12. Corona!

It is Easter time and everything has progressed according to plan. The house is sold, my oldest son Morgan has moved into his own apartment, I have announced my plans to cast off to my employer and colleagues and my youngest son Daniel and I have been enrolled into the ARC starting on 22 November 2020 from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. ARC, Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, is an organized race across the Atlantic where 200+ boats take comfort in the support offered by the organizers and the fact that they all leave at the same time, from the same place and that they are all aiming for St Lucia in the Caribbean. Our reasons for taking part in the race have more to do with the social activities offered before and after the race than the safety aspect as you are unlikely to see any of your fellow contenders other than during the first day of the crossing.

The boat work is also progressing. I went to Tropea in February together with Florian from Edelstahl Haese in Berlin. I met Florian at the boat show in Dusseldorf and was impressed with their experience with building custom made equipment arches for boats located all across Europe. We agreed to fly to Tropea to take all the measurements he needed to design a stainless steel arch that not only looks good but that can carry solar panels, davits for a dinghy and an outboard engine, antennae for AIS, GPS and an Iridium Go satellite telephone at the same time as it offers protection from the sun at the helm and lighting for the cockpit. A true Kinderegg.

Equipment arch in production

I have also asked the yard in Tropea to change the teak decking as it has started to detach from the glass fiber below at several places. An expensive job that probably is not entirely necessary yet but it will feel really good to move on to a boat that looks its best. On top of this I shipped the sails to North Sails in Genoa for repair and washing and sourced a complete new electrical installation from Victron in Berlin that will be installed by a local electrician in Tropea.

So, everything was moving along with an Easter trip to Tropea planned together with Florian to install the equipment arch and deliver the electrical equipment to Fabrizio, the electrician. All with an aim to leave Tropea at the end of June and head for Gibraltar, Madeira and the Canary Islands. At present though, I am spending Easter in Stockholm, more or less under quarantine and not even able to travel over the bridge to Denmark. Never mind driving a bunch of stuff through Europe to the south of Italy. I do of course realise that I am lucky to have sold the house before the pandemic and that I and everyone I know remain reasonably healthy but this Corona thing is seriously messing with my plans! I have a boat standing on the hard at a shipyard that is closed, a stainless steel structure in Berlin, sails in Genoa and electrical equipment somewhere between China and Europe. With two and a half months to go it is looking less likely that I will be ready to leave Tropea as planned. In fact, they probably need anything up to two months in Tropea to get the boat ready once all is up and running again. At present I am planning for a 1 September departure. Anything later than that will probably mean that I will keep the boat on the hard in Tropea and postpone the whole thing until May or so in 2021.

The way I see it, leaving Tropea in the beginning of September will give me the following options:

  1. I could rush to Las Palmas in time for the ARC start. That would be stressful as you have to be there a week before the start and it is 2000 Nm to get there. The weather conditions between Gibraltar and the Canaries also get a lot less reliable towards the end of October/beginning of November and sailing 2000 Nm alone in rough conditions may not be the best way to prepare for taking a crew another 3000 Nm over three weeks only a week later.
  2. I could take it a little slower and go via Madeira and arrive in the Canaries after the ARC. This would probably mean rougher weather between Madeira and the Canaries but probably more reliable trade winds across the Atlantic due to a later start. It will also enable a stop at Cape Verde on the way. And I would still get us to the Caribbean in January with months to enjoy these cruising grounds before the hurricane season starts at the end of May.
  3. I could do the same thing but take it easier in the Canaries go via Cape Verde, Brazil, French Guayana and Suriname and arrive in the Caribbean a year later in December 2021, in time to enjoy a whole season there.
  4. I could stay a year in the Canaries. This will probably make me restless though. Many grand plans of circumnavigation have also come to an end in an all too comfortable marina somewhere in the Canary Islands.
  5. I could sail in the Mediterranean until November or so before finding a marina for the winter months. Possibly somewhere like Barcelona.

At present, options 2 or 3 sounds most appealing but with a world under quarantine there is no point planning and preparing further. I guess it is back to dreaming for the moment.

Stay healthy all.

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