ARC Bahamas Journal pt. 2


ARC – S/V Euro Trash Girl (Part 2 The Long Wait)

Ocean Marine Yacht Center located in Portsmouth Virginia is where S/V Euro Trash Girl would spend the next few nights tied up. Our 2 Captains, Jeff and Tony, remained at the marina after we docked to meet with ARC officials. The rest of the crew enjoyed a warm summer like stroll towards our hotel along the rivers bulk head, it was a beautiful day. Of course being the good sailors that we are we decided to delay checking into our rooms and grabbed seats at the bar! After a couple hours of wondering what happened to our skippers….in they walk looking exhausted and in need of a cocktail(s)! They said they had a short list of items to tend to in order to pass the ARC safety requirements, most were easy fixes such as adding a 6 foot length of line to our bucket! The most time sensitive item was replacing our LifeSling because there wasn’t a date of manufacture/inspection on it, our new unit would be overnighted to the marina! ALL issues resolved!

Now, we had been watching a weather pattern develop for the last week or so leading up to our Annapolis departure and once in Portsmouth the forecast seemed to change by the hour. If memory serves me correctly, “they” depending on who you turn to for predictions, were calling for 25-35 knot sustained winds and something like 10-15 foot seas at race time on Sunday morning, we can work with this! Our skippers advised that the ARC official also said that they would have a skippers meeting on Friday to provide further updates on the weather, this storm could certainly develop into something bigger, but “Positive Is How We Live!”…….. Later in the evening we walked over to a local pub to say hello to some of the other ARC participants and we grabbed a bite to eat, pretty low key….I was exhausted, early to bed.

Friday I woke up well rested in my comfortable hotel room at O-dark early as I tend to do. I threw open my curtains and looked across the dark Elizabeth River and could see the lights of Norfolk just a stones throw away. Soon a warm glow would reveal the rivers calm demeanor and I was drawn outside to witness another majestic sunrise over the shores of Virginia! DAAAAMN IT’S COLD OUT HERE!! It felt like low 40’s with a nice breeze and I was a bit uncomfortable in my shorts and t-shirt! I abruptly did an about face to retrieve my new snazzy team jacket, still kept my shorts on though! I enjoyed a peaceful brisk walk along the river’s edge watching the orange ball rise and that’s when I noticed the clouds were rolling in. I was now “Positive” that conditions were a changing!

My Friday morning walk included stopping by the marina to look around at the vast assortment of boats participating in the ARC Carribbean 1500 and ARC Bahamas. I believe there were close to 60 boats registered for both rallies and some were very impressive! I also spent some alone time with ETG, studying her from bow to stern without others around and this was beneficial to me. Love her curves and all her edges, even all her perfect imperfections! Borrowed that line from John Legend!! I was eager to start this journey and more importantly I finally felt ready.

Through the last few years I have found that sailors are genuinely nice people, one saw me sitting alone in the cockpit this morning and told me there was a great coffee shop up on High Street so that would be my next stop. I met other early to rise ETG crew members along the way and we had breakfast together. We were all curious about the weather, but you know…it is what it is, please pass the sugar!

We didn’t have any commitments for this day other than to go to an ARC Meet and Greet later in the evening and perhaps a coastal navigation refresher course? We spent most of the day lazily exploring Historic Portsmouth looking in shops, enjoying the historic architecture and the great churches with their towering steeples and Tiffany stained glass windows, it’s a nice town! The crew’s interaction was sort of ebb and flow all day, no real structure and I liked it! If you needed company it was only a group text message away…anybody need a drink!

Maybe it was all of the people walking around me in costumes, but at some point I realized that it was Halloween!! My wife had given me a large bag of mixed candy for the trip but none of the crew had a costume including me. I saw a Dollar Store in town and figured they will have something! Later when the crew was walking to the ARC Meet and Greet looking very matchie matchie in our snazzy new team jackets I handed out stick on mustaches for everyone so they could go as…me! I wore a Santa Clause beenie because I already have a mustache, albeit grey!, and well…I thought it was too early in the trip to be seen wearing a 42DDD hot pink Dollar Store bra that looked interesting!

The ARC Meet and Greet was at a local restaurant and the place was packed when we arrived. They gave us each 2 drink tickets to be used for beer or wine, 5 out of our 7 crew didn’t want beer or wine…it was my lucky day! The ARC officials addressed the crowd and acknowledged several “Salty Dog’s” that were present, these sailors have participated in no less than 7 ARC’s racking up over 10,000 nautical miles or greater! Met quite a few interesting people, one guy in particular is burned into my memory…I asked him where do you live? He said on the boat! Oh cool I said, how long have you owned your boat? It’s my friends boat (Pointing at the owner next to me), I asked the owner do you live on the boat? He said no I live in a house in Baltimore! I then asked the first guy what do you do for work when you’re not on the boat? He said I quit my job last month and just moved onto the boat….he continued saying he sold all of his belongings and finally his car just last week! I asked what will you do after the rallie? He raised his glass and said “Hell if I know, I’m enjoying being homeless right now!” He’s living the dream! I enjoyed meeting and talking with fellow ARC participants, some were seasoned salty dogs with that leathery patina that only time on the water can produce and some were green horns wearing snazzy new team jackets and asking all the same old questions.…I had fun!

After socializing a while we decided to have a nice Italian restaurant down the street before calling it a night. We had a fantastic meal there and the wine was flowing like beer! Excuse me…is that a mustache floating in your wine glass?! The crew was in great spirits despite the impending weather. With the weather information that we currently had we were all still optimistic that the race would begin on Sunday. The “predictors” bumped up the wind and seas a hair for Saturday night, but we wanted to believe that it would begin to settle down sometime Sunday morning….enough weather talk, please pass the wine and Caprese!

Saturday morning I slept in a little, probably 0700 hours. I actually felt well enough or perhaps felt the need to sweat a bit after our night on the town. Thankfully the gym was empty because I worked out on the elliptical in slip on Sperry deck shoes, why did I decide to leave my running shoes behind? I also swam some laps and soaked in the hot tub……felt like a new man! Funny, I thought I was alone while I took a selfie on the elliptical to send my wife and daughter (instead of selfie maybe it should be called a lonely?!), when I turned around there was a guy giving me the strangest look! heheeee must have been the shoes!

I know, I know, I need to get on with some boat related banter! Captain Jeff texted everyone asking us to report to S/V Euro Trash Girl around 1300 hours and start cleaning up the boat. They were attending a skippers meeting and should have some weather news. At the boat the skippers told us that the ARC officials decided to make an early call on delaying our start until Monday at 1100 hours….rats! When I say “early call” I don’t mean premature, this was an obvious and wise decision based on the severity of the approaching storm. I heard reports on Sunday of wind gusts up to 70mph and seas off the coast were 30+ feet, good call ARC officials! Not sure where they came from but the prudent captain in the following photo from our hotel also shows he/she has great respect for Mother Nature and was trying to find safe harbor!

Since we had more DOWN TIME we decided to top off the deisel including the jerry cans. It was nice to take ETG out for a walk even if it was only 50 yards to the fuel dock. Other crew went to the grocery store to top off our provisions, including every flavor of Pringles imaginable. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the town and watching college football and eating brats at the Beir Garden, great place and great beer! Later that evening a couple of mischievous crew members snuck out before dinner and returned to the Dollar Store and purchased 2 of the hot pink bras seen earlier. These would be found later in the trip by our skippers…somehow they ended up in their sleeping bags! Priceless!!

Race fans…SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY…oh that’s right we are delayed one more day, drats. A couple of us were having breakfast when crew member Mike walked up with a concerned look on his face. He said it had been a pleasure sailing with us but he had a time sensitive medical issue to tend to and couldn’t continue on to the Bahamas. We asked if there was anything we could do and he said no, but he had to catch the first flight out. Very disappointed, all we could say was good luck and take care. FYI, I spoke with Mike recently and all is well, thank goodness!!

Later we did visit ETG to take down the #1 genoa to stow away and we discovered a couple minor problem areas that were quickly fixed with sail tape. We checked on the dock lines then returned to the hotel to continue planning for our departure, this would include Captain Tony teaching 2 four hour blocks of coastal navigation, celestial navigation and chart plotting. Tony was very kind to provide this extra training, he’s a real asset to JWorld. One of the following photo’s shows me sleeping, it was just for effect I swear! Oh and in the photo is the back of the head of our Canadian crew member who arrived late the night before, so we would now have a total of 7 crew for our next leg of the journey! We grabbed a light dinner in the hotel and then hit the sack early to be properly rested for the day we have all been training for!

To be continued…

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