We'd bought a new main the previous year, and were delighted with it. (The new main was in polyester, from Dolphin, and replaced the high-tech original, which had become brittle in its fourth season.) The jib was original, but with an added foam luff, which makes it effective however much is rolled in.

We had the standing rigging replaced. It was only 6 years old, but we've lost a mast on a previous boat from rig failure, and we suspect the previous owner of Razzmatazz used the boat hard.

We made and fitted 2 stub bilge keels, so that we could dry out safely on slightly rough ground - gravel for instance.

We already had a liferaft, though I cannot think of any circumstance other than fire that would cause one to abandon an unsinkable catamaran built from foam sandwich. While we thought the pair of us could drown decently like gentlefolk, I thought we had some responsibility to ensure Mark and Luke's survival in the event of catastrophe. So, we hired an EPIRB for around £100 including post and insurance - certainly better value than buying one for £500 or more.

For charts, we bought the 2 small-scale Imray Biscay charts for the crossing and overall planning; second-hand Admiralty charts for the North Spanish coast, although we found a road atlas would have sufficed, so clean is the coastline; and large-scale Navicarte charts for the French coast. (Hardly anyone writing in Yachting Monthly mentions Navicarte charts, maybe because they are so clear, detailed and easy-to-use that they fear their credentials as Yachtsmen might be impugned if they did.)

As for pilot books, we had the RCC South and North Biscay pilots, and found the South Biscay pilot, in particular, quite excellent. It covers pretty well everywhere any yacht could go, and was punctilious in suggesting places to anchor.

We had Macmillan from the previous year, which is excellent for the proper harbours, and bought the CA Almanac for this year, but found it to be less comprehensive and less up-to-date.

We also bought the French "Votre livre de bord", which is very detailed and up-to-date for French ports, and also comprehensive on tariffs.

We bought a tourist guidebook (Footprint) which proved invaluable in directing us to the nicest places.

Razzmatazz in flight off Cap Gris Nez (photo Hanson, Balela)

We both speak passable French, which we've been trying to improve at the local technical college. But, despite honourable intentions, we had failed to learn any Spanish. This was a bad mistake, as the people we would have liked to speak to on wharves and quays, in bars and shops, had also skipped their English classes!

Finally, Ann and I brought Razzmatazz round from her base in Woolverstone to Plymouth in a couple of lazy cruises in June. We set out from Harwich with the club cruise in company to Tréport, and finished at Ichenor in Chichester harbour, where we left the boat for 2 weeks while we attended to things at home. We then sailed to Cherbourg for stores, Lyme Regis to visit Ann's sister and Plymouth, where we left Razzmatazz for another 2 weeks.

So, everything had already been well exercised in the current season.