The Kincsem crew poised to cast off!
At the start – the line goes from the naval ship in the background to a yellow buoy to the left of the Swan 65.
For those of us who are racers the start of the ARC was interesting. Some 90 heavy, overloaded cruising boats started upwind in 5-6 knots of breeze at 1300, with the line so crooked that you could only lay it on port tack. There was a lot of barging going on but then the Racing Rules of Sailing do not apply in the cruising division so there is no barging rule. Daniel maneuvered Kincsem expertly to a conservative but good start just next to a Swan 65 from the 1970s. There were tons of spectator boats, horns were blown, a real fiesta atmosphere!
In the Cruising Division, you are permitted to motor but motoring costs you because extra time is added to a boat’s actual time for motor use. How much extra time is added we don’t know because the motor time factor is made up by the ARC race control people after the finish based upon the actual conditions of the race. They will say that the factor is between 0 and 2, but in prior races, the factor has often been between 1.2 and 1.7. So an hour of motoring costs between 1.2 and 1.7 hours in additional time. On the other hand, an hour of motoring also gets you faster to your destination – i.e. reduces the actual time sailed. Before the start, Rainer had come up with a formula that would tell us whether it paid to use the engine based upon the factor. Within an hour after the start, the formula came into its own and the engine went on! Just before sunset, however, a light breeze came up from the ENE and the Parasailor went up, together with the main and mizzen. That was a great combination until the next morning when the wind shifted to forward of the beam.
The Parasailor is complicated but a very forgiving sail
The weather situation in the Tropical Atlantic after the start was such that everyone was going SSW towards the Cap Verde Islands first to avoid headwinds on the direct great circle route. We followed a course more to the East than many others which we hope will pay off once we all turn to the West near the Cap Verde islands. The conditions were phantastic if light so we decided to motor a few more times, interspersed with time on Parasailor. Life on board was very comfortable with little swell or waves. There was no boredom, however. On day 2, when we ran the generator to cook and make water during the evening, we discovered that the watermaker had developed a significant leak and was spraying salt water around the engine room. We also noticed a fine mist which blew over important electronic components in the engine room! Not a good situation!
The membranes for the watermaker – the blue circles indicate where it WAS leaking
And then, in the middle of the night a vessel not on AIS suddenly turned on bright lights and took a course toward us! Well, we motored away at 8 knots for a few minutes and the vessel turned away. I was concerned that we had come upon a boat full of African refugees but more likely, it was a local fishing boat.
The next day Rainer and I went to work on the watermaker. Thanks to Starlink, we were able to send a video of our problem to the Dessalator rep in the Netherlands, a guy named Vinci who has been very helpful in the past. He determined that the cause was a leaking interconnection tube between the second and third membranes of the watermaker. I also posted on the Amel Owners Forum and received many helpful pictures and tips as a result. We now understood what was the problem: The interconnection tube is simply pressed into the membranes and has a couple of O-rings to seal. It seemed that the O-rings had become dislodged somehow. Rainer’s ingenious fix was simple: wiggle the tube deeper into the bottom membrane with the help of a screw driver and later a plastic card that was previously used for access to the docks in Las Palmas! Result: the leak is down to a few drops per minute. We’re collecting those and the watermaker is back in business!
Almut taking advantage of the calm conditions and bagging ingredients for additional breads. The white box with the black lid is the breadmaker.
Serious fishing operations under way
No hardship in sight with breakfast like this!
Achim shares his cabin with many bananas and some 90 eggs!
The watermaker was not the only challenge we faced during the first few days, but all challenges have been overcome to date! Since the late afternoon of Day 4, we now have the trade winds blowing from behind us and we are flying the Code Zero and the genoa wing to wing on dual poles, going straight downwind. A great rig that is very comfortable and quite fast.
Setting up the tradewind rig with double poles takes a bit of time ….
Our Expedition routing program is showing 13-14 more days of this sailing before arrival in St Lucia. If you can believe the various weather models, we will do a big arc down to 12 degrees North and then come back up to 14 degrees North for the finish in St Lucia. Well, I’m sure further challenges await but the Kincsem crew is up to it!
Modified turkey recipe under preparation for Thanksgiving! Note first glass of red wine dispensed to the cook since the day before the start.
Thanksgiving celebrations with proper French champagne!
Moonlit night in the early trades