Dispatches from the Atlantic: One Day Down, One More to Go

After a long day of preparation the Snark is almost ready for the crossing...although we need some sails.

Rested and refreshed from yesterday's bout with Montezuma's revenge, etc., I felt like a new man on this morning's walk to the docks. Aboard the Snark, I was greeted by a sleepy Ben, yawning and scratching his face. Dugald was still in his berth, so Ben and I went over the safety drills and all of the boat's emergency information (where the fire extinguishers are, who deploys the life raft, who grabs the emergency bag, etc.). Then I headed to the chandlery to get some ARC-required accessories for my life jacket. You would think that with so many English speaking people in the harbor the chandleries would bring in ringers-hire on English speaking salespeople to help all the yachtsmen who are scrambling to empty their pockets buying last minute gear. But at least those seven years of middle and high school Spanish finally came in handy. On my way to the fuel dock, I passed "millionaire's row," where all the larger yachts are tied up, and caught a glimpse of one of the two Wally's taking part in the race-there's a Wally 80 here that looks like sex on the water. After topping off the jerry cans with diesel, I hitched a ride back to the boat and arrived just in time to help Ben and Dugald stow away our provisions for the trip, including the essential "finish line fizz" (a big bottle of champagne). "Not for drinking," Ben said, "just to spray all over ourselves." The Hanse 461 has an incredible amount of stowage and we were able to fit 21 days worth of food with plenty of room to spare-which will be a mighty good thing when I arrive at the boat tomorrow afternoon with so much luggage I look like the princess from Mel Gibson's Spaceballs. (Hey, at least I don't have a giant hairdryer.) We had just put the kettle on for a well-deserved break when Charlie the sailmaker came by to give us an update on the spinnaker (it should be back tomorrow) and take our bimini top back to his shop. Charlie has been a great find. He's an Englishman, so there's no language barrier, and he isn't based in the marina which means his schedule isn't as tied-up by the ARC as the other sailmakers' tend to be. Charlie lives in Gran Canaria year round. He says he sailed in about 13 years ago "and never really left." When teatime was over, Ben and Dugald began tightening up our rig while I grabbed the teak oil and hit the deck. Working in the bright sun, smelling the salty air and feeling the gentle rock of the waves, I began to settle back into being on the water again, a rejuvenating feeling that I have sorely missed. Once they were ready, Dugald and I manned the winches and Ben went up the mast to do some taping and drop down the new spinnaker halyard. We got the halyard fed through and everything looked great…but wait, what is this? An inch-long rip at the top of the genoa! Uh-oh…spinnaker's in the shop, genoa's got a rip-we're all praying that Charlie is a good as we've been told or this may be a longer crossing than we're planning. I have visions of us pulling into St. Lucia with sails made of bedsheets. Of course, there's always the back up plan, which, as Ben says in his best American accent, involves "loads and loads and loads of duct-tape." Tomorrow we're meeting up at the market to get our fruits and vegetables, then it's off to a skippers meeting. Hopefully, Charlie will work his magic and get all of our sails back to us. Then, it's one more night's sleep, and time for the starting gun.

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