It’s been a while. And a busy one at that. Somewhere in the last 30 months, and in between their other jobs, the taller and almost-as-tall brothers have worked at preparing Sophie B for her voyage.
We have a crew. We have almost all the equipment we need. We can hoist and douse spinnakers.
The race is being sailed under the Offshore Rules for Racing, a 15-page long checklist of everything a boat needs to have on board for a long-distance transoceanic race. We have procured liferafts and electronic equipment we never knew existed. We have fretted over rigging; rerouting the running rigging; ordering new sails …. And somewhere along the way found a way of navigating the paperwork required to take a boat offshore (safety, insurance, government regulations, certification….). And all the while gradually expanding our confidence in and competence on the boat.
The boat and her crew also have to undertake a qualifying voyage; for this we are entered into the Mossel Bay Race, a 200nm route from Simons Town to Mossel Bay, around Cape Agulhas – the Southern tip of Africa – starting on the 29th of September. This is an interesting challenge: offshore racing for the first time; the prospect of often-foul weather; currents and shoals off Agulhas. And it is likely that at least one of the legs will be a beat into either a South-Easter or a North-Wester: the two most frequent winds here.
We are now in the exciting phase: the task list alternately shrinks and expands every day. But the big, hairy, scary items are shrinking: it’s only our two asymmetric sails that are still waiting to be rigged that cause stress. And we are starting to think of the fun stuff: provisioning a boat, the race itself.