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ARC Plus tales from the crossing

Over 60 boats have now arrived in Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina and the atmosphere is joyous and vibrant as delighted crews share the experience of their Atlantic crossing with fellow participants and new-found friends. Many boats arrived overnight and have been welcomed onto their berth this morning by the ARC Yellowshirt team, along with Port Louis Marina team and the Grenada Tourism Authority interns from the T.A. Marryshow Community College. The ice-cold rum punches are still flowing and the warm Grenadian welcome continues as the flow of arrivals keeps everyone busy; day and night.
Talk and hot topics amongst crews around the bar and docks is of how good it feels to arrive in Grenada; highlights of their passage, conditions at sea; plus, the all-important subject of food, what birds or sealife were spotted; and what they were looking forward to now safely in Grenada,

Memories of the crossing
Recalling his first ever Atlantic crossing, Indrek Prants, whose Lagoon 50 catamaran Sirocco is the first Estonian entry in ARC Plus, said: “Overall, for us, the crossing was perfect because we didn’t face any big storms or anything and we actually enjoyed the swells and rolling seas,” he laughed. “We did have a few problems with mast fittings and that’s why one of our crew members went up the mast four times during the ocean crossing! It was a little bit challenging, but we were able to sail with our downwind Parasailor most of the time and only lost a couple of days because of it.”

Veteran rallier, Rui Simões Da Silva has crossed the Atlantic three times in his Lagoon 450S catamaran Attitude; with ARC 2018, returning in 2019 with ARC Europe, and now with ARC Plus. Sailing with a crew or four, including his son Diogo, the Portuguese amateur crew had an enjoyable crossing. “It was amazing conditions compared to what we had in 2018,” said Diogo. “We had smooth sailing, constant winds and perfect waves coming in from the stern, so downwind sailing, which is great. We had no big issues regarding any of that. It was much easier than four years ago because of the wave direction more than anything.”

However, owner Knut Pfeiffer, sailing with family and friends from Munich on his Jeanneau Yacht 57 Alize, explained that they experience a slightly rougher passage: “It was sometimes a bit stormy and we ruined two sails, the tradewind sail and the gennaker, so most of the time we only had the genoa to sail with. We have already contacted the sailmaker hoping he can repair it in a few days. We are more than happy to be here though, and to be sure in a few minutes we will be drunk on this rum punch! We are all healthy and happy and talking to each other, so that’s a good thing We came all the way from Turkey; 10,000 kilometres and it’s amazing, we never thought we would do this.”

James Fisher experienced his first transatlantic crossing with his daughter Lizzie and crew member Jake Elsden-Powell on his Trintella 49A, Robin Leigh (GBR), one of the older boats in the fleet this year: “The whole vibe has been really good and we enjoyed our crossing. The atmosphere on board was lovely because we are pretty chilled about things, that and the ARC Plus vibe that went with it made the whole thing really good fun. We had a really nice fast crossing and apart from the autopilot, we had no breakages. We just went along under white sails at 8 knots most of the way over. We only had one rule on board, that was sundowners at 5pm, no matter what. The rally was good fun with a great atmosphere. The ARC yellowshirts really made it, particularly Tim and Phil. They are legends.”

Fish, fish and more fish
Like many participants, fishing was one of their favourite pastimes at sea. “We caught a large 5 kilo Sailfish and about 10 others, like Mahi Mahi. We enjoyed them grilled or in sashimi rolls. Delicious,” said Indrek on Sirocco. Also recounting their fishing exploits, experienced fisherman, Jake, sailing on James Fisher’s Robin Leigh enjoyed a 45-minute battle with a 200lb Yellowfin Tuna about 200 miles off Grenada: “I got it to the back of the boat and then unfortunately it ran across the transom and just cut the line. It was a big old thing! We got to see it though, so for me, that’s a catch. It was super cool and did get an awful lot of fish this trip. We had so much Wahoo that we had it four nights in a row: curried, stir fried, ceviche… When we got into port, the last thing we wanted for our first dinner ashore was fish!”

Rally highlights
The rally highlight for most participants was, of course, crossing the finish line and then their arrival and welcome in Grenada, but for some, coming to the end of their Atlantic adventure gave them mixed feelings, as Knut on Alize explained: “The highlight is arriving now. Thank you very much for this lovely welcome. However, one highlight for me was the peace and tranquillity of being out there, alone at sea. There were no other boats, no other people (apart from the crew) and nothing on the sea for days. I enjoyed that sense of being alone, with only the sea and waves to enjoy.” However, his crew were not so lucky with catching fish: “We had many flying fish on board. Dozens of them; 13 at one point, but we tried fishing and caught nothing. The first fish that bit took the whole equipment with him!”

We saw dolphins and had a lovely visitor; a little white bird who came to us each night, for several nights, which was a highlight,” continued Knut on Alize. “In the middle of nowhere he would visit us, several hundred kilometres from the next land. He stayed for a few hours to recover or rest each time, and then flew off. We named him Noah.

Lizzie Fisher sailing with her father’s boat Robin Leigh told the ARC yellowshirts of her personal highlights: “We saw the Chinese rocket booster re-entry, which was pretty amazing. We were about halfway across then and it will certainly go down as a ‘bucket list’ item. We opened up a bottle of Moet champagne, and then had another one halfway across, and one on arrival too! You can’t really pinpoint the highlights on this rally as it’s just been so brilliant.”

Rui Simões Da Silva on Attitude explains why he keeps returning to take part in World Cruising Club rallies: “I have no desire to do the Atlantic crossing on my own and that is part of the reason I like joining taking part with a rally. You are alone; you run your own boat etc, but there’s always the fact that you have the support of World Cruising Club and someone looking at what’s going on, or helping you if you need it. That sense of community helps you to cross the seas, otherwise I would never have crossed three times!” enthuses Rui. “The other thing is you meet really interesting people,” continues son Diogo “We’ve met a bunch of other boats, really nice guys, this time around. We met Mexicans, Americans, British, Spanish and we hope to keep in touch with them in the future.”