Saturday, 13 July 2013

Preparations to cross Biscay.

Getting ready for a big move requires a fair bit of preparation and planning. The boat and crew need to be completely self sufficient for the period of the passage which may of course last longer than planned due to all sorts of things, not least the weather.


Watching the forecast for a window to move can become frustrating in the run up to a passage, too much wind, not enough wind, too much swell, swell from the wrong direction and so on. For a journey of over a hundred miles it becomes even more complicated as the weather for more than one area has to be taken into account, we have been stuck before in perfect weather because the conditions would have been dangerous at the destination.


Weather aside there are other things to consider such as food. For some reason the deckhands have a tendency to want to eat almost constantly when we are travelling (apart from the one who tends to get sea sick) so lots of snacks are required – cereal bars, seeds and dried fruit, crackers, rice cakes (yuck!) and other nibbles, Mark and I also ‘require’ large quantities of chocolate, my excuse is its for energy. Planning for meals means food which can be prepared and eaten easily and is not too harsh for those with more sensitive digestion, we like pasta and sauce packets or jars for main meals whilst brioche is a current favourite for travelling lunches. More than once the cook has emerged from the galley on a bumpy journey no longer wanting to eat the meal they have just prepared. Most important perhaps is the flask of hot water so we can have lots of mugs of tea.


 We have various things which need to be packed away when we are moving - a couple of ornaments, a big picture, some of the kitchen gadgets - and other things which need to be got out – waterproofs, useful tools, jackstays. There is also the emergency grab bags with all sorts of useful bits for survival, rescue and comfort and things we just want to keep safe like the hard drives with all our photos and occasionally a couple of teddies climb in too! Obviously planning a journey where you could be 35 miles from land is slightly different to a coast hop where you may be only a couple of miles out.


All hands join in to get the boat ready for moving on .We have a check list in a notebook whenever we are moving to ensure that everything is properly done and we can keep track of what still needs to be prepared. The children are really good at helping by picking out jobs from the list they can do like filling the water bottles, checking lifejackets and making sure rooms are packed away properly. We all learned fairly quickly that a badly arranged bookcase will end up all over the floor in lumpy seas.



One of the other jobs is letting someone know what we are up to. In Britain the coastguard like you to radio them if you are travelling on passage with the details, since we left Britain this shore contact role has been taken up by our parents to whom we are very grateful and apologise for worrying them at times or confusing them with our frequent changes of plan.


The last things to be put away are the fenders and ropes as we move off away from the pontoon, stored away for two days until we arrive at our new destination after an incredible dolphin and shooting star filled trip across Biscay.


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