The ARC Europe flag was hoisted up the flagpole on the breakwater on Sunday morning, marking the official opening of ARC Europe 2019 in Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola. This year, the six yellow shirts are Mark Burton, Cecilie Hammersland, Sarah Collins, Manuel Lima, Peter Burch and Peta Cozier, and by the end of the day on Sunday the team had checked-in 16 boats for ARC Europe and ARC USA, with further yachts still expected in the marina over the next few days. We even have a new entry, so a big welcome to Maria Concordia. With plenty of familiar faces, and some just beginning their ocean cruising adventures, the docks in Nanny Cay are buzzing with a great rally spirit already.
At check in, the rally team talks each boat through the numerous events on the rally pre-departure programme; plenty of activities will be taking place this week, including sundowners, seminars, safety demonstrations and dinners keeping crews busy until their day of departure. This year's Safety Team, Mark Burton and Peter Burch, have been out on the docks checking the whole list of items that each boat is required to carry in order to participate and ensure their passage to Bermuda, or Florida on this first leg will be a safe one. It is not just ticking through a check list, but a chance for the safety team to share their knowledge and explain why each item is important and the different approaches there are to each situation that may occur whilst at sea.
The social programme for the week begins at sunset on Monday evening, when the participants gather at the beach bar for rum punch and canapés, and perhaps try one of Nanny Cay’s famous Painkillers. Amongst the 34 boats starting from Nanny Cay this year, almost 80% have sailed with a World Cruising Club event before. It is always nice to see a familiar face from a recent rally such as ARC, ARC+, ARC Caribbean 1500 or World ARC. However, it is even better to welcome new people on the rally as they will soon be part of the ARC family.
Only 18 months after Irma wrought destruction on the island, Tortola and Nanny Cay made an incredible recovery! The difference between Nanny Cay at last year’s ARC Europe and now is impressive to say the least. New pontoons with electricity and running water, WI-Fi connections throughout the marina, new restaurant layouts and updated and rebuilt hotel facilities. When you look around, the horrible hurricane scars are less and less visible. New roofs, paint, buildings and greenery and Road Town is back to the bustling port town it once was – maybe even better. World Cruising Club and the ARC Europe participants are looking forward to enjoying a special programme here to kick-off the six week rally and playing a part to rebuilding it to what it was before.