Thursday, 10 December 2015

A question inspired by Alpaire


Congratulations on your crossing and exciting for observers as you raced for 2nd place.

I have a HR48 and will be crossing in Jan 2017.  I very much enjoyed reading the blog of your ARC crossing and  would like to know more about the twin headsail setup.  I had discounted the twin jibs as we have spreaders that allow the boom to go well out,  but your commentary favours twin headsails. What size were your headsails, I believe they were similar sizes?  On the HR48, do you think this setup would work with 140% and 108% in the same groove?
I too have a furling assymetric and think its a wonderful sail.

Thank you
David Bowes

If you have any comment please pass it on via the comments section and we'll make sure David gets it.

A few photos from the race itself

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A couple of pictures from social media

A few beers with the other Paddies

Hello St. Lucia!

Alpaire Last Day - the end

Well we got here. We are now in Rodney Bay St Lucia. We finished this afternoon. We had a fantastic run over the last 48 hours with a good favourable breeze all the way to the finish,. We took 16 days 3 hrs 41 minutes and 49 seconds, 3rd in our class. That is a very good time for a cruising boat like a HR 48. It is also fairly unusual to sail all the way without use of engine. As far as we can see most of the boats ahead of us were bigger or more racy. In fact many boats larger than us are still at sea,  Discovery 55s, Oysters etc.

St Lucia is a small island 25 miles North to South. If has very steep mountains which are no doubt as a result of volcanic eruptions. The highest is 3,117  feet, 950 mtrs so as high as Carantuohill but steeper. We were sure that the Easterly winds would bend to South Westerly and accelerate at the Northern end of the Island. We could therefore afford to sail a higher course on starboard gybe as we made our approach. The Northern tip is clean and we sailed close to it in seventeen meters. The swell subsided past the tip. We dropped our two spinnaker poles, rounded Pidgeon island, and close reached to the finish in Rodney Bay. The entrance to the lagoon is a dredged narrow channel. The marina there is very sheltered.

The temperature in the afternoon here when we finished was close to 30 degrees. There were a few rain squalls but they were irrelevant. We were greeted on the way in by Liam Cavanagh and his partner Liz who came out to meet us in a small rib with an Irish flag. They had sailed the "Arc plus" via the Cape Verde Islands. They had a bit of bother and arrived in St Lucia at the weekend.

We finished just after Bam and Taistealai, we nearly caught both. We got to meet each later. Conor Fogarty skipper of Bam has done over 20 trans Atlantics and 100s of thousands of miles at sea on all sorts of high performance boats. Some of you may know Daragh Heagney one of his crew who used to sail on a 1720. They ran out of water but still had UHT milk. Chris Tibbs's wife is Irish hence the name Taistealai which means Travellers as many of you pointed out. They could not understand how we could sail so deep. They were carrying a spinnaker.

I am sure there are many stories to be told by the other boats. On Alpaire the skippers favourite phrase was "belay that rope". Let's hope that he does not get belayed ashore in the next few days.

In a last desperate attempt to catch a fish Des put a spanner on the spinner. One of Lidl's best. The idea was to sink the lure. However all aspirations to catching another fish were consigned to Davy Jones locker. When we arrived at the dock we saw Marlene F tied up with multiple fish tails strung up. They had two large fishing rods set up on the stern, so had many other boats. In the bar we met the crew of the Finnish boat Mearra Nieida. Mearra means the sea in the  language of the Lapps. They showed us photos of the Mahi Mahi and tuna that they had caught. I think that we have got a bit to learn, for the next time!

The danger is that we now become a bunch of "when Is" ie "when I was on the ARC". In order to eliminate all risk of this nostalgic possibility we watched Casablanca in the saloon over dinner and a glass of wine. Here's looking at you kid means something else after 2,600 miles across the Atlantic!

Thank you all for your reactions to our blog. We enjoyed putting it together and I know many of you enjoyed reading it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Alpaire Day 15

Just 217 miles to go at noon. We covered 176 in the 24 hours to then. Furia 174, Taistealai 177, Bam 166 and Crackerjack 183. Does anybody know if Taistealai means something in any language? One suggestion is a journey in Scots Gaelic. (Note from Editor: It means Travellers but is commonly used to describe those undertaking a journey rather than a member of the travelling community as Gaeilge {lucht siúil if anyone is interested})

We assume that you are enjoying good weather by now. In accordance with the Confucious theory of the World in Balance you should be, because we had plenty of rain showers last night. It is such a pain putting on the water proofs!

Our destination in St Lucia is Rodney Bay. It is called after Admiral Sir George Rodney. He defeated the French fleet at the Battle of The Saints in the Caribbean just South of Guadaloupe circa 150 miles North of St Lucia. That was in 1782, and was one of the few successes of the British in the American War of Independence. He brought with him a young Scottish man Gilbert Blane as his personal physician. Blane (later Sir) studied all that was written about scurvy and in particular the works of James Lind and the advice of Cook. He advised Admiral Rodney how to avoid scurvy. As a result  of implementing these policies the crews of the Bitish ships in the Caribbean were fighting fit and it was a significant factor in the battle against the French. Blane's personality, social standing and relationship with Admiral Rodney led to the Admiralty adopting anti scurvy regimes in all their ships. This policy change was a major advantage when blockading the French ports and at the Battl  e of Trafalgar. As a consequence Napoleon was unable to invade Britain.

As this is one of the last blogs that I will write I wanted to mention cardio exercise for future reference. Anybody planning a long ocean voyage should consider it. The boat is moving all the time and we unconsciously move our bodies in harmony, but that is not cardio. I found that the most practical and safe cardio exercise is to stand in the middle of the saloon athwartships holding the edge of the chart table and do squats. Half an hour of vigorous squats in 28 degrees of heat in the cabin will have you knackered. It is also good for getting into shape for skiing.

The ship's company are very focused on aviation matters. Perhaps it is because we saw Peter Pan lose his nerve and keep both feet on the deck during the early hours of Sunday.  They have come up with two important innovations. One will help many seafarers and marinas in future and the other is likely to be of substantial benefit to the Irish economy. I am particularly excited by the latter as it could lead to a Nobel Prize for Economic Innovation for my colleagues.

Some on board are very concerned that the Rib Dingy, unlike the ship's company, is going a little soft. In future it will be filled with helium. This will have the added benefit of lightening the stern of the boat and counterbalancing the weight of the engine so that we can take the waves better. It should also save space in marinas because we will be able to tie the painter to the spinnaker halyard.

The second idea is, I think, particularly promising. We are planning to cross the flying fish from Atlantic tropical waters with mackerel in the Irish seas. We will then develop the new sport of shooting flying mackerel. If you hit them in the air they no longer count as fish so they should be exempted from EU fishing quotas. As Ireland's maritime waters are circa eight times the land mass we have a lot of potential. Please keep this idea to yourself as Des is planning to get Lucinda to include it in her manifesto.

The otherwise idle members of the crew have come up with a new collective noun for Mahi Mahi, a snigger. That is what they do hiding under the boat when we put out our lines! I have no more to write about fishing!

Joxer advises that the smell of rum is not wafting up wind from the Caribbean. Rather it is the crew acting with the knowledge that the stocks will soon be replaced. The ships rules are: one beer or glass of wine per person per day, no spirits. The skipper is afraid that any more might result in the crew becoming (even more) delusional. I fear the search for the cause of the delusions is rather like the search for a cure for scurvy, it will take a couple of hundred years at least!

All the best from the good ship Alpaire.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Messages to the crew (Part 10)

Tadhg Pearson

It's funny to read about the tranquility of the ocean... it's quite the contrast from this busy office in Bangalore!

Alpaire Day 14

Now two weeks at sea and only 393 miles to go according to the ARC control noon stats. We did 177 miles in the 24 hours noon to noon. Furia 188, Taistealai 174, Bam 163, Crackerjack 185. We are taking the shifts and downwind tacking along the rhumb line. The computer routing using the downloaded grib files suggest staying a little to the North on starboard gybe using the current wind which is North of East. The wind is expected to shift East with a bit of South East, so staying on starboard gybe should give a faster leg into the finish. That is if the wind shifts. In any event the forecast is that we will hold the breeze to the finish. We are taking a book on when that might be. The best estimate is midnight on Tuesday 8th December, or the early hours of the 9th - 2015 of course.

Jan writes: "I can see that have and have-not are on opposite poles to each other as it were, conceptually. I draw a line and I put an arrow head at each end. But I fail to grasp what it is that specific members of the crew have or have not been stroking. Please clarify." Well yet again Yan and Ying. The clue was the cotton wool for Santa Clause. The reason that you are not stroking yours in a Confucious like fashion is that it has clearly been some time! Confucious he say: he who strokes his, can think like me!

Ronan writes: "In 1601 Captain James Lancaster an English sailor performed an experiment on the prevention of scurvy. On one of four ships bound for india he prescribed three teaspoons of lemon juice a day for the crew.By the halfway point 110 men out of 278 had died on the other three ships. Everyone had survived on the lemon supplied ship. It took another 194 years for the Royal Navy to enact new dietary guidelines, and it wasn't until 1865 that the merchant fleet created similar guidelines. Not an example of black box thinking!" Actually Lancaster had been commissioned by the East India Company and it is thought that he knew about the benefits of lemon juice because he had grown up in Portugal. The benefits of lemons became known in the merchant fleets and in fact the Dutch East India Company even maintained citrus plantations at key stops such as Mauritius and the Cape of Good Hope. Then the good times for the East India Companies faded. The accountant's introduced Auster  ity (and possibly water charges!). By the time that naval ships began to travel on long voyages the knowledge was forgotten.

Peter Pan was up to his old tricks last night. I came off watch at mid-night. However at circa 03:45 (UTC/GMT) the said Peter was dancing in his normal graceful fashion on the foredeck hatch over my head. Anxious to finally get a glimpse of Tinkerbelle I peered out and realised that she had escaped, and that he was chasing the clue of one of our jibs. It had frayed through where it was led through the spinnaker pole end. The recovery was not so easy because when both jibs are rolled together the clew is too high to reach when standing at the bow. For some reason Peter's aviator's skills had deserted him at that moment. Perhaps it was a confidence issue. He preferred to use the boat hook and keep his feet on deck. You gotta believe if you wanna fly! We were back on track and in the race again by 04:30.

I went back to my bunk and was on watch again at 06:00 UTC/GMT. As we are now at 55 degrees West local time was approx 02:00. My watch was uneventful except for a few shooting stars, our friends the planets and the Moon. Jupiter had risen early in the East. The Moon, as reported yesterday, rose on its ear, followed some time later by Venus. All three were in a perfect vertical line equally spaced apart. Mars rose a little before the Moon but in the North East. The four of them were like a giant triangular sail of a ship in the sky following us, Mars being the clew.

Des identified a black-browed albatross that came to look at our fishing lines this morning. Even it was not tempted. We read from the Collins bird book that it is the only albatross likely to be seen in the N Atlantic. It is a bit like a gannet but described in the book as clearly heavier and more long winged than a g.

It is with deep regret that I must announce, on behalf of the skipper, that Sam has tendered his resignation as Minister for Fisheries. Sam refused to comment on speculation that he is following his heart's desire. He is to become Patron of the Royal Society for the Protection of Maritime Fishes in Tropical Waters of the North Atlantic between Latitudes 12N to 30N for the Lunar Months of November and December. In future he is to be referred to as his Honour the Patron of the RSftPoMFiTWotNAbL12Nt30nftLMoNaD for short. As this is a newly established organisation, a bit down on its heels, he is to borrow the Crown Emblem from the Royal Irish Yacht Club Ensign.

It is understood that Sam's position became more difficult each day as Marlene F recounted all the fish that they had caught. Some of the other boats on the SSB net think that she is a factory ship!

All the best from the good ship Alpaire.