The excitement on the docks of IGY Simpson Bay Marina was palpable this morning, not least as today's start of ARC Europe 2021 coincided with special 13th Birthday celebrations for Charlotte on Piano. There was just enough time for cake before the dock lines were tossed and the parade of ARC Europe yachts made their way through the the bridge entrance to the starting area to begin their ocean adventure.
For some, today marked an extra special departure day - delayed by 12 months due to the pandemic, but finally off and heading westwards across the Atlantic, bidding a fond farewell to Caribbean shores, and now for the ocean miles and classic bluewater cruising as they are bound for Bermuda, then to the Azores and beyond.
It was absolutely perfect day for the start with sunny with blue skies, fluffy clouds and good winds at 10 to 12 knots. The Sint Maarten Yacht Club Committee boat counted the boats down and first to cross the start line was Big Bear followed quickly by Buganvilia and Nina of Southampton, parading smoothly as they tacked to starboard after the marker buoy. Just before they crossed the point, Big Bear unfurled their emerald green spinnaker which was quickly set and filled to help them munch down the 875nm to St George's, Bermuda. At a more leisurely rate the Italian stallions on Neel 47 Minimole sauntered across the line with big smiles from the father and son duo Marco & Luca Tausel.
Finally bringing up the rear for this years rally was the French catamaran Persha with skipper Pierre Marie relaxed at the helm. And the fleet are officially on their way to Bermuda.
It has been a somewhat different, but very successful start to the rally, thanks to the support of all those at IGY Marinas in St. Maarten and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. The spirit amongst participants in the small fleet of 12 boats has flourished, and 2 further yachts will join the fleet in Bermuda. World Cruising Club will be supporting the passage with Rally Control in 24hr a day contact with the fleet, live tracking and weather forecasts sent daily to the boats at sea. All pre-arrival paperwork for the boats arrival in St. George's has been submitted, with the first yachts expected to make landfall around Friday, 14 May. Fair winds to ARC Europe 2021!