It has been a busy few days in Plymouth’s Mayflower Marina as the crews of ARC Portugal 2019 have been preparing for their departure on Sunday. Provisioning trips, equipment tweaks and ticking final items off the jobs list has seen the docks bustling with activity. Spirits are high as crews are looking forward to what the coming weeks of the rally have in store, and they are ready for the challenging first leg across the Bay of Biscay ahead of them.
At the Rally briefing yesterday, Andrew Bishop explained that the idea for ARC Portugal came from a cruise he took down the coast of Portugal in the late eighties. The friendliness of the Portuguese, the fine wine, unlimited sardines and the beauty of the countryside & towns along this rarely visited coast, inspired the idea for a cruise-in-company. ARC Portugal celebrates its 25th sail to the sun in 2019, and more than 500 boats have taken part so far. While the itinerary has changed over the years, the ethos of a social cruise with exploring ashore and afloat has remained strong. As Andrew explained the many organised tours and excursions that the crews can expect in the coming weeks, crews are now eager to caste off and start exploring.
With seventeen boats heading south from Plymouth, and three more due to join them en route, their plans on arrival in southern Portugal are quite diverse. As part of the briefing, Andrew asked each skipper to introduce themselves and the boat, and also explain their plans and reasons for heading to Marina de Lagos. The big question open for debate amongst the different crew is whether to head left to the Med, or right to the Caribbean, or stay to enjoy the Algarve for a season or or longer.
Following on from the briefing and a complimentary glass of wine, crews were asked to take a seat at one of the circular tables as dinner was ready to be served. Participants continued to mingle after dinner and ambled back to the marina in their own time. It was fantastic to witness so many participants making such strong bonds so early in the rally. Long may it continue.
Saturday has brought glorious sunshine to Mayflower as participants complete some last minute shopping for food and any other equipment required for the crossing. Final paperwork has been handed in to the office and YB trackers have been installed on each yacht. The briefing takes place this afternoon where skippers will be briefed on weather outlooks, and procedures as they make the Biscay crossing and on arrival into Bayona where the rally team will be waiting to greet them.