After 5 days at sea, the first boats of ARC Europe 2019 slipped quietly onto anchorage during the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning, 9th May. Just shy of 0500 local time, Oceanis, a Beneteau Oceanis 58, led the way through the clear crystal waters into St. George’s Town followed rapidly by Phantom and Sea Flute. A little too early for clearance, the boats waited patiently until the Customs Office opened after, which they were greeted on the docks by the World Cruising Club yellow shirts and enjoyed a welcome Goslings Dark‘n Stormy.
With the two ARC Europe & ARC USA fleets coming together in Bermuda, 32 boats will converge here; those who left Nanny Cay on Saturday are swiftly integrated with the starters from Portsmouth, Virginia, as well as new joiners beginning the rally to Europe. Thanks to the watchful eye of Bermuda Radio high on Fort George Hill, it's relatively easy managing the arrival movements of the fleet. Bermuda Radio ‘tags’ each boat that is approaching the island, sometimes from as far as 50 miles away, and keep close tabs on any vessel traffic around the area. ARC Europe Rally Control has provided the pre-arrival information for the fleet to the authorities so on arrival, boats efficiently clear customs and can make their way to a berth at the Town Docks, or St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club managed by Bermuda Yacht Services, or choose to anchor in the bay.
Friday was a busy day with all but 3 boats from the fleet crossing the finish line. A good thing too, as that evening was the first rally function, Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy Pirate Costume Party the Pirate themed costume party at the Dinghy Club. From the veranda, the Club carries the best views of St George’s Harbour and all of the visiting yachts. This is a busy time of year for Bermuda as many yachts pass through on their way to the Azores and also back to the US east coast and so the anchorage is full. The Dinghy Club is reserved for only rally boats and it’s great to see so many boats stern to the dock, and the rally also takes over the Town Quay.
Everyone certainly got into the spirit of the Pirate party and let their hair down after the 5-6 day trip from Tortola. With sunset as the backdrop, the party kicked off with the Gombey Dancers, twirling and dancing to the heavy drums, their coloured fringes and peacock feathered masks adding to the pageantry. There was a delicious BBQ cooking at one end while the DJ had participants on the floor well past midnight!
Many crews have been out and about exploring the islands of Bermuda on scooters, as there are no rental cars. Visiting the Crystal Caves and the Railway trails and making it down to the city of Hamilton and some as far as the Dockyard onboard the daily ferries.
For many this is their first time here in Bermuda and they are all pleasantly surprised by this gem of a place in the middle of the Atlantic! It is an interesting mix of American and English, tropical and temperate and some of the
As it’s Saturday, it’s refuelling day and a chance for boats to take on duty free fuel. Things ran smoothly with the yellow shirts directing the boats in anchorage to come through first, followed by the Dinghy Club and finally, the Town Quay. It’s wonderful to watch participants work together, carrying additional jerry cans if required and tying up the boats that return from the fuel run. The first leg was a little light for the last 2 days so we are seeing some high engine hours so there will be plenty of savings being made at the pump. It will be interesting to see how the motoring effects the results which will all be announced at the Prizegiving on Sunday night.