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Homepage Slider Sailing and Travel — 20 November 2013

I’m writing this while babysitting for a fellow ARC couple with two very young kids and the need to have a good night out. Friends (big and small) have been made in good old Las Palmas, Gran Canaria…

ARC Atlantic Rally for Cruisers

The ARC (for those who don’t know) stands for ‘Atlantic Rally for Cruisers’ and is now in its 28th year. This Sunday about 250 boats and 1200 crew will leave Muelle Deportivo and make their way 2700NM across the Atlantic to Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Many, like us, are cruisers who want the security of knowing there’s a large number of boats in radio distance. Isn’t it nice to know that you’ve shared a cocktail sausage and a gossip with the person on the other end of the handset? Unless of course it’s an emergency, in which case cocktail sausages fall very low in the list of priorities…

Ask anyone who’s participated in the ARC and they’ll tell you that you need serious stamina to keep up with the partying. Forget the rally – a fair deal of preparation is needed to get your drinking boots ‘ship shape!’ Just for the record there’s been a party practically every night, either organised by ARC or on our own pontoon. That’s not to say we’ve been to them all.

Of course there’s a more serious side to the events as crossing the Atlantic is, after all, something of an endurance challenge. There are safety demonstrations using helicopters and lifeboats, safety checks on your boat and equipment plus full days of seminars.

The Hannell family taking part in the ARC 2013

Michelle, Ferne, Noah and Alex from Jade, ARC 2013


As a novice sailor I felt a bit daunted attending seminars where, quite frankly, many of the references zoomed over my head. However, I’ve walked away feeling more ‘in the know’ than when I entered. I’ve also come out with a ‘favourite speaker’ in the shape of Chris Tibbs, a regular contributor to Yachting Monthly.

Prior to the ARC I wouldn’t have known Chris from a luff or a goose neck. In fact, whilst Yachting Monthly was read on the Port side of our bed over on the Stbd the magazine of choice definitely did not involves sails… sales, yes. Anyway, Chris, who is a meteorologist for the ARC, has delivered two quality seminars on Route and Weather for an Atlantic Crossing and Management of Emergencies.

Nobody was more surprised than me to have found Chris’ talks enjoyable (no disrespect intended). Both subject matters had the potential to petrify but I left feeling reassured and boosted by his words (I could well eat these but according to Chris that would put us in a very minute percentage).

Anyway, back to the fact that I’m babysitting. Perhaps for us the biggest part of being in ARC was getting the chance to meet other families with kids doing this whole sailing lark. Job done. As well as all the usual program of events there is an ARC kids club for the over 6s run by the local sailing school. Starting at 9am each morning the kids go off and play beach games, sail dinghies, go on trips to the local museum etc. Meantime us parents get to finish off those last niggly bits left on our lists.

However, if your kids are under 6 they don’t qualify for kids club which means that these parents sometimes need a fellow parent, who understands the need to jump ship and hit the nearest bar/restaurant, to step in. The kids I’m listening out for are 4 and nearly 2 – the youngest participant in this year’s rally!

As I said, friends have been made in Las Palmas and I can’t wait to carry on partying with them all in St Lucia…

Michelle x

PS: During the passage we hope to post something up on the ARC website. You can also track us on Jade as we sail by clicking here.

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