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And we’re off…

January 10, 2017

Finally, we’re off!
Right. In order to ensure that I don’t incur the further wrath of Mrs Jeckells (senior) because I haven’t written a blog recently and therefore she has no idea what here son is up to, this is to let you all know what we’ve been up to over the past few days.
Tantrum is currently in Marina Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Steve and Linda moved her there a couple of days after I left them. They then flew home to Christmas with their family before returning here for New Year. Julia and I them here on 4 January, flying out from Gatwick on easyJet. As has become our habit, we stayed in a Premier Inn at the airport before we flew out. We had spent Christmas at our niece Anna’s house with just about all the extended family and New Year with Naomi, leaving our car there.
Since we arrived on board, there’s been a succession of jobs to be finished before we sail as well as a plethora of briefings, seminars and social events to attend.
First off, perhaps it’d be a good idea to explain the Cornell Caribbean Odyssey. The event is organised by Cornell Sailing, a set up run by Jerry Cornell who seems to have spent most of his life sailing. The basic idea is that a group of boats, all of whom want to cross the Atlantic assemble in Tenerife where they are given guidance on ocean sailing, route planning, weather forecasts and the like. Cornell sailing also arrange marina berths both in Tenerife and in Barbados, along with help with the arrival formalities there. They also monitor yacht positions during the event and will assist with advice and sending aid if required in an emergency. There is a web page tracking the progress of boats, which will go live when we depart: http://cornellsailing.com/sail-the-odyssey/atlantic-odyssey/cbo-2017/track-boats/ 
 So, we depart on 10 January which is now less than 36 hours away. We’ve been doing work on Tantrum, including fitting a wireless remote control to the anchor winch, wiring the output from the AIS transceiver to the chartplotter so we can see others boats on the plotter rather than having to go below and look at the small display on the AIS itself. The end caps on the spreaders have been taped to minimise chafe and we’ve cleaned the boat above and below the waterline.
Victualling is nearly complete, with a freezer full of ready cooked meals as well as a considerable stock of fresh fruit and veg. We reckon on taking about three weeks to make the crossing and will eat fresh food for the first week or so and then move on to the frozen stuff. There’s a stock of canned food on board as well, should the freezer die on us and ruin the food. Whichever way you look at it, we won’t starve unless we take about two months to make the trip, which ain’t going to happen. 
In addition to all this, we’ve been to a seminar on long distance sailing. This was interesting as it gave us all the opportunity to think about how we will approach the crossing, given that it will be a good deal longer than any trip I’ve made up to now. Cornell Sailing will be sending us weather forecasts on a daily basis via satellite email and we learned how to access further information if we wanted it. Downwind sails were discussed in some detail as we expect to be downwind sailing most, if not all, the way across.  
Steve, Julia and I will be splitting the watches whilst Linda is running the galley. After listening to several different ways of approaching the business of keeping watch whilst getting enough rest, we have decided to start by mounting watches only overnight: during the day we will have an ad hoc watch keeper. Given that there are three watchkeepers, we have decided to do four hours on and eight off: in other words, one long watch a night. We will see how it goes.
Socially, we had a riotous night with the crew of a neighbouring yacht which started with a few drinks and ended post midnight after Linda served a wonderful meal scrounged up from stuff in the fridge. I think we drank just about all that wine and beer we had aboard…
Tomorrow will be busy, with final shopping to be done (including buying a reserve of bottled water), testing the satellite phone, fitting a new anode to the starboard saildrive leg and sundry other last minute tasks. We are expected to cross the start line as a fleet (there are 15 boats taking part) and the start is set for 10 am (at present, as there is a bit of a murmur going round the shift it a bit later…).
Once we are clear of land, all communications run via satellite: either the Delorme Intouch (text messages, free, preferred option) or via the Iridium GO phone (short emails, expensive), so this is probably the last post before we depart. I’m going to delay actual publication until late on 9 January so I can add an update just before we go.
That’s enough from me for now. The final update follows.
Final update. We left at 0950, made sail in the harbour and hoisted the code 0. Five minutes later we dropped it as the wind built. We are now heading south down the coast of Tenerife before heading south and west toward the Azores, to get into the trade winds. All looking good so far…

No pictures, not enough data bandwidth.

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