Laura Hodgetts talks to the skippers of 20 boats on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), ‘the biggest downwind gear test of the year’, about the pros and cons of the equipment they used and the sailing techniques they deployed
Inua – autopilot and windvane broken in a squall
The smallest yacht of the ARC 2015 fleet was Inua, a Hallberg-Rassy 310, sailed by Enno and Karin Rodegerdts.
Their autopilot and windvane were broken in a squall on the second night.
Enno said: ‘The tiller pilot pin broke. We had to hand-steer for four days before we got it fixed, using epoxy resin. We managed to fix the windvane, and had to pay attention not to lose any part in the ocean. Then we had self-steering back.’
Enno said the Watt & Sea hydrogenerator ‘produced all our energy needs, but it wasn’t perfect. We bought the short-leg version and should’ve bought the long-leg. It produced about 5A at 5 knots, but not as much as the data sheet said it should.’
Enno added: ‘We nearly lost the removable bracket,’ so he made a more secure bracket using teak planks and ‘lots of epoxy’.
Nearing St Lucia, their Raymarine autopilot failed – going into standby mode at 10-minute intervals – but it was the EmpirBus electronic distribution system that Enno named ‘worst equipment.’
The system became passwordlocked, and ‘Hallberg-Rassy wouldn’t give us the password to reconfigure it. It’s a very sophisticated system, but if it breaks all these things don’t work: windlass, panel light, fuse reset, tank level meters, water pump, fridge and plotter.’
Sailing technique: The duo used a Parasailor, which dampened the boat’s rolling but was ‘a little complicated for short-handed crew’. Enno said: ‘It was hard to get up, and it takes too much time to switch from Parasailor to goosewings.’
They used the genoa when goosewinging. Enno said: ‘It’s hard on the mainsail: that was the only chafe problem we had. Over 22 knots of wind we didn’t use the mainsail, just a poled-out genoa. Perfectly stable. The worst rolling was with the mainsail and genoa.’
Recommended spares: Epoxy and teak.
Top tip: Take prepared meals for the first few days.