Help, Friendship and Christmas Adventures on the ARC

17 December 2020

Many sailors will concur that crossing an ocean in a small sailboat brings together people in the most extraordinary circumstances. What may be weeks of not seeing another vessel, or says out of VHF contact, when the call is answered and a boat reaches out to another, it is a sailor’s duty to assist whenever they can. It is a unique camaraderie, ever present on the ARC.

Sailing vessel Suffisant and SVALA came together some 200nm off Saint Lucia. With very light winds predicted for the next couple of days, Suffisant were running low on fuel and it would have meant they were bobbing around for another 2 days or so. Displaying excellent seamanship SVALA were only too happy to provide Suffisant with a tow to ensure they could celebrate their arrival together in Rodney Bay. 

SVALA is a double handed boat in the ARC crewed by skipper Christian and Manuela Lücking. Having provided the tow and got settled underway in calm seas, they were extremely grateful to be able to share their watch with the crew onboard Suffisant and gain some much needed sleep. The skipper on Suffisant, Marina Passet sent in a heartfelt message to The ARC Office and wrote, “It was indeed a different year for the ARC but I would like to say thank you to you all for making this dream come true. Special thanks to all the yellow shirts, Andrew Bishop (World Cruising Club Managing Director) and our weather profit Chris Tibbs.”

Friendship also plays a big part in the ARC and indeed when those longer journeys need a little extra help. Family boat Lucky Girl demonstrate this perfectly by bringing 2 families together on one boat to not only share the experience but utilize knowledge and skills to ensure they had a fabulous crossing.

Having met at university, skipper Charlie Pank and Thomas Roberts decide to share the experience and include their families too. Charlie and Helen have 2 children, Roo aged 8 and Kit aged 6, Thomas and Sarah have Stella aged 6. Only deciding to make this adventure a reality in September, well thought out teamwork certainly played a strong part in ensuring their 2880nm crossing was a great success.

With different sailing abilities and even eating habits this crew of 4 adults and 3 children utilized their individual skills to create the perfect team. When asked what the success was to achieving a smooth crossing, Charlie said, “It was great to sail with Sarah, we have similar sailing capabilities and we think the same way.” This became very useful when they managed to bend their spinnaker pole in a 55kt squall. During this challenging event it was up to Helen and Thomas to look after the children below deck and also provide the crew at the helm with delicious and much appreciate snacks.

The children of course had a ball together. After homeschooling in the morning it was time for movie afternoons. They have enjoyed star gazing every night before bedtime and with Christmas looming they have been opening their advent calendars every day. Stella said “my favourite day is Saturday because it’s Saturday Sweets day!” Beaming from ear to ear on arrival, it was clear to see these children have had a fabulous journey.

This year has brought so many unique options and different scenarios. Having completed their crossing many of the ARC fleet decide to keep any onward decision making to after they arrived. Indeed with ever changing regulations, sometimes daily, throughout the Caribbean islands it has been a bit of a minefield deciding where to go for Christmas. The ARC team keep up to date with the very latest C-19 information and are able to inform and assist boats with options for onward travel. No too dissimilar to previous years, St Vincent has a big attraction and some of the fleet have decide to make tracks for this beautiful island. Most of the Caribbean islands require a PCR test before arrival so having completed the quarantine process here in Saint Lucia it is expected many of the ARC and ARC+ fleet will stay to explore the beautiful shores and anchorages.

Whichever islands they choose to stopover in the locals are very appreciative of the support and efforts all the sailors have made to visit their islands this year.