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Fortitude on forty footers

Although the average boat length in the ARC is 15.51m (51ft), almost half of the boats sailing across range from 40ft-50ft in ARC 2016. From family cruisers to collections of friends ticking off that bucket list sailing adventure, the ARC is always popular with boats of this size and they come from all over the world to join the rally. With week two of preparations now underway in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the countdown to start day ticking away, we caught up with some of the crews of the forty-footers.

Back on their own boat 
The aptly named, Cubaneren, with an unusual cigar-shaped narrow hull is owned by Norwegian sailor Karl Otto Book and his wife. They have previously sailed in the event, this will be their first crossing on board their own boat, a lovingly restored Norwegian Wassa built in 1982. 

“Three years ago we decided to do the ARC crossing and our plan is to go around the world,” says Karl Otto Book whose is from a small town 100 km south of Oslo. “Since we bought the boat five years ago, we have carried out a massive refit; all we kept was the hull, deck and keel. We won’t have much space on board with four of us, but will change crew, two on, two off, every two hours, so we will manage. Quite early in our planning we knew we would join the ARC, mainly because of the social aspect of the rally, both here in Las Palmas and Saint Lucia. Our two Father’s who are experienced sailors will join us for the crossing and are hoping for a good start and look forward to enjoying the whole experience in our own boat. After we arrive in Saint Lucia we will sail west quite quickly and plan to go through the Panama Canal in January or February and see where it takes us from there.”

A dream come true

Koen Simkins on High Five, the Belgian Beneteau Oceanis 43 was on board waiting for his ARC Safety Equipment Inspection and spoke about his dream of sailing across the Atlantic and around the world. He has taken a two-year sabbatical from his job as a driving school instructor after purchasing the boat three years ago. “I’ve always wanted to do a circumnavigation since I was very young,” says Koel from Nieuwpoort began sailing when he was six years old with his Grandfather. “For the ARC there will be five crew from Belgium and Holland, including my brother-in-law. My wife is not so keen on long-distance sailing so will join us in the Caribbean with our three children aged 3, 7 and 8. We will be in the Caribbean for 20 months and are uncertain of our plans after that.”
Koen likes the whole concept and atmosphere of the ARC and the idea of sailing across with lots of other yachts. “You meet many other sailors and they share their experiences. It’s kind of addictive because you get caught up in the feeling of why we are doing this and realise that your dream has actually become reality. It is really good to have the organisation of the ARC team to make sure we do our safety checks and have all the information and help we need; it’s very reassuring.”

No time like the present
Paul and Babs Watkins, members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and Royal Airforce Yacht Club in Hamble, UK sailed their Moody 44, Lyra Magna doublehanded from Hamble, UK to Las Palmas. The Bay of Biscay was the longest time at sea for Babs and she will not be joining her husband and his three sailing friends for the ARC crossing, but will meet them in the Caribbean. A fifth crew member was going to join them, but due to illness is now unable to take part in their transatlantic adventure and will be following their progress closely.

“We have had the boat for six years and we talked about an Atlantic crossing and we knew we were coming up to retirement,” explains Babs, a senior nursing Sister at Southampton General Hospital and her airline pilot husband, Paul. “Our retirement plans came sooner than we expected, plus we lost some close friends this year and another is ill, so we decided to do it now whilst we can. We always talked about doing it but I never really thought we would do it,” explains Babs who has written a much-followed blog of her experiences since leaving home.

Three sailing couples
David and Vicky Addey are part way through a self-build house project at home in Sherbourne, Dorset, but this has been put on hold to fulfil David’s ambition to sail the ARC as a skipper. He has sailed in the ARC twice, once as a paying guest and once as crew for a friend. This year he will be celebrating his 60th birthday at sea and will be sailing with wife Vicky, a retired primary school teacher on her first Atlantic crossing. They will be joined by two other couples; all great friends who have all known each other since their children were born.

“We are towards the lower end of boat length at 41ft and I think we might be going for the prize for the largest number of people per foot,” says David. “Six people on our boat is sort of too many, but the three couples come as a team and at least we’ll all get plenty of sleep. We’ve given up the forepeak for food storage and are going to hot-bunk it at night too.”

The Addey’s will be joined in Saint Lucia by their children who will sail with them down to Grenada.