Itâ€™s time nowÂ to sort and pack the boat, and get ready to leave myself. Being a traveling sailing program, Iâ€™ve acquired many things over the summer – from all sorts of extra gear to new electric tools, due to the different electrical system over here. The race sponsors help arrange storage and moving of gear from one port to another by truck or container – which helps for racing, but since I’m sailing home, much of the gear needs to come with me. Here in La Rochelle, I emptied the contents of the boat into a storage locker, and am now retrieving everything including some things Iâ€™ve acquired since the races… like bottles of French Red Wine!!
On Monday, with it still raining, and before beginning to repack,Â I took the time to wash out the boat from one end to the other. The rain keeps coming, so the inside is still struggling to dry, while I keep bringing stuff onboard that’s gotten soaked between the car and the boat. Good thing the dehumidifier is less than a year old. The other task at hand is to set up sails for the trans-Atlantic sail home. The mainsail is up at this point, and I have two jibs I have yet to set up. Whenever the rain stops for a moment, Iâ€™m going to take care of that.
This push to get the boat ready, is also to give me a chance to leave here this weekend, and to take in some touring of London and Ireland. I hope when I return, that the weather will have changed, at which point, I can do some quick shopping for food, say some goodbyes to friends, untie the dock lines and point the bow west and head for home. This trip will be a solo trip all the way – partly for training purposes, partly to qualify for the Global Ocean Race and partly just for myself. My solo dreams of long ago began with reading about those who sailed solo across the Atlantic. It will be a real treat for me to retell those stories in my memory, as I sail the 3500-4000 miles from La Rochelle to Charleston, SC.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to sailing from France west to North America. Many of the boats this time of year are headed more south than I am, to the Caribbean for the winter. In that case, they will likely sail south to the Canary Islands and Madeira, before hooking onto the trade winds and sailing west. That trip is approximately 4500 miles long. I hope to find a weather window that allows me to sail to the Azores, and then across, which shortens the route by 1000 miles, but also comes with the threat of heavier low pressure systems which may mean lighter or no wind days.
But the first goal of this trip is to get clear of nearby Bay of Biscay and then past Cape Finisterre, at the northern tip of Spain. Itâ€™s a toss-up, but some recent looks at the weather pattern, suggest I might get the weather needed. For the next week though, predictions are for a rather intense low pressure system which could bring wind and rain to the area. That makes it a good time to head to Ireland, and hopefully find some great Irish music and learn a wee bit about the country.
So, one last adventure to be had – Ireland and London – before heading for North America, hopefully Charleston, SC – or else, somewhere in Florida. From there, I will begin the ramp up in preparations for the Global Ocean Race, which starts about a year from now. There are lots of things to do to make the boat ready, and that will take up my winter, and then come spring – lots of sailing solo to train for the race.
Iâ€™ll pass along another quick update before I leave France, and then hopefully, there will be some updates along the way as I head west. Until then, if youâ€™re in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the fall weather, and if youâ€™re in the Southern Hemisphere, spring is here and summer isnâ€™t far behind!!
Â - Dave