have taken safety seriously. This isn't just a case of buying the right equipment, but also thinking about how it will be used in an emergency.
John and Elspeth Perryman of North Point were one of the boats to pass first go. They put into action things they learned on the Sea Safety course, including having a dedicated 6:1 tackle ready to hoist up a man overboard, and two alternative steering systems. Their Hallberg Rassy has a robust dedicated emergency tiller designed to be fitted directly to the top of the rudder stock, but they decided to buy a drogue system that can be used to slow the boat in a serious storm, and also to steer the boat in case of complete rudder failure. Running the drogue on a 'bridle' taken to the primary winches will enable them to steer North Point in an emergency by winding on on the winches. This will work particularly well when the boat is sailing downwind.
The first social takes place on Friday night after the rally briefing. This will be an opportunity for the crews to meet and mingle for the first time - around 60 people are taking part in Rally Portugal, but not all will be in Plymouth as some will just be joining their boats for individual stages as we journey down the coast of Portugal.