That’s it! We’ve signed up!

On Sunday after a few drinks at home, sat on the couch, slightly inebriated on homemade cocktails we signed up to the ARC 2018. Seemed like a good idea at the time! Signing up to the ARC is like adding a wax seal to a contract between us and Excalibur to take her 4,600 miles from London to the Caribbean..

In theory we’ll need to be in the Canaries with Excalibur next November, ready to sail the St Lucia for Christmas 2018. Wohoo!

We didn’t need to sign up to a rally, and once out in the ocean we won’t see a bean, but the safety checks, lectures and social aspect of the rally make the whole trip that more enjoyable.

Having done the crossing as crew before I’m starting to wonder how I’ll deal with the challenges I’ll face as skipper. It’s a lot easier crewing on a trip like this, blissfully unaware of what goes on behind the scenes that a skipper has to deal with, that the crew don’t see. Still, I take solace from what one sailor told me a few years ago “You could throw a bouncy castle off the Gran Canaries and it would end up in the Caribbean” so I’m sure we’ll be fine 🙂

I speak for myself here, but it hasn’t really sunk in. I have a todo list in my head, and none of it involves planning our route to the Canaries right now. I can only focus on the here and now. We have a  lot of work to do! My house renovation is coming to an end, and will be ready to rent out at the beginning of next year. Trina’s flat sale is still going through, and that will need some work.

Excalibur is in Gosport and needs to be in St Katharine Docks in London by the 1st of November, and of course Excalibur will need to be ocean ready by next June. So it’s all happening! I have a rough plan in my head that we’ll be in London until the end of April, take the boat out of the water in May, and then start making our way to Falmouth in June. We’ll need to ideally cross Biscay by the end of July.

Trina jokes she still needs to learn to sail, and I joke I still need to learn to sail. Fact of the matter is I’ve got faith in our abilities as a team to get ourselves safely to the Caribbean. What we don’t know now we’ll pick up along the way. Our aim is to do both the Biscay crossing and the Atlantic crossing with no additional crew. Biscay will be a good test to see whether we need a third crew member. With only the two of us on board our shifts will be shorter, and while it’s true a third crew member would enable us to have longer downtime, there’s a part of me that wants to see if we can do this on our own. There’s plenty of couples and single handed sailors out there who sail oceans (though I’m not sure how they do it), so I think we’ll be fine. I’ll keep an open mind, and see what happens.

Keeping an open mind, and seeing what happens is not a bad way to describe both our outlook on this adventure. Should we find our piggy banks are insufficient for a year off, or we have boat/house issues, we’ll still head to Spain but perhaps postpone the ARC. That’s not to say we’re doing any of this halfheartedly. We have our goal and we’ll do our best to make it happen.

What we do after we arrive at St Lucia is anyone guess, but hitting the bar will be at the top of our agenda no doubt. We’ll have plenty of time on the crossing to think about where we’d like to head to. My heads chockablock with boat and house jobs to worry about the luxury of where to sail to after St Lucia.

The house and boat have been priority above all else for the last couple of years. I’ve declined more social events and holidays than I care to imagine. My stock response has been “sorry I’m working on the boat this weekend” “sorry I’m at the house this weekend”.  So I look forward to arriving back in St Kats come November, and start reviving my social life (though on a budget). If only time and money were no object!

Anyhow, 1st November. Drinks onboard anyone? 🙂



Author: Tim Butler

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