Monday, November 27, 2006

Boxes and Epirbs

Yesterday Sam trekked over to Oxford to collect the boxes which Ian brought back for us from Lagos, and to deliver even more stuff which Ian will take down to Kalessin.

The Lagos-bound box includes an Epirb (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) which has just cost us £500. Up to now these have been carried by ocean-crossers, but not necessarily by people doing more coastal sailing. If your boat sinks, they send out an electronic signal which transmits its location to Falmouth Coastguard, who then check with your named contacts to see if you are really at sea, and if you are, launch a rescue mission. This is either automatic (in the more expensive models), manual, or triggered when the Epirb hits the water.

New Epirb models are now just about affordable, and also can have built-in GPS which means Falmouth can pinpoint your position within about three minutes - the non-GPS ones take about 90 minutes. So they are worth having even for shorter passages. Possibly they could have saved the crew of Ouzo, a yacht which was probably swamped and sunk at night in the English Channel by a ferry. The main reason we got one is that Sam happened to be talking to a coastguard who urged us to get one... worth listening to the professionals.

The long-awaited boxes coming back from Portugal seem to have much less in them than I remembered. The electric hair clippers were one key item, and this morning Sam has gone from slightly shaggy to smooth and suave once again. Our Goretex sailing boots are also back here on the basis that we may not be using them in the Mediterranean but they might be useful in the UK - hope so!

This weekend I've been catching up with the movements of some of our companions from the long trek down. The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) started yesterday and by 3pm Intemperance was lying second among the racing fleet - hooray! Chris and Sally on Moondance, by the magic of modern technology, are publishing occasional blog updates from mid-Atlantic - they must now be about 1000 miles from the Canaries and a third of the way across. And Khepri still seems to be in Madeira, but have published Saiorse's entertaining log.

Things are changing for me. On Wednesday I begin a three-month contract working for Intercontinental Hotels, unhandily placed in Windsor. I'll be living in my parents' flat in Hampstead during the week, reverse commuting to Windsor, and coming home at weekends. It's not spectacularly well paid, but a great chance to broaden my experience and CV and to see how living away from home pans out. I may be too exhausted even to think about sailing until March - we'll see...

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