Wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing, taking PCR tests before departure…who could have ever imagined we would have had such a different Atlantic Rally for Cruisers edition in 2020? Just as the world has adapted to the restrictions in place, so have the intrepid ARC+ participants as they prepare for their Atlantic crossing. Here we are - the rally is taking place, and although the social events have been cancelled here in Las Palmas to follow local protocols, the weeks are progressing according to plan and crews are busy with preparations for the ocean crossing. The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed, and participants are looking forward to being back at sea.
"The ARC+ is quite different from the usual ones due to Corona." writes ARC+ participant Holger from yacht Rivercafe on his blog. "There are no parties in Gran Canaria, no live seminars, no excursions and no flag parade. To compensate, all crews have to take a PCR test three days before departure. Big fun. From this week on we are not allowed to have any contact with others and the only 26 crews left, have to stay in “bubbles”... But all this does not detract from the good atmosphere between the crews. There are radio rounds, whatsapp groups and ladies meetings on the beach."
"All the ships that are here in Las Palmas have already spent a long time at sea, 5 days and nights at least. Mostly sailing from Madeira, Gibraltar or Portugal. The Rivercafe surely has had the longest journey with Cape Town behind it. But in front of everyone there are 3.000 nm Atlantic waves as soon as we pass the harbour wall. Those are the moments when you respectfully realize how big and wild our nature can be. And surely many will ask themselves why they do this to themselves."
"We are now turning into the home stretch and the excitement is rising. For the last week we have planned extensive briefings and trainings. But there will also be time for a ship christening. The champagne is already cold."
"The weather should also get better again, but I think there is nobody at this jetty who is not looking forward to the Caribbean. And to the cold rum punch on arrival...."
As Holger mentions, the crews are in a pre-isolation period this week, ahead of the start on Sunday. This meant a busy programme last week to fit in some shoreside activities, including the ARC Forest Project and Air-Sea Helicopter Demonstration. Roger Seymour from Hamble School of Yachting has been conducting safety inspections from above deck and children enjoyed a three day kids club programme and even had a little time for some Hallowe'en fun!
This week, many have attended the virtual seminars held as live sessions encouraging participants to ask questions to World Cruising Club's experienced lecture team. On Monday, these included the 'Doublehanded Workshop;' for yachts sailing with only two crew. World Cruising Club's Andrew Bishop was joined by Chris and Helen Tibbs who have sailed extensively together as a couple and there were plenty of top tips covering sailing techniques, coping with tiredness, effective communication and safety advice. This was followed by a Management of Emergencies session, focussing on advice for skippers to consider contingencies for scenarios that are thankfully very rare, but still possible, on an Atlantic sail such as the ARC.
All ARC+ yachts will be fitted with YB Trackers from tomorrow, Wednesday, with the tracking data available live on the website and YB Races app for friends and family to follow along at home.