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The Atlantic Challenge 2007 - 2008

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The Atlantic Challenge was to sail solo and single handed across the Atlantic Ocean. It's quite an experience. The peace and tranquility of the ocean, the starry night skies and really living the magnitude of glory in the dramatic sunsets and the beauty of a breaking new dawn each day over the horizon, all conspire to make you really appreciate that its those simple things in life that boost contentment and happiness. But before you leave on such an expedition, there's the usual planning and packing performance that every trip away from home entails, but with this trip, being that it was also challenge, the planning and packing was a little bit more involved.

The Yacht

Rosiley was her name! Her name derives from one of my youthful haunts called the Rose of Lee, where I had the good fortune to meet my wife. My wife and I bought Rosiley, a 40ft Hanse 400 in 2007 as my previous boat Nephele (used in the British Isles Challenge) was a bit small for the Atlantic. The full specification of Rosiley is listed at the end of the page. Whilst Rosiley was central to embarking on the Challenge in the first place, it's all rest of the planning and preparation that really counts to bring it all together.

Preparation for the Challenge

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, so they say, so it's key to prepare to sail especially when you're solo and disabled with the use of only one arm. Naturally, safety equipment was high on the list and it's quite a blessing to be living in this high tech era as there's an abundance of good kit to choose from.

The Kit List

Safety first: The EPIRB. Crossing the Atlantic means that there's times you need to be on deck irrespective of the weather. Any time that you're on deck, there's always a risk that you could slip overboard. So in addition to wearing a life jacket, it's advisable to wear an EPIRB particularly when sailing solo. An EPIRB is an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon which will automatically emit a signal if you fall overboard. The signal is automatically triggered and picked up by satellite the moment the device is fully immersed in water. The EPIRB can also be manually activated if you're in any other kind of maritime distress.

In addition to the personal EPIRB, Rosiley also had two ships EPIRB. One was portable and the other was fitted to the Rosiley. In the event that a Yacht becomes fully emmersed in water (i.e. sinks), the EPIRB will emit its distress signal, and in the event that a distressed mariner has time to abandon ship and lauch its life-raft, the portable EPIRB can be taken on the life-raft so that again, you're always able to communicate your position to anyone who's on their way to help. Batteries on these electronic devices can emit its signal last for days.

Navigation devices: The ARPA Radar. Even though there's peace and solitude whilst floating around in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, there's always a chance that you'll come across some traffic. Not a good idea to sail on a collison course with an ocean liner or any other vessel for that matter. So it's helpful to have an ARPA radar that let's you know if there's any other vessels around. An ARPA is an Automatic Radar Plotting Aid that can display the position and course that other vessels near you are following, which means, you can adjust your course, (if necessary) to ensure you're not heading on a collison course. These devices also have safety features built in (to accommodate any potential human error just incase you're asleep at the wheel) and will fire off an alarm to let you know you're in close proximity to others in good time for you to take evasive action.

Likewise, other vessels need to know if you're near them too! So the Rosiley was fitted an ARTE, an Active Radar Target Enhancer which actively receives radar signals from other vessels in the vicinity, amplifies it and re-transmits it back. It's just as important to be absolutely sure that other vessels know that you're around too. The ARPA ensures a stronger return signal. A flashing red light would be activated on Keith's ARPA to let him know instantly if there was a ship within 16 nautical miles of his yacht plus it would ensure that the Rosiley would appear on their radar screen. This equipment is particularly important because you're highly visible all the time even during the dark Atlantic nights.

Special Disability Adaptations

In order to climb the mast saftely, Keith not only fitted extra steps on the mast running from top to bottom, he also fitted a sliding channel running the full length. Keith could be sure footed at any point on the mast plus, he had one end of a safety line fixed onto the sliding channel and the other end fixed to his harness. The safety line also had a winch that could be operated via a remote had held device. If Keith was ever blown or slipped off the mast, he could (almost totally) be sure that he'd avoid injury and recover himself via the safety line and winch. Having gained an abundance of skills and knowledge from years of working in construction, Keith was well qualified to translate construciton industy safety line techniques to good use on his yacht.

The Trade Winds Route

Left Portsmouth in October 2007 and headed south to Grand Canaria in order to catch the north-easterly trade winds. This is a time honoured route that has been navigated by mariners for centuries cross the Atlantic Ocean. The north-easterly trade winds blow from the north-east hemisphere in a south westerly direction easily blowing sailors from the homelands of Europe across the Atlantic to the paradise Islands in the Carribean.

The Squalls

The magnificence of the weather on the Atlantic! Here's a series of photos showing what a squall really looks like

photo slide show here

The Rosiley: Hanse 400 specification

Electric anchor windlass
Transom washboard
Bow thruster, Maxpower, retractable 12V
Hand pmp for seawater supply, galley
Battery pack, 2 dditional batters, each 110 Ah including a 50 Amp charger
Ambassador stripper, including prop modification
Sprayhood with leather covered grabrail
3 reefing points in mainsail
3 reefing equipment
Ballslide batten system
A pair of winch handle pockets
3 pairs of rope tides
Jackstay lifelines
4 x Mast step
Yanmar emergency spares kit
Coppercoast antifouling
Autopilot SIMRAD AP 16 with Flux Gate Compass RFC 35
SSB - Icom IC-M801E with backstay isolators and ground plate
VHF SIMRAD RD 68 at nav station plus cockpit speaker
2 solar panels
Duogen Generator
Navtex, McMerdo ICS Nav 6+
GPS SIMRAD CX34 plotter at nav station, DS34 repeater at pedestal
Radome Simrad DX45 4kW bracket (on mast) wired to nav station
Wind instrument Simrad, IS12 analog display in the cockpit
Anchor light/tri colour at mast top
Deck light, combined iwht steaming light
Additional 240V outlet
12Vsocket in the cockpit
Gelshield 200 expoxy treatment