Above photo…. Poli Poli in the boat yard at Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne up until Saturday 18th May this year. She went back in the water and we left for a south coast “shakedown sail” on Wednesday 22nd May… visiting Brighton, Hamble Le Rice, Poole Harbour, Portland, Dartmouth, Salcombe and finally to Plymouth arriving on the 28th May. Six sailing days from Eastbourne.
Tomorrow, Sunday 2nd June 2019, Toby, Peter and Chris will set sail from Plymouth in a rally fleet of 18 sailing boats. We will start from the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club, below the Citadel on Plymouth Hoe.
Once we have navigated the entrance to Plymouth Harbour, passed the big breakwater, we will set sail across the Bay of Biscay and head for Baiona in north west Spain. This will be a great adventure as we cross 550 nautical miles in 5/6 days of continuous sailing… so no stops, no marinas, no cafes and no showers….and no getting off!
Having arived in Plymouth from Eastbourne on the 28th May… we were there for four prep’ days until we left for the Biscay on Sunday 2nd June. These were busy, hectic days mainly ensuring that we complied with all the ARC safety equipment and regulations. Poli Poli was checked over by Andrew Bishop … the chief ARC Portugal 2019 member of their team, on the Friday morning. We were required to be compliant in three areas…. the safety tethers, washboard and an emergency VHF radio aerial. In between all this activity we frequented Jolly Jacks restaurant for coffee and our evening meal. Brother John who lives in Tamerton Foliat, just outside Plymouth visited early on Friday morning 31st May to collect our old liferaft which did not meet the ARC safety standards. Thank you John…. hope you enjoyed the late breakfast at Jolly Jacks afterwards.
All three of us ( Toby, Chris and Peter ) attended the Skipper’s briefing at the Plymouth Albion Rugby Club on the Saturday evening …. a short walk from the Mayflower Marina. Chris Tibbs…. a well known national and international sailor of some repute delivered a detailed weather briefing for the Bay of Biscay crossing starting the next day, 9am Sunday.
There was much debate after the weather briefing amongst Skippers and crew. Chris Tibbs had made a point re the position of the jet stream over the Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay. In summary it seemed that we would set out from Plymouth with head winds on the Sunday, Monday would see a cold front passing through the fleet, Tuesday a depression would appear ( advice was given to seek shelter in Brittany if close to Ushant) and then conditions off Cape Finnistere needed to be looked at very carefully on arrival in the area. As it turned out…. Storm Miguel arrived sweeping in from the Atlantic. More about this later.
At 5.30am the crew of Poli Poli started the prep’ work to get ready for sailing at 7.45am . A grey, cloudy day…. a chilly start on a Sunday morning. Sunday the 2nd of June, 2019 had finally arrived. The start of Arc Portugal 2019 with 18 boats present in Plymouth.
With Chris at the helm, we departed our berth in the Mayflower Marina at exactly 7.45am…. giving ourselves and hour and a quarter to motor down to the starting line below the Royal Citadel on Plymouth Hoe.
It was to be a proper racing start with flag signals, countdowns and a loud hooter! All the boats did circles behind the start line, all with their mainsails hoisted, seeking out the best position to get the best approach and start over the line. The whole event was managed by the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club with the line from their flagstaff accross to the end of the Mount Batten breakwater. Poli Poli held back, not wishing to get mixed up in the crush of boats all heading for the narrow start gap. Peter helmed Poli Poli acoss the line. We crossed third from last!