Preparing for a Rally
What do I need?
To join a World Cruising Club rally, you will need a seaworthy boat. We don't define the type of boat, but we do set some limits on boat length (see the FAQs in the rally pages), and we expect you and your boat to have completed an offshore passage in the year before the rally.
We do expect your boat to carry certain items of equipment, and that you understand how to use these. This includes a list of mandatory safety equipment - see Safety - and also communications equipment.
For all our transocean rallies (ARC, Carib1500, ARC USA/Europe and World ARC) we require boats to be able to send and receive emails at sea. This can be done with a satellite telephone, or with an SSB radio and Pactor modem. We will send the weather forecasts, boat positions and important fleet information by email.
For ARC Portugal, ARC Baltic, ARC DelMarVa and the Malts Cruise, you are not required to have satcoms or SSB radio, but you do need an installed VHF radio.
Most people these days want to stay in touch with friends and family back home, and sending emails with a satellite phone is relatively cheap and easy to do. Satellite phones can be bought second hand or even rented. If you are contemplating a year or more cruising, then consider buying a satellite phone - you can always sell it when you return home. A satellite phone can be a vital communication tool in an emergency.
SSB radio is the traditional cruisers communication method, and is a great way to meet new people and gather cruising information. If you are sailing round the world, or considering extended cruising, then an SSB is very useful. It is important to have it installed professionally, and to really understand how to use it - taking a course is a good idea. It it required equipment for World ARC.
AIS (Automatic Identification System)
An AIS receiver is required for all our rallies except Malts Cruise and ARC DelMarVa.
Preparing my boat
Almost any boat can become a successful ocean cruiser. Most of the boats that take part in our rallies are standard production boats from well-known builders. Almost more important than the boat itself is to check and double check every system for faults, and to spend time and money maintaining the boat and equipment. Windflower III is a Bavaria 46 that has sailed over 60,000 miles with World Cruising Club rallies, including right around the world.
When you join a rally you will receive a Rally Handbook which is full of advice on preparing your boat, including step-by-step systems, deck and rigging checks. Understanding how your boat works, and carrying a good supply of tools and spares will help you to be self-sufficient. If you are not a natural 'fixer', then take a course or watch when your boat is serviced, and ask lots of questions.
There are some great books full of advice on maintaining your boat and her systems, so do some shopping. We'll provide suggestions in the Rally Handbook, or visit our Shop.
Life onboard your boat can be as comfortable or basic as you decide. Some cruisers consider freezers, watermakers, generators and onboard entertainment to be essential, while others prefer a simpler life with windvane steering, no refrigeration and minimal electronics.
It's your choice! Think about how long you intend to be away cruising, and how you like to live. If you want to have a shower every day, then a large capacity watermaker will be vital. If you think you will only shower once or twice a week, then large water tanks and extra jerry jugs may be enough.
Whatever you do, don't set sail in a new boat, or with new equipment, and expect it to work faultlessly. Every sailor experiences breakages and failures - some will be user error, some installation problems, and some manufacturer faults. Take time to sail the boat and test the equipment thoroughly before you start a long voyage - it is easier to fix things in your home port, than at sea or in a foreign country!