There has been a mixture of emotions since the start of the 2018 ARC Caribbean 1500 and ARC Bahamas. Nervousness, happiness, excitement, and stress, were all present at the Skipper’s Briefing in Portsmouth, VA. Knowing that there was no tropical activity forecasted, and with good winds to sail down the coast to Cape Hatteras where we would then cross the gulf stream, our fleet set off at 10AM on November 4. After a great sail beam reaching down the coast in 25 knot winds, it was time to cross the gulf stream. As a warm front passed through and brought rain, gusts, and southerly winds, we made our turn to port and headed out into the open water.
Although most made the journey across the stream in the early hours of November 5, some crew had been cursed with seasickness or breakages. In all, two boats headed to Beaufort with seasick crew, one boat with a damaged propeller shaft, and a final boat returned to Hampton with a broken furling system.
With the rest of the Caribbean 1500 fleet across the stream and ~300 miles offshore, it was smooth sailing until… A weather alert from WRI about tropical activity forming in the Caribbean! With this newfound information, our fleet had an important decision to make. 1) Continue to the BVI with an early morning arrival before November 13 to avoid the tropical storm, 2) Divert to Bermuda, or 3) Divert to Turks and Caicos. With a variety boats, there were a variety of choices made.
In total, 5 boats made the decision to divert to Bermuda… Fluensea, Pack N Play, High C’s, One Love, and SMILE went to St. George in Bermuda. Pack N Play has already set off from Bermuda and is enroute to the BVI, while the rest are fueling up, resting, and waiting for another good weather window to head south.
Three boats made the decision to go to Turks and Caicos. Sawdust, Eclipse, and Passion Place made the turn to starboard and took a direct course for Turtle Cove Marina in Turks and Caicos. With the forecasted tropical depression to be right on top of the BVI during these boats arrival, they all made the conscious decision it would be safer to be in a protected port before the storm was upon them. All three boats are tied up in Turtle Cove Marina with all okay on board.
As for the BVI, We currently have 6 boats that beat the tropical depression. Moonwave, a 60-foot Gunboat, was the first to arrive to Nanny Cay Marina on November 12th with ZERO engine hours! They were followed by Phantom, Serenity, Karina, Sirius, and Saga. Moonshadow and Happy Heart are both due into the BVI later tonight and plan on anchoring at Peter Island until the worst of the weather has passed.
Mira and Triple Shot have taken a far north and easterly route in order to stay out of the way of the tropical depression before heading south to the islands. Triple Shot will join us in Tortola, while Mira plans on meeting family and friends in Antigua.
As for the boats still on the east coast of the US. Lulu and Sea Larks are waiting in Beaufort for a good weather window to head to the BVI, while Nirvana plans to take it easy and hop down the east coast exploring whatever port catches their interest. Nirvana plans on joining the rally again in 2019.
All in all, we are extremely happy with how our boats handled the situation at sea, and are looking forward to seeing them all in the BVI very soon! Safe sailing to all.
-ARC Caribbean 1500 Rally Control