Jonathan Pudney ARC 2007

Log of Jonathan Pudney's ARC crossing. We were on the ARC from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, to St Lucia and all of us were ISC members- Jonathon Pudney, Jim Hartley, Rollo Pyper and Tom Trevelyan - written by Tom Trevelyan. Here are some of the letters I sent home via the trusty Iridium satphone link. What a boon. Just enough contact to keep me cheerful, and not enough for any irritations to reach me. Excellent.

The vessel was a 47 ft cat belonging to Jonathon Pudney. Built by Catana who make the BMWs of the cruising cat world. She was a bit special, as you can see in the Day 14 extract of this slightly self centred diary.

I attach some pics but there is a range to choose from so if you want something else.

Day 5
Hi Ni- hope you are well and things are ok. We sent you a brief mail 2 days ago but with the wrong address. Sorry. This just to say we are doing fine. I have only been sick once and had constant nausea for 4 days so it can' be bad. But to be honest today I am loads better and made a proper Astrea lunch for the boys and me. Yum yum. We are tramping along today and are pointing our nose exactly at St Lucia after 3 days going south for better wind. Only 2000 miles to go- nothing really. We do about 150 miles a day so its not going to happen next week. Sorry to tell you but the temp is 27 deg as I write this. I love you loads and miss my lovely life at Itchenor and all my girls and boys. Please hug them all for me when you see them. xxx T

Day 6
Good old Jonathon has done great update on the blog (ARC 2007) so there is not much to add. I took a pic of the sunrise yesterday as it was the first day I had got up without feeling sick. Marvellous. I truly know what it must be like to be on chemo and be sick all the time. Takes all the fun out of life. I don't know how people do it. All power to them. Since the departure of the big N- my old adversary, nausea, we have been eating like horses. I have done my two recipes already so it will be pure invention from now. Don't invite yourself for lunch! Yes, at night the sky is simply wonderful, when you can see it. The stars are in their millions, clear and bright, and the Milky Way seems so close you could touch it. No planes to spoil it by moving across like an unwanted guest. Just deep deep space and a sense of the overwhelming majesty of the whole thing, with us so insignificant, so transient and so out of touch with the forces that create it all. Got a good movie of lots and lots of dolphins playing around the bow, shooting this way and that, only coming up to the surface as an afterthought when they need air, but really it's a nuisance, can't be bothered, oh well do it and get on again. They are so suited to where they live. And I am so unsuited to it. I would survive about 1 minute in their home on my own. So why are we doing it? Why not stay in our natural habitat, DRY LAND! There may be a moral there somewhere. Night watch I find scary. We are barrelling along at 8, 9, maybe 10 knots and the clouds come up behind, do they have wind in them and if so what will I do? It all pans out ok, but I'd rather stick to daytime, thank you. Perhaps that is why I have been sent this trip, to face some fears. It all passes and anyway the best approach is to accept I can't control it all, whatever will be, will be. More fun that way too.

Big moment- we passed 1000 miles done, 1700 to go now. Still seems like absolutely ages to go, but a milestone does help. I love all you wonderful family at home, look after yourselves and I can't wait to get back. Thank you all for making life fun. Do forward this to my/our 5 and others as you think fit. Anyone replying, please start a new mail, not the reply button, as we pay $2 a minute and it takes 30 secs just to send this. xxxxxxs Tom and Dad

Day 11
What a genius you are- we were stuck in light southerlies as you wrote your last. You have been officially installed as Forecaster to Wind Belle, especially as the official forecasts completely failed to mention the fact that we would have 36 hrs of southerly followed by 12 hrs of dead calm. We are all amazed. And to cap it, this am we received from Sophie a detailed prediction for the next 3-4 days which is much better than the official ones. It was headed by the advice- stay where you are boys, the wind you want will be with you by morning- and it was! How do you girls do it?

Technically, a southerly is OK cos we are going basically west and can reach across a southerly. But it does help if it has a bit of weight in it, which it hasn't. So our daily mileage has not been so good for the last 2 periods, as you will see from our slower progress.

Great excitement today as the fishing line started to rush out. Wow. Jonathon got all hyper excited and so did Rollo. We slowed the boat for them and they quickly landed a gorgeous big fish, all the colours of the rainbow, officially measured at 87 cm long- would just fit across one of those new tables. We think its a Dorado and will now have to eat it. Pity. I was really looking forward to my cooking tonight- bangers, mash and baked beans. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

The next meal is the high point of each day so I am afraid I won't be any smaller on return. Too bad. Another tooth has broken- I'll be sans teeth at all soon- might you have time to see if our charming dentist could book me in? Friday the 21st or Wednesday the 19th would do.

Sent Clare a suitably profound reply to her philosophical advice and had great fun doing so. Thank whoever is in charge, for my lovely family. Sorry to tell you, but the sun is now too hot to sit in- its a case of finding strategies, to avoid it and the heat generally. The sense of insignificance under the stupendous starry sky continues to humble me. We know so little, and always will. Xx T

Day 14
Hi Ant and Pud
So far most of our daily runs have been 150-170nm, with a couple over 200- best was 214 on the first full 24 hrs, aided by a big squall down the side of Gran Canaria. We had all plain sail up and the water went flat from the rain. We don't have true wind speed but we saw 16.4 knots boat speed on the GPS plus 20+ apparent wind so it must have been pushing 40kn. Jim was steering and just held on tight dead downwind. This vessel has 3 outstanding pluses. First, minimal rolling, which is great on this long downhill trip. Things usually stay where you put them and the stove is not gimballed and we still have great dinners. Didn't stop me having four days of constant nausea and no food- morning of the 5th day I will not forget as I saw the sun come up and was feeling fine for the first time. Took a pic to celebrate. Second, she has pays no regard to theoretical max hull speed. The stronger it blows, that faster she goes. 47ft on the w/l, we often see 10s and 12s on the speedo and reaching is a blast- 8kn this am in about 12kn of wind. One night Rollo handed over to me with the laconic remark that we were blast reaching. We were. Steady as a rock, dry as a bone, all plain sail, and 12-13 knots of boat speed. And down below all I was aware of, was a steady hissing. She is some vessel.

Third, she is really well equipped and fitted out. No leaks, goes without saying, and all the systems you could want. No 1 is the generator which we have used about 6-8 hours per day. You can hardly hear it and it uses about 1.5 l/hr. Thus 400 litres of fuel are not half gone yet. We are steering on average about 1 hr per day, and only to pass the time, or satisfy Rollo's competitive instincts. George does the rest. Watermaker is just luxury- we can fill one of the 220 l tanks in about 90 mins. So no worries about the showers. Rollo is the washer up and my, does he wash. Nothing will stop him running the tap. He says it's best we let him do the washing up as we would not want to eat his cooking. We are getting on nicely thank you in the same bed. He has stopped coming out of the shower all spick and span, saying he is ready for me now. Thank goodness. But seriously, there is a 5ft bolster down the middle which makes keeping to your half no prob.

The weather has been less steady than I expected, and the forecasts have all completely missed 2 separate days we have spent in next to no wind. Both later turned out to be caused by troughs that became depressions but the boffins have only spotted it after the event. That goes for the official ARC forecast, the NOAA charts, and grib files from Sophie- we haven't cracked getting them direct as this email provider thinks they are spam. But generally, email via Iridium has given us as much weather info as we could ask for- it just hasn't kept us out of the calms all the time. But it has enabled us generally to keep in the good winds apart from those 2 days. The beauty of this vessel is you just want more and more wind on this downhill passage because all that happens is you go faster and faster. If we could have had 25-30 every day we would have loved it and would have been there in 13 days perhaps. You'd love it, Pud.

A kite would also have helped tho no use in 25+ knts. But the Solent has been great- a nice powerful sail for a nice powerful hull. A neat trick is the reefing- all led back to the cockpit, including the tack downhauls so no one goes forward and zip! the main is manageable again. And I do like power winches- old man that I am.

We lost the Solent halyard up the mast and re rigged it on the spi halyard. But we were constantly afraid to use it as the spi one was too small. So someone had to go up. Jonny and Rollo were never going to volunteer both by their words, and by the look on their faces. Jim is the oldest so I knew it had to be me. Pah! I chickened out before the first spreaders. Bring me down please! Jim went straight up and sorted it in a trice. Impressive. I really will do it one day, oh yeah. Have enjoyed the Atlantic chart in oblique conformal projection, whatever that is. Grt circle route is a straight line. Easy.

On present projection we will finish tomorrow at dawn, roughly. Lets hope we don't either hit St Lucia, or else just sail right on by. Dorado have bitten on the slow days- splendid big fish. For Nita, killing them with rum is the quickest and kindest- into the gills, it acts like IV anaesthetic and they go out like a light. Can't do it too many times as Jim is complaining. And he and Jonny make us laugh as the white and pink wine seems to have run out and no on can explain why. Funny, that.

Have had fun helping keep all the stuff working. The genset cooling went awol and I found a lot of gunge in the sea water inflow which amused me to remove. George has received some tlc just to make sure he is not wanting anything. He is a bit of a VIP around here. We tried to make the stbd shower drain quicker but only succeeded in wasting time. The fridge, which I could probably sleep in, is in line for a serious clean up before Sophie gets here. It is DISGUSTING at the moment. Ditto the port heads we are all sharing, apart from Jonny in the starboard stateroom quarters.

Otherwise it is a lot of sitting in the shade nattering while the miles roll by. Day time, that is. Nights, I have been having trouble with as its been moonless or cloudy and the clouds usually bring rain and wind but you can't know which one, till it happens. So I spend a lot of time nervously waiting to see what will happen. Usually, nothing happens. And so it goes on. Bim's iPod is a boon but doesn't stop me fussing. But it is getting better. Jim and Rollo are not worried at all. Oh no, if a smart gust blows the Solent to bits, they'll be fine. Not me tho.

Bad me- I let down a centreboard without taking a turn around the winch. Bad idea, Tom. I couldn't control it and it went bang to the bottom of the slot. I couldn't raise it again. Stuck. Oh dear. Jammed by the rope on the top and threatening to crush the control line turning block. No amount of winching and hauling on another halyard would shift it. How could I tell Jonny I had buggered his board? With Rollo's help we cut the top rope, avoiding cutting the control line which would have sent it plunging 4000m to the bottom of the Atlantic and no spares in the Caribbean. Bad, bad. While I was musing, I heard a creak and with the ear of faith could believe it came from the slot. But no sign of movement. So I marked the top with a pencil and came back 5 mins later. Whew. Under the greatest tension from the control line, on the biggest winch wound as tight as I dare, it was microscopically inching up, about 0.1 mm at a time, with each rock and roll of the boat. At last it came clear. I won't do that again.

Stop press- ARRIVED!!!!. Tuesday 9 am ish your time. 15 days 20 hrs overall. We crossed the line 32nd out of 250 though how that will correct out, we don't know- or care much, actually.

Now back to the real world. Can we go back please? Xx