Archive | ARC rally RSS feed for this section
December 29, 2012

Indulgence Christmas Special, bumper blog edition.

Far too much excitement over the past few weeks has restrained our blogging and the complaints department at Induglence central has been in overdrive. So, we are pleased to bring you the Indulgence bumper Christmas edition blog! All other blogs will be back to four paragraphs after this I promise!

At this stage of the game, we’ve been through the good, the bad, the rough, the smooth, and it is the stories with the more torn edges that have been standing out. The Caribbean has lived up to its name of being a place of extremes, dark, dodgy, friendly, super laid back with some of the most idillic settings on earth. Saint Lucia, known to be the crime capital of the West Indies has been our home for the past few weeks, with a small visit to Martiniuqe for sanity measure.

Did we mention that time here means nothing? “Mañana” doesn’t express urgency. “Live Slow. Work Less.” This is the motto of the islands.

BYE BYE ARCIES

All ARC activities have finished up at this stage and we left the marina at Rodney Bay a few nights back. Delighted to have finished in 33rd place overall and 5th in our fleet. With a total of 228 boats, we were super pleased with our result. The marina was like an arrival and departures lounge and everyday was one of hellos and goodbyes. We caught up with old friends and made some new ones. We too picked up some extra crew members. Jill, who travelled from Thailand for the holidays, and Andy, whom we captured for a few days off Rafiki before he headed home to the UK for Christmas.

 

 

LA MOULIN ROUGE

As mentioned we escaped to Marintinque for a few days. The island was a complete contrast to Saint Lucia. In fact, it was almost like stepping onto a different planet. White v. Black. Euros v. two currencies (i.e. US dollar exchange rate rip off, or local currency which you can’t convert fast enough!), La vie en France v. God only knows what’s going to happen next and I better pay this guy off or I will never get home alive!.

Of course, we are sure that certain things only happen to Indulgence, so imagine the boys faces when Jill turned around one evening while at anchorage in Martinque and exclaimed “Boys, I don’t want to alarm you, but there is a naked woman dancing over there!” All heads turned east, and indeed, in the light of a christmas cockpit was a lady starkers and doing her best to entertain. It was one of those funny, funny moments as the four lads fought over the two sets on binoculars onboard. Denis has photographic evidence available at a reasonable price for those who are interested.

It was though a beautiful, beautiful island and we spent two very pleasant days there, swimming, walking, shopping and enjoying croissants and coffee.

CAPTURED AT SEA

Another eventful moment, which cannot go without mention, must have been our Christmas eve visit to Marigot bay, back in Saint Lucian territory. As we were heading back to the boat via our dinghy, we spotted three people onboard. Along side was another dinghy, with two others and a barking dog. Indulgence was free from anchor and drifting out to sea. It was also clear that whomever was onboard could not start the engine. We did our best, waving and screaming while travelling at the fastest speed our little 5HP outboard could take us. They unfurled the headsail, and we screamed louder!. No good, and we watched Indulgence heading out the harbour. What was going on? We all had an air of despair about us, and the worry truly set it.

Eventually, and it was really did feel like an age, we caught up with the boat. How wrong we were, and how lucky we felt when our new “crew” explained that our anchor had broke loose, and as they were spear fishing, they noticed her heading for the reef. We all jumped onboard, started the engine and went to seek our lost anchor. It was a welcome rum or two when all was recovered, and we invited our three new St Lucian friends Teddy, Box and cousin Con to sail down the coast with us to Soufriers. Sure the excitement was unreal as it was their first time on a yacht, and Teddy and Box decided to join us. Teddy told us about his girlfriend who had passed away and how they both make a living from fishing. Later he decided to tell me a “secret” that the fishing was a front and his whole family were involved in the marijuana trade, as he pointed out stretches of land belonging to his cousin, grandfather, father, step father, brother and so on. They were nice guys and despite Box’s tattoos across their chest of “RIP Game Over” and stories of cousin Con’s prison sentences we enjoyed their company.

We arrived in Soufriers, a small town sitting under the Piton mountains. Of course the boys knew everyone in the town and they advised us to call another friend of theirs called Monster for “local assistance”. While it may seem extreme, the town was too, and we picked up a mooring overlooking a strip of shanty homes with pigs bathing by the river bank and people lazing around in the midday sun. Being the good Catholics that we are are (!) we celebrated midnight mass at the local church, and then celebrated the rest of Christmas eve with Monster and some of his friends drinking rum in Sandy’s bar until the early hours of the morn. As I knew from a previous visit to the Caribbean, they party hard for big celebrations with overnight parties called J’Ouvert which last from dusk until dawn. Soufriers J’ouvert made Trinidad’s carnavalle look like a tea party and when we woke up the following day, we knew it was time to get the hell out of there and to celebrate Christmas day how we imagined it to be in the brochure.

 

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS

And so we headed around the bay to pick up a mooring off the Piton mountains. It rained and it rained hard. Just like Cork we thought, the Christmas swim will be no different this year!. In actual fact it was a bit of a miserable day weather wise, and we really couldn’t step out of the cockpit without being completely dumped upon by the day long monsoon. We cooked shrimps, rack of lamb and had a delicious bannoffee pie to finish it all off.

Secret Santa, the topic of obsession over the past few weeks finally came around. I had been guessing like crazy who got who, so this was my personal highlight of the day. I was however very confused when my secret santa John came out of the bag twice. So was everyone else by the way, and by process of elimination we realised that poor Denis got no present! What??? No Christmas gift??? FAIL!!! For this one, we can only blame Jill who is still mortified for reading “David” instead of “Denis” on her card, and for easily mixing this up with John, who’s real name is David John. Ahhhhhh…….! All was not lost though and Santy turned up a day later with two beautiful black t-shirts in guess what, Denis’ size!


THE MILK RUN
The rest of the milk arrived, and we picked up two new passengers Robert and Kate, who have joined us for two and a half weeks. It’s a Heffernan family gaggle and Kate has already found the best sun spots on the board in her “Operation Mahogonation”

We are now heading south towards Bequia island after a lovely stop in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent yesterday evening.

More updates to continue. Fingers now sore from typing and so are my sides from laughing at the recollection of these silly stories.

 

December 22, 2012

Meet the crew : JILL

WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME?
Jill Sarah Naomi Heffernan

WHERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Sarah is my grandmother’s name. Mum just liked the name Jill. I wish there was a story with it. Do you know dad was going to call his first boat Jill? But Mum stopped him and said they Robert would be jealous. Poor Rob! But in the end the boat was called Vixen.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Cork. Da Bons.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
When I released I had four hours to get to the airport when I was leaving Thailand. I was stressed out. My dad rang me the day before, I thought I was leaving the next day, and then I only noticed that my flight was leaving in four hours. I was so stressed, trying to pack everything into my bag. I even forgot my bikini and I was balling my eyes out. I should have been at work actually yesterday, but I’m here now. Thank God, I got here in the end!.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
I do. But I have horrendous writing on the board. As a teacher, I get a hard time for it and Im left handed so its very slanty.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
None that I know of. But I do have around ten kids in my classroom everyday. I call them my Thai babies. They are darlings.

DO YOU USE SARCASM ALOT?
All the time. Everyday. Me and friend Jo are always using sarcasm. In Thailand there are so many nationalities and we have fun using sarcasm because they don’t understand it. Irish people using sarcasm a lot. I love it.

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
I do.

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Never. 100%. No way.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
I can’t remember the last time I wore shoes with shoe laces. But no, probably not.

WOULD YOU PUT THE MILK INTO THE TEA FIRST, OR LAST?
Last

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
God. *pauses* I suppose their eyes. You can tell if someone is genuine. You can see a smile in someones eye. Yes, this is the first thing I notice.

RED OR PINK?
Red

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
*long pause* god. *pause* My height, I hate being tall. I wish I was a couple of inches smaller. I can’t wear heels. Im 5foot 9″ but feel like a giant in Thailand.

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
Ohhhh mum and dad cause I’m away all the time.

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My granny. Yesterday.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Oh Happy endings. I hate scary movies.

ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES?
Beatles

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
If I have to think of the answer, I probably don’t.

Oh I can put my hands into a prayer shape behind my back. So I guess you could say I have bendy arms and bendy shoulders. What a talent, haha.

And I can talk to the wall, or anybody who is listening, because the wall doesn’t talk back to me. I’m quite flexible.

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Either Hawaii or Thailand.

IF YOUR HOUSE WAS ON FIRE WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE?
Family and I have two big boxes of just letters and pictures and stuff from since I was about ten. So I would save those boxes of memories.

HAVE YOU ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD?
Very happy to be here. Its a once in a lifetime opportunity. Looking froward to Christmas on the beach.

WHERE DID YOU MEET THE REST OF THE CREW ON THIS TRIP?
Papa Hef.

John is like an uncle, I don’t know how long I know him, he is just always been there.

Denis, at a guess, I would say for ten years.

Joleen, I know of you since I was young, but only got to really meet you recently.

And Andy, just in the last few days really.

December 22, 2012

Meet the crew : ANDY

We had the absolute pleasure of having Andy onboard over the past few days on a trip to Martinique. In keeping with the rest of this blog, we decided that all crew, should go through the Indulgence interrogation interview. So here is all you need to know about Andy….


WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME?
Andrew Franklyn Gissing

WHERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
My father and my grandfather, they both had the same name.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Portsmouth. (AKA Gosport – okay, this was added in by John!)

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
When I went home and my daughter jumped on top of me when I surprised her on my birthday.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
No. I think its terribly untidy. It can be read though, it’s just very untidy.

DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
Two. George 16, Alice 14

DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
Do I use sarcasm a lot? *laughs* sometimes, yes!

DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Yes

WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Yes. Haven’t done it before, have done a parachute jump, but never a bungee.

DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
Yes. It’s so I don’t stretch them when I put them back on. That’s a John Lewis trick.

WOULD YOU PUT THE MILK INTO THE TEA FIRST, OR LAST?
Last. Always.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Ohhhhhhh………. I think their eyes. You can a lot about people from their eyes. Honestly and genuineness. You someone smiles, you can see that smile in their eyes.

RED OR PINK?
Red. However, it is an aggressive colour, but pink is very feminine. I prefer red.

WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
Overweight

WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
Secret

WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My mum. She was very pleased to know I was safe and sound, and on dry land. Though this boat is not very dry.

SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings

ROLLING STONES OR THE BEATLES?
Rolling Stones

DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
*nods slowly* I can sail. That is special. And I have patience.

WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Saint Lucia, yeah.

IF YOUR HOUSE WAS ON FIRE WHAT WOULD YOU SAVE?
My family

HAVE YOU ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD?
Material things don’t matter to me. I’m not somebody who collects things ever. For me it’s about relationships. I’ve got lots of friends and that is very special.

WHERE DID YOU MEET THE REST OF THE CREW ON THIS TRIP?
John was through the World Cruising website, whom I meet in Parmo de Varizam. For the rest of you guys, I meet you in Las Palmas when you came out to join the ARC, and Jill in St. Lucia. I was disappointed that you, Joleen turned up because if you had not, there may have been a place for me on this boat doing the ARC or I would have had to go through this interview. But that didn’t happen and I’m glad to be here now.

LASTELY, I HAVE A QUESTION FROM JOHN, SHOULD SLAVERY HAVE BEEN ABOLISHED?
What???? Come on now. No way… that’s a ridiculous question. I’m outta here.

December 18, 2012

Video highlights of our ARC passage

I’ve been itching to get my grip on the video facilities of my new camera, a Nikon D600, which I got my hands on the day before I left on this trip. I really want to experiment and push myself more in this field.

This was shot over the course of the trip. The guys didn’t even know I was shooting video most of the time, so you can imagine they were pretty surprised to see the finished piece.

 

 

December 16, 2012

Have a listen to Aidan, Denis and I chatting about Indulgence and our trip across

We are sitting ashore now, safe and sound after our arrival in Rodney Bay.
As I found out late last night, our last blog never managed to post properly, so I have updated that page with all the moments of our arrival. Pop over here and have a look.
In the meantime, hope you enjoy this audio blog I recorded with Aidan and Denis on our last few days at sea.

December 14, 2012

Mission accomplished. Arrival into St Lucia

Friday, 14th December 2012

Current Position : Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia, Windward islands, Caribbean

A few miles west of Saint Lucia, dawn breaks and John and Denis are sitting on deck with the islands of Saint Lucia in the background. What a scene!

It’s already been an interesting night and we gave it our all, shaking out all reefs, full headsail and powering full steam ahead for our first sight of land in 17 days. Earlier that morning, I had woken up for my watch to see Aidan clutching a transitory radio, tuning into Raggea Santa, tapping the beats on the cockpit and proudly claiming we are only 60 miles away. We watched the Southern Cross pop it’s head over the horizon for the first time on our trip, and this ticked another item off Johns bucket list.

The Piton mountains fully dominated the horizon and we listened to many other ARC boats calling in their position as they too came close to land. As we came closer to the finish line we were joined by Bulbo-Mittio, a Sunfast 43. It really was a race to the end as she came in under spinnaker, but we closed the door on her on the pin end. Its hard to believe that after such a long time at sea that a finish like this would be so close, or even possible.  Also at the finish line was our photo mate Tim Wright, of photoaction, in his little dinghy, who manages to shoot every major regatta in the world including many, many Cork Weeks in Crosshaven. Good man Tim.

On our list of must dos was a SWIM. At last, a glorious swim, and as soon as the sails were folded away, all four of us dived overboard into that warm Caribbean bath of salt water. We should after all let the autopilot do its last bit of work after such a hard passage!

Also spotted was another Cork boat ‘Transendance’ from Kinsale anchored in the bay, so we must find out more about our ‘homies’.

Homies of the Carribbean kind were all around. Greeted by the ARC crew and the island tourist board, with a bottle of Chairmans Reserve St Lucian Rum, and a basket of fresh fruit, including bananas ( in case we were short). There was nothing really that could be done and all we could do was step off the boat, sit on the marina and just look at Indulgence. First the first time ever we were happy to sit on the pontoon and just look at the boat from this side for a change.

Of course the local enterprising Rastas weren’t long turning up and within 30 minutes we met Ryan, offering local crafts, more bananas and other herbal remedies, that we hear may be illegal in other countries. As it turned out, he had an Irish wife, had been to the Guinness Storehouse and kissed Blarney Stone, which we believe to be true, in its entirety.

And now, the day is almost over, still hard to fathom it all again. Delighted to be able to have completed another trans Atlantic. Sleep, more rum, and more stories will continue.

December 11, 2012

Email blackout and the homestretch….

Tuesday 11th December

Current Position: N 15o 26′.155 W 52o 08′.286

Current Speed : 6.5 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 511 nm

* * * * *

Email blackout and the homestretch….

No matter how hard we tried over the past days, we simply could not get the connection between the sat phone and our computer working. No more emails. No more blogging. No more, no more, no more!!!!! Ahhhh…. help, it’s a black out!. Breathe deeply Joleen.

Genuinely though, with the cessation of email communications, I was upset. Very upset. It was like someone decided they were going to cut off my right arm and it made me realise how important communications are to me. I’ve enjoyed bringing you all on this journey with us over the past few weeks, reporting on the days activities and general banter onboard. I’ve now taken to recording more audio blogs, including the sound of the waves at night and a nice interview with Aidan, which will be broadcasted when we get ashore.

For now, this blog post, is an attempt and I really don’t know if our computer and sat phone arrangement will cooperate today. None the less, it will remain in the outbox until we get our next connection. For your own information, lack of emails, also means lack of regular weather reports and we are not sure of our fleet position in the ARC rally.

So, besides the drama of this email outage, crew spirits and activities still remain high. We are on the home stretch now, with just over 500 nautical miles to go to Saint Lucia. For me, the last few days have been more of a reflective time, especially enjoying solitary night watches and chatting to the broleens.

One of our highlights over the past few days, was shortly after our last post, when we crossed the 1,000 miles to go barrier and had endured rain for the entire day. As the night set in, so did calm seas and a warm breeze. We sat in the cockpit and cracked open a bottle of rum and it felt like we were sitting at home in the marina. The party put a completely different meaning to the “Mid Atlantic Drift”.

Techie geekspeak for all of those who are curious. Our auto helm, Colm, is doing a fabulous job. Colm has steered us since we left, without complaint and didn’t at any stage call for union rules at the feeling of being victimised for over work.

To keep our power topped up, we run the engine for two hours in the morning, and again in the evening. The power consumption is low, even though we run our fridge for six hours and have our plotter and auto helm running continuously.

We have found the sweet spot with our sail arrangement. This is a number three reefed main, with same size headsail poled out. Minor sail repairs were carried out yesterday, due to abrasions against the shrouds.

Our food rations are fine. We just ran out of UHT milk today. We have plenty of everything else, including still half a banana plantation, which has gone well beyond ripening point. Several recipes have been endured by the crew. Highest scores goes to the banana bread and lowest to the oven baked bananas wrapped in serano ham. We may get adventurous in the galley again this afternoon and try fried bananas with fish curry.

Speaking of fish, our biggest catch to date was hauled in yesterday. A 8.5kg sail fish, with long blue snout and razor shape teeth was lugged over board by John and Denis. It was honestly, enormous and we now have enough fish steaks to feed a little village.

The conversations for now, remain on the topic of the home stretch and what is the first thing we all want to do when get ashore. John is taking his responsibilities very seriously and will be rushing to check us all in at customs and immigration, while Denis is looking forward to that first rum at the bar and Aidan a nice meal, preferably lobster, or crab and an extra bottle of chilled white wine. For me, all I want is a warm, fresh water shower, clean bedlinen (there has been three bed wettings, but only because the hatches have been left open) and my clothes not to feel crisp with salt. A walk on the beach would also be nice. Only a few more days now…..

December 8, 2012

Singing in the rain

Saturday 8th December

Current Position: N 17o 30′.573 W 44o 12′.916

Current Speed : 7 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 983 nm

* * * * *

It began as a promising morning, with bright blue skies and a salt water shower to start the day. So far, I’ve been smothering myself in factor 50, as red hair and freckles do not agree with the sunshine and this morning called for LOTS of factor foxy. Denis showed us all his guilty pleasure by turning up Frank Sinatra very loud on the mp3 player and dancing in the cockpit with his new sunhat. Priceless moment.

Well, well, well, the day was purely out to fool us all, as ever since we’ve been looking out at rain, rain and more of the same. We all feel right at home.

We passed a milestone today. Less than 1000 nautical miles left on the clock. They are ticking off slowly but surely.

John has been acting as a contortionist in his bunk watching chick flicks. Aidan spent the day cleaning out the bilges. I’ve made fish cakes for supper and Denis is diligintly sitting out in the rain keeping watch.

Our celebratory milestone rum will have to wait for tommorows ‘happy hour’ as its just too miserable to face sitting in the cockpit in these wet conditions.

Congratulations to Aidan’s son Robert Heffernan who correctly guessed who wrote which lines of our poem. Rob, your dad has given you full permission to raid the petty cash at work and treat yourself to a sauna. Ohhhh hang on, he has just shouted out to me there is a clause, maximum value of €25. Tough boss! The lines by the way were written by 1. John, 2. Aidan, 3. Denis and 4. Joleen.