Showing posts with label Safety Course. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Safety Course. Show all posts

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Amara's Taking Up a Large Piece of the Rock

Looking down at the dock from the top of Gibraltar.
I guess that I didn't realize how big Amara really was until I saw this picture that Garry sent to me yesterday.  It's a little comical to see how big Amara is compared to the other boats that are tied up to the dock.
The massive mainsail of Amara.
While on the tour around and up to the top of Gibraltar, Garry snapped some photos of its main attraction.  MONKEY'S!  I love this photo.  If comparing it with Martin and me, it hits a little too close to home.
Since Martin and crew are still in Gibraltar due to weather, Martin and Garry learned about a Survival and Safety at Sea course that was being given in the marina.  So they signed up to take the course.  The first half of the class was held in a classroom and the second half was in a freezing pool by the marina.  There they learned how to survive in the water if something were to happen while at sea.  One of the most important elements was learning how to turn over a raft onto its right side.  This proved to be more difficult than they thought.  The class (12 people) had to learn how to swim together, tread water for what seemed to be an infinite amount of time, then finally get everyone successfully loaded into the raft.  You can only imagine how cold and wet they were once they got into it.  But that didn't keep the instructor from giving them a 1-hour lesson while they all stayed huddled together freezing inside the raft.

Martin and Garry thought it was a very well-done course and both were so glad that they found out about this and signed up for the class.  (Of course, once the class was over, they both got out of the pool, peeled off their immersion suits and then jumped back into the pool in their swimsuits.)
Martin in the water taking on the task of turning the raft to its right side.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 Crew Spotlight!  

Meet our captain, Patrice.  
Our captain, Patrice at the flybridge of Amara.

When Martin and I were motoring through Europe this past fall, we used the opportunity to look at a few used boats in France that we were interested in purchasing.  We were quite interested in a Privilege 585 that was located in La Ciotat—which is a city on the coast in the south of France. 
La Ciotat, France—Our first look at the 585 Privilege
We had our broker set up an appointment to meet the captain at the dock and have him take us out to the boat in a dinghy.  In the end, we obviously didn’t purchase that cat, but we were beyond impressed with the captain. You could tell that he was a professional from the moment we stepped foot onto his dinghy for the ride out to the catamaran.  His knowledge was impeccable about the vessel and it was obvious that he was a true seaman.  He was also very patient as Martin and I opened every drawer and locker while he explained all facets of the boat.  Plus, he was just about the nicest and most amicable individual that we had ever met. 
Patrice taking us on the tour of the 585 Privilege this past September.
Lily sitting at the helm during our first meeting in France with Patrice.
Jump forward to November.  Martin was out of the country and didn’t have access to the Internet.  We were in the process of purchasing Amara and knew that we had to act fast in securing a captain if we were going to acquire Amara, get her ready and cross the Atlantic by March. 

In the sailing community, there are quite a few websites that yacht owners can go to in order to find crew for their boats. I scoured those sites and just didn’t see anyone with the kind of experience that we needed.  We needed someone who had crossed the Atlantic and knew how to handle large catamarans.  We needed  someone who was comfortable with all the gadgets and software on a very complex system, and someone who was willing to teach Martin along the way.  Yes, I found lots of talented and accomplished captains, but what if we got them on board and didn’t like them?  That is a huge factor and we didn't have the luxury of meeting them, evaluating them and then deciding on someone given our timeframe.

So, one night when I was talking to Martin on the satellite phone, I said, “I wonder if Patrice from the 585 Privilege would be interested?”  Martin thought it was a great idea and said to try and contact him and see if he would be interested.  So, I sent Patrice an email to see if it sounded interesting to him.  As luck would have it... or the stars aligned... or maybe just good karma, Patrice replied and said he would be available for those two months that we needed him.  Jackpot!  We would have taken Patrice for the entire trip, but he does have a lovely family in France, and well, a family does take priority. (Smile.)  

How qualified is Patrice?  Not only has Patrice been the captain for large, complex catamarans and monohulls for over 20 years, but he is a very accomplished technical sailor.  This crossing will be Patrice’s 18th passage across the Atlantic.  One of which he did single-handed.  Not only does Patrice have years of experience as a captain, but he also has an impressive background in racing sailboats.  I think Amara is in good hands.  

In fact, while Martin was in France this past month and getting Amara ready to sail, Patrice was there every day negotiating and working with all the individuals that were working and making repairs on Amara.  Martin said that he proved to be invaluable for just that part alone, but the skill at which he sails Amara is nothing short of amazing.
Garry said that even though they all take shifts throughout the day and night, he is sure that Patrice sleeps with one eye open and one ear listening all night.  He said, "Patrice is always sensitive to the sounds of the boat, sea, waves, wind, creaks, groans in the rigging and change in the wind direction and engine speed.  He is instantly awake at the tiniest sound and always checking on us—even when we are up in our dark, solitary perch at the wheel in the middle of the night. When we arrived in Gibraltar, it was evident that Patrice was tired and welcomed a good night's sleep." 

See how lucky we are?

Patrice is from one of my most favorite regions in France called, Provence—I fell in love with it while we were there in the fall.  Patrice has a lovely wife, Marie, and a darling, young daughter, Luce, who are both eagerly awaiting for his return.  I feel Marie’s pain in being separated from your spouse and can only thank her for letting us have Patrice during these two VERY long months.  

Also, a “Happy Birthday” to Luce since Martin told me tonight that it will be Luce's birthday tomorrow. (Marie, if you are reading this...  If it brings you any comfort,  Martin has missed Lily’s birthday for the second time.  Not on his own accord, but just because of circumstance.  I hope Luce has a wonderful day with her mama and family!)

On Sunday,  Martin and Patrice will decide if there is a window in the weather.  If there is a break, they will take off in the afternoon and head toward the Canary Islands.  As always, I'll keep you posted.