Making dreams a reality

19 November 2020

The second day of PCR Covid19 testing for all crews took place again at Vithas Clinic close to Las Palmas marina and delivery of provisions direct to boats, including fresh fruit, vegetables, drinks and meat, continued. Trolleys laden with fresh produce and goods to stow on board, and a general sense of busyness prevails before Sunday’s start.

Rolnautic chandlery and boatyard; supporters of the ARC since the very beginning, have been full of ARC participants doing last minute shopping and their helpful, knowledgeable staff have been on hand to answer any questions they may have. The ARC shop and information centre, open until 1300 on Saturday, has also been busy with crews buying commemorative ARC 2020 T-shirts, polo shirts and postcards as a reminder of their special adventure.

Around the docks, children in the fleet are happily playing, having made many new friends since being in Las Palmas. Like several others in the rally this year, the young family on Lucky Girl will be fulfilling a lifelong dream of sailing the world on their own yacht. Charlie and Helen Pank will be on the start line on Sunday with their two young sons (Roo aged 8 and Kit aged 6) after purchasing the 42-year old Maxi 120 Lucky Girl six years ago; the same day that their youngest son was born. They last took part in the ARC in 2007 before travelling the world together on various yachts. Later in life, they knew when they had their own children, that this was the perfect way to arrive in new countries. In their twenties, the intrepid travellers sailed round the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific to New Zealand, and took a cruise ship to Singapore from Sydney, before travelling overland to Mongolia, all the way through South East Asia and China and beyond… They even drove from Edinburgh, Scotland to the east side of Kazakhstan, making the 2,500 mile trip in a 20-year old Toyota van!

“We travelled by boat, bus, train, aeroplane and by land (which we found very hard), but we soon discovered that sailing to different countries is much more rewarding than sitting on a bus or on a train. You really felt like you’d achieved something and deserved to get there,” explained Charlie whose boat was having some work carried out at Rolnautic’s boatyard in Las Palmas marina, having arrived early enough to do so: “This is the best place I’ve found to find and fix things for the crossing since we left Portsmouth, England. Rolnautic have been really good and I’m very impressed.”

“Our plan has always been that we’d like to sail at least a large portion of the world with the kids, because we wanted them to have done this by the time they are adults. Even if they don’t realise at the time, they will look back on this adventure and think, ‘I’ve crossed an ocean. OK, maybe I can do this thing someone suggested I could do’. I felt like that when I first crossed the Atlantic with the ARC - I never dreamt I could do that, and I have. The ARC Kids club and the fact that our children have enjoyed meeting so many other children is one of the main reasons for joining.”

 The family will be joined by two Swedish friends and their daughter for the passage to Saint Lucia and their parents are unfortunately unable to wave them off in Las Palmas as they are unable to travel right now due to the pandemic. “I don’t relish the thought of two to three weeks at sea, but for us it’s a way of getting to see the world and I’m really looking forward to the feeling of sailing into Rodney Bay and recalling the euphoric rush of ‘we did it’ and that is the bit I am looking forward to the most,” smiles Charlie.

With a busy few days head of the start, the last of the informative briefings and seminars took place online, including a meeting of skippers whose yachts are fitted with an SSB Radio joining a Net Controllers Briefing and a chance at 1800 to join renowned marine weather expert, Chris Tibbs for his guide to weather and routing in the Atlantic. As well as discussing weather considerations for ARC passage plans, the session included the latest forecast for Atlantic tradewinds.