Blue Water Cruising - How to prepare for an Atlantic crossing

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For Piment Rouge, their preparation for the ARC+ began with a trip to the Outremer Yachting shipyard. Our Outremer 51 is still very new - she was launched in June 2021 - but she’s already logged two Atlantic crossings. Once back at the yard at La Grande-Motte, in the South of France, a thorough check of the engines was undertaken - touching up any oxidation, changing the oils and filters, and a general mechanical inspection. The next step involved swapping out worn lines (halyards, sheets and reefing lines). Then came a 10-day passage from La Grande-Motte to Las Palmas, in Gran Canaria, which made an opportunity to take stock of the 3 main areas to focus on in preparing for the Atlantic crossing: safety, performance and ambiance. This speedy check-sail between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic revealed some play in the lower shrouds. The crew of Piment Rouge took advantage of the preparation week in Las Palmas to change the defective wires and then ensure the rig was satisfactorily tensioned. An operation that involved numerous interventions “at altitude” and perfect synchronization with the rigging technicians in the port.
Happening in parallel with this were updates for the electronics. This was a relatively tedious process and clearly, the preparation time in Las Palmas ahead of the start was far from too long!

No concessions on safety at sea

Ensuring absolute safety on passage is crucial. While the flag state rules for a French boat impose a basic list of equipment, the ARC+ organizing committee requires a much more extensive list with more than 50 items. As far as the catamaran was concerned, the compulsory equipment mainly involved communications equipment: VHF radio (Very High Frequency), AIS (Automatic Identification System), GPS (Global Position System) backup in case of dismasting, radar reflector, etc.
Collective emergency equipment such as lifebelts, life rafts and powerful flashlights are also examined. The correct attachment of the boat’s heavy and mobile equipment (anchors, propane tanks, batteries, etc.) is checked.
For the individual, the traditional life jacket marked with the name of the catamaran is completed by a whistle, a light, a transparent waterproof hood and a PLB that transmits back to the multihull. Compliance with these points is checked and validated in Las Palmas by the ARC+ staff (the “yellow shirts” team - named for obvious reasons). The day before the start, the skippers are invited to a briefing where the latest safety, navigation and weather recommendations are given. Arrival procedures (docking and customs clearance, etc.) are also discussed.
Finally, in the captain’s mind, as well as from ARC+ organizers’ point of view, Piment Rouge was deemed ready to cross the start line in complete safety!

Performance… for winning!

The ARC+ is a rally in two stages: Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to Mindelo in Cape Verde - 850 nautical miles; then Mindelo to St. Georges in Grenada - 2,150 miles. For us, with our ...

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