Record fleets for World Cruising Club's Spring rallies
A bumper fleet of over 50 boats from 20 different countries will take part in World Cruising Club's Spring rallies – ARC Europe and ARC USA – set to depart on Saturday 9th May. Venturing west to east across the Atlantic, more than forty boats will sail with ARC Europe this year; thirty leaving from Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and six from Portsmouth, Virginia, USA for the first stage of the rally, a passage to Bermuda where a further seven yachts will join. ARC USA sailors starting from Tortola include seven yachts headed for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, whilst sixteen boats sail alongside the ARC Europe fleet to Bermuda then onwards to ports along the US Eastern seaboard.
Of the boats joining ARC Europe 2015, eleven are sailing in a WCC rally for the first time including Joseph and Dawn's Ayala's Morgan 461, Pixie Dust (USA) from Oviedo, FL, USA. The crew of 5 will be making the transatlantic passage from Tortola to Europe, via Bermuda and the Azores, finishing at Marina de Lagos in Portugal in time for the European summer sailing season. “Our family and friends are really pleased we are doing this as part of a rally, in company of others. They feel comforted by that,” explains Dawn. “Everything is great so far with the rally. We've checked in, had our safety equipment check and are very happy. We are looking forward to the crossing and to spending three to five years cruising in Europe.”
Wealth of knowledge shared
For some the rally is a convivial way to start a European adventure and for others, an end to a Caribbean season or circumnavigation. Either way, walking the docks at Nanny Cay and talking to the sailors, one thing is clear; experienced 'ralliers' are more than happy to share their wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise with first time rally participants. From Western Australia, double handers Robert and Revle Elks' Outremer 51, Intrepid Elk (AUS) took part in ARC+ last November and are one of several crews completing an Atlantic circuit with ARC Europe. “ARC+ was our first rally and we enjoyed it very much. We got to meet most people in the rally and it was really nice to get to know everyone before we set off. We found the World Cruising staff to be so helpful and for us it is one of the best things about the rally. To have that support is great.”
A Family Affair
For the Moseley family, Guyon, Ali, William, David and Gordon, sailing the Leopard 48, Widago (USA), this marks the start of a life-changing new adventure featuring several WCC rallies: ARC Europe, ARC Baltic, 2015 ARC, before they head home in 2017 following completion of a circumnavigation with the World ARC. “Once we found WCC, we were drawn by the support, camaraderie and the fact that it takes a lot of the pressure of planning away, plus the social side of course. We will continue to the Azores which we are really looking forward to and then depending on the weather, we may stop in the UK before joining ARC Baltic in Germany. Our boat is now our home,” explains Guyon Moseley after leaving Key Largo, Florida. “I'm lucky that my wife is happy to take part in this great adventure along with our three children, two aged 10 and a 12 year old. As long as I have an iPhone and email I will continue to work as I have a small business and am very flexible. We will both help out with schooling for the boys which we are really looking forward to. For the leg to Bermuda from Tortola I will also have my best buddy and his daughter on board. It will be lots of fun.”
Preparations for the start
As start day looms, crews are busy making the final preparations with a buzz of excitement building around the docks of Nanny Cay Marina. The World Cruising Club team are helping with these last minute jobs such as ensuring everyone has filled gas bottles, fitting YB satellite trackers so family and friends can follow their progress and track them en route, as well as offering general advice and assistance when needed. The week-long shoreside programme includes a safety at sea day with a chance to try out flares and also a liferaft demonstration in the pool at Nanny Cay. The crews were very eager to get involved with both events. As well as the more serious side of making sure everyone is ready to go, there are a whole host of social activities taking place such as nightly sundowners, beach volleyball and the one that everyone is looking forward to, the farewell dinner. Some great friendships forged and then it is goodbye Tortola and off to Bermuda…
At Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, the USA-based fleet is also busy preparing for Saturday's start across the Atlantic. With only six yachts starting from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, it's a small group, but represents a microcosm of the entire fleet. Whilst two boats are officially non US-flagged (the Kiwi yacht Zoom from New Zealand, and the Australian yacht White Wave III), several nations are represented. Andrew Whiteley's American-flagged Blea Tarn, is represented by their British crew. “Blea Tarn is actually a lake in the midlands region of England,” Andrew explained. “It's where I spread the ashes of my parents. Their money bought the boat, so I thought it was an appropriate homage to pay. Though the name does confuse lock operators sometimes!”
As in Nanny Cay, the Portsmouth starters are a mix of newcomers and experienced ralliers. Euphoria, the American-flagged Xc-42, actually has a crew full of Scandinavians, and had originally sailed to the USA with ARC 2014. “I'm finally on my way back to Sweden after completing what's been a lifelong dream of mine,” said skipper Len Börjesson. “My wife, though she loves sailing, doesn't like the ocean-crossing bit, so she's sent me off for a year sabbatical and has met me via plane along the way.” Len is sailing with his 28-year old son Simon and four of Simon's friends. They're all engineers of some sort, and have work schedules that allow them long periods of time off to do this trip with Simon's dad.
Safety checks have also been underway to ensure yachts have the right equipment and knowledge to use it in case of an emergency during the ocean passage. “I thought we'd be way behind the curve in terms of our preparation,” said Ian, skipper of Zoom (USA). “But this safety inspection has really inspired confidence, and I think we're better off than I realized.” The Zoom crew received advice on how to correctly rig their jacklines, for example, and where to mount the radar reflector. Later on that evening, the crew was seen aloft in the bosun's chair doing just that, after they had test-flown their storm jib at the dock.
All starters for ARC Europe and ARC USA are set to depart on Saturday 9th May. Whilst the flexible route options for the rallies mean the start ports and ultimate destinations may be different, everyone taking part will feel certain solidarity with fellow crews setting sail on their ocean adventures.