I begin mulling over our present quandary. It hadn't all been fun and games, we did manage to go sailing for a little while.
Before heading off to find some October sunshine we had yet to get the boat ready. There was a lot to get ready and all within a week
In Bristol the tall ship 'Matthew' had leant us their mooring as it was the only place large enough to accommodate the boat whilst preparing her for our trip. The list was long and there were eventually eight of us to get on with it. We would;
Jet wash the boat after it had remained unmoved for over a year. This is in fact like washing two boats at 102feet each. A chore, and it was a chore, that took three days.
Jet wash the sail, all 334 square feet of it and both sides at that! There was also a tiny hole that we patched with sailmakers tape.
Disinfect the interior and give a general sort out of the items on board. Locate that funny smell that most boats seem to acquire when they've not been used in a while. This boat had many interesting smells. Pete quashed the majority of them with hard graft and disinfectant yet some still remained. Who knows what they were? To hazard a guess I'd say it was either bad meat or a good cheese with undertones of dank rubber and old diesel. An acquired pong, but a pong we would call home for the following few weeks.
The lights on top of the mast that towered above Bristol needed replacing. This was interesting, as when the halyard reached its highest, it was still just short of the very top of the mast. Any work done here would be with your hands above your head, seeing with touch and juggling tools with your fingers. Sacha, bless him, was up and down that mast more times than we'd have cared to lift him. Fat lovable bastard.
Rewire the boat. A Marine electrician spent many hours over several days scratching his head over what was going on with the wires on the boat. Though through perseverance and I'm sure a touch of witchcraft he had gotten everything just as it should be and ready to go.
Re-fuel the boat. 550 litres stretched into 12 jerry cans. When the wind wasn't helping us along we would have to carry these cans from the forward lockers to the very stern of the boat. Then via a transfer pump the engine would take the juice straight from the cans.
There was a lot that we needed to take with us that we didn't have. Shipshape & Bristol Fashion kindly said that we could take what we needed from the 'Matthew' for the duration of the trip. The first thing we pilfered was the brand new Rib Eye inflatable dinghy and a 25 Hp Engine. We then used that to travel the length of Bristol Harbour to the 'Matthew' and take more things that we'd need in order to sail; Survival suits, tools, extension leads, spare lifejackets, climbing equipment, torches... We also said that we'd take some of the food that was out of date such as rice, pasta and cereals.
A fine hoard, this took us at least three trips and we were borrowing items up to a few hours before we set off.
I even took a couple of items from my own little boat. A stern light, an extension lead and a selection of 12volt accessories.
Myself and Pete were charged with provisioning the boat. A simple galley to cook with, we set about clearing the shelves of the local supermarkets. Hundreds of litres of bottled water, tinned foods, rice, pasta and other such items that would last a while and be cooked on a hob were purchased in bulk. We also got lots of fruit and vegetables, some fresh meat, peanut butter, Ryvita and other necessities.
This was all quite an undertaking, though everything on this boat was! For this wasn't just any sailing boat that Ben Bones had decided to take on. This was Enza. One of the fastest sailboats on earth.
Enza was launched in Quebec, Canada in 1983 as Formule TAG and at 80ft was the longest racing catamaran in the world.
In 1994, as Enza, she was lengthened to 102ft and had a central 'pod' fitted as well as a larger rig. She was sailed by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Sir Peter Blake on a circumnavigation of the world. A voyage that took a record 74 days 22 hours and 17 minutes to complete, a voyage that would claim the revered Jules Verne trophy. It has taken on many names since then. We would be sailing her as 'The Spirit of Antigua'.