Practical Boat Owner

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It was movie night on board Heaven 47. Simon had rigged the fairy lights, a rom-com was playing on the tablet, and Rachel and Sam were in their dressing gowns, nails freshly painted, tucking into popcorn.

“It was the most amazing thing ever,” recalls Rachel. “After five days of no wind, and constantly craving home comforts, we finally decided to treat ourselves.”

But all of a sudden there was a bang. Sam flew across the cabin and landed on top of her sister-in-law. “Lifejackets, lifejackets!” she yelled, scrambling to her feet. In seconds they were out in the cockpit in the roaring wind and pitch black, winching harder and faster than they’d ever done before. Out of nowhere, a squall had hit, and they’d broached with the spinnaker still flying. Mark, Tom and Simon pulled down the spinnaker while Rachel and Sam, still clad in gleaming white dressing gowns, operated the halyard and sheets.

“We had to break into the contraband after that,” admits Rachel. “Nothing but Toblerone would calm us down.”

For the crew of five sailing in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) this was the moment that changed everything. What had been a tortuous ‘drift’ was now a barrelling downwind sail, which would last all the way to St Lucia… but it wasn’t to be the last drama aboard the 47ft Beneteau.

Dreaming of the ARC

The family were one of 185 boats taking part in the 2019 rally, an adventure that started 10 months earlier when Sam and husband Simon bought their first boat.

Sam, an architect, recalls the conversation she had when she first met Simon, a strategy director: “He

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