So I started writing this post a day after the ARC 2017 departed from the Canaries to St Lucia back in November last year. That was over 5 months ago. Consequently, this is going to be a long blog post!
The 2017 ARC saw 186 boats depart from the Canaries. Some made it, some didn’t, nobody died. The winds were fickle to begin with and I thought I’d watch the tracker everyday to get a sense of the weather and routes people were taking, I didn’t. I’m very little the wiser,
and will have to replay the tracker after Christmas when all this hullabaloois over. Seeing the videos and the pictures though is pretty bloody exciting, and at the same time I’m thinking ‘oh fuck, fuck me we’ve got so much to do, the clocks ticking!’ (I wrote that back in November, only November Tim really had it easy! He had no idea!)
We’ve had parties on the boat, parties at the house, a wedding and other social occasions to boot. I think it’s fair to say we lapped up as much Christmas spirit as possible in December. This in theory will be the last cold Christmas for a while. I will seriously miss times like these. We went ice skating next to the Tower of London, had parties on the boat where we’ve all been so drunk we’ve been screaming the lyrics to our favourite songs, secret Santa games, and walks in the countryside, snow on the ground, country pubs and mulled wine, returning home to hibernate in front of the log burner at the house. All these things make up the iconic Christmas to me. I shall treasure them all and greatly appreciate great friends, parents and girlfriend (not plural).
We started packing up our belongings, moving what we could up into the attic..
On the boat front, my folks have kindly bought solar panels for Christmas. We now have 200w of solar. Project creep is a word you get familiar with when working on boats. I had to buy the cables (£50) and I’ll need an additional controller (£100) and I will have to get the pushpit extended, as I want to hang the panels off the side of the boat. Other than this, work on the boat is on hold. The temperature outside has been frigging fecking cold. I’ve only slipped up once Home Alone style on the pontoons.
After 8 weeks from arriving in St Kats the transformation from a sailing boat to a floating studio apartment was nearly complete. A winter on board a boat wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Robert Dyas for a Halogen heater for example. The electric blanket came out, and it was only a matter of weeks before Excalibur was wrapped up in tinsel and Christmas lights.
My first proper night on the boat was a typical one. First I ran out of water, then I ran out of gas. Did I call it a floating studio? more like a floating shed. There’s nothing quite like huddling around a camping stove for warmth and sustenance.
The amount of condensation, drips and leaks has been pretty impressive this year. We’ve got some serious work to do next year rebedding hatches and windows I suspect.
For Christmas we’ve promised not buy each other crap we don’t need, so we’ll be buying each other purely boat related items. I can’t wait to see Trina’s face when she gets zip ties in her crackers, tubes of winch grease and assorted stainless steel nuts in her stocking.
Christmas came and went. Santa brought me a spear gun which was cool, then I lost my job, which was not as cool as getting a speargun. Sadly the company I was working for was closing down, sad for my accountant, sad my sailing funds, and just very sad, as I thought (unrealistically) that I could sod off sailing and come back with a tan and slip into my old job, which was a safe place for the mentally insane, which is exactly where I belonged. So that was shit! RIP Graphic (should have been called Baggywinkles, I did tell them!)
I rented a trumpet which I blew once. Oliver came to visit which was great. Mum got a new knee, and I found a teak wooden chair on the side of the road. I also saw a man with a parrot on his shoulder in reading.
In February I turned the hanging locker into shelves and threw out a teapot after a short debate. Trina 1 Tim 0. It was the right thing to do, we’re really short on space, and now we’re both spending more time on the boat we’re starting to find a 30ft boat is not as spacious as my house.
I had two birthday cakes, and saw Jamie Lenman perform his new album. I got a secret birthday present which I still haven’t used…
Had the official work closing down leaving do *sob* End of an era 🙁
Trina made a champagne and wine cupboard. I cut some holes in my cockpit (for cupboards), and we made a tea shelf for the forepeak, and then it snowed!
It snowed some more.
Trina began making cupboards in the forepeak for all my shoes and dresses. We’re now debating whether we can do the same the other side. There real challenge is finding room for everything we need for our trip, and for our belongings that we need up until the start of the trip, that we don’t need for the trip.
I’ve lugged countless heavy bags from the house to the boat, and I’m looking forward to doing it no more. The boat is looking like a shed with a woodstore on deck. As we’re so time limited, we’re making templates out of cheap plywood for now. Once we’re somewhere warm we’ll swap them out for marine teak faced plywood (maybe).
Trina’s also retrofitted a saloon table into the, um saloon. So bye bye Tim’s makeshift dodgy MDF quickfix.
We took a drive down to the south coast in March and picked up our new genoa made by North Sails, and saw David Goodwin at stainlessmarinefabrications.me.uk He has an awesome workshop, and he’d made up some extensions for our pushpit so we can hang our solar panels off them.
I’ve been emptying the house, moving things to various attics around the country, and sold off my table and chairs to Stuart. Then I started looking for tenants.
I found a new job, thank you Liz and Matt! Not sure there would even be a trip if it wasn’t for these guys, so massive thank you! x
We’re both having a bit of a meltdown juggling jobs/house/flat/boat! The thought of swanning around London, seeing friends and making the most of our time here has been utter fantasy.
Trina’s been sorting out kitchens and bathrooms for her new flat. I’ve been rushing to make the house ready for tenants and learn how to use a mac.
Our relationship mostly involves todo lists and boat related phone calls. We drew up a spreadsheet of jobs and catagorised them by months, assignee, priority etc. We ended up with 82 jobs (we’re now down to 77 as I write this). We no longer talk about art and politics (we’ve never talked about art), now it’s gudgeons and water pumps, thread lock and the wonders of ratchet screwdrivers.
We refitted the pushpit and managed to fit one solar panel. I’m not sure about the structural integrity of the extension so that might need a bit of extra work.
We leave St Katharine Docks on Sunday 20th May for Gillingham, where Excalibur will be out of the water for a month. We’ll be concentrating on:
- replacing engine feet
- checking heat exchanger
- cleaning out the diesel tank
- replacing a genoa track
After that we’ll be nearly into July, when we need to move the boat to Falmouth over weekends, learn to sail, live off friends couches and still turn up for work.
We’ll have a small gathering the day before we depart from St Kats, which happens to be the day of the royal wedding so the marina will most likely have a ticket parade of some sorts, but sadly not for us.
So this is where we are, we’re in a whirlwind and we have 99 days left and a million and one things to sort out.
This isn’t a unique story though, there’ll be people like us up and down the country in the UK and abroad, all going through the same process.