I recall the day last October when I received an email from Andrew McIrvine, Admiral of The Royal Ocean Racing Club (The RORC), in which he provided me with details of the RORC Caribbean 600 race and a Yacht called “Silandra”. Andrew had heard on the grapevine that I was keen to do the race and, in an understated way which is typical of sailors, suggested that “… I might be interested in this trip”. The 7th edition of the race takes place over 23-26 February 2015 and involves sailing non-stop for 600 miles around 11 Caribbean islands. It’s a tough race that is frequently referred to as the Caribbean Fastnet.
I thought about the prospect of joining Andrew and his team over the few days after receiving his initial email and I took the opportunity to consult with Vanessa, who was very supportive of me going on the trip. It was therefore easy for me to confirm my place on Silandra three days later.
Silandra is a 70′ Nauta Yacht whose design dates back to c.1990. Andrew described her as follows: “The boat is very civilised with all mod cons and a modest sail wardrobe (not too much sail changing planned!)”. Photo below.
However, things didn’t appear to go along with the original plan and I was a little concerned when I received another email from Andrew in early December in which he said:
“Then things started to move rather out of our control. I learnt indirectly that all was not well with Silandra, she looked smart but had hardly been sailed for years so systems were untested, then there was a problem with rig insurance and then I heard – again indirectly – that she had been sold. At this point I asked for our money back – and to be fair it came back within a day”.
This was not ideal, but Andrew’s email went on to explain that he had not wanted to panic us all when this came to light and that he had been busy exploring other options. The preferred option was a modest yacht called “Windfall” and the new deal was described as follows:
“She is a Southern Wind 94 foot sloop designed by Reichel Pugh and launched in 2012. She is owned by Michael Cotter (who used to own the large Swan ‘Whisper’) ….. Overall this looks a great deal and considerably better than the original plan. Cost will be the same.”
What a relief and also what an opportunity!
So, with less than two weeks to go before I set off from Heathrow airport on my Avios seat in the back of the BA bus (A new experience for me), I have just returned from a lovely weekend in Trearddur Bay during which I collected the sailing clobber needed for the trip from “The Shed”.
Notwithstanding the fact that Vanessa and I had a highly convivial evening at Eithin Bach with the Commodore of Trearddur Bay Sailing Club and his wife last night (during which no fewer than seven bottles of wine were consumed!), the highlight of the weekend was when Vanessa suggested that I might struggle doing without wine for the three days of the race and that I should consider detoxing before I head off! Not sure about that.
Only twelve big sleeps now before I go. Should be fun.