The final countdown is on for the participants of ARC Europe 2021 as start day looms just 24 hours away and the final checks are carried out ahead of embarking on their multi-stage transatlantic crossing. 12 boats are due to start from St. Maarten where the crews have been enjoying a programme of activities compliant with local protocols, getting to know one another and the rally spirit is bubbling away on the docks of IGY Simpson Bay Marina.
On Wednesday, SLS Laboratories visited Isle de Sol Marina to perform the PCR tests for the ARC Europe participants, a necessary requirement for their arrival into Bermuda, and providing reassurance for skippers for a healthy crew on board. Cruisers have become used to the regular requirement and it was efficiently carried out by the SLS team.
Thursday was the fun day for ARC Europe participants as it was the liferaft demonstration in the pool at Isle de sol followed right after by the Farewell BBQ. Nina of Southampton kindly donated their old liferaft which popped open immediately, demonstrating the quick inflation and giving a real insight into how tricky boarding a raft can be in even calm conditions.
Garth and Ian from the St Maarten yacht club certainly put the volunteers through their paces! And no one worked harder than Charlotte and Rebecca from Piano ably assisted by Kristian Rustan of Cloudy Bay. Garth also brought in survivor suits to try on as well as putting on an in-depth talk on flares.
After a little rest IGY Marina the opened up the bar and coolers of ice cold beer and drinks and participants were able to chat just until the aroma of delicious BBQ ribs, chicken kababs and mahi mahi said dinner was ready!
Big Bear had not only one but two crew celebrating their birthdays this week so WCC decided to get them a big bear chocolate cake shared by all! The birthday boys were skipper, Jonathan Brewin and the dj for the night, Garth Pickup! A good night was had by all.
Friday has been a calmer affair with the focus turned to tomorrows departure. Beaming in from the UK, World Cruising Club's Andrew Bishop, and ARC Meteorologist Chris Tibbs delivered the Skippers Briefing, covering the starting procedure, weather expected for the passage and arrival protocols into Bermuda.