Several more boats have now arrived at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in ARC+ and the docks are starting to come alive with happy participants who have now made landfall after their Atlantic crossing. On Thursday afternoon (2 Dec), Dale Simonson’s Lagoon 52 Helios (USA) finished at 16:31 local time, followed five hours later by the first monohull, Conor Haughey’s Moody 54DS Hiberian from Dublin, Ireland. Like the Puck family on the Norwegian Arcona 465 Arya, there were lots of beaming smiles as crews received their spice island welcome from the ARC+ yellow shirts and representatives from the Grenada Tourism Authority. Next to arrive was Marthe Faugstad and Anders Landro’s Norwegian Najad 490 Albicilla with their two children, Blue Passion, Helmut Rainalter’s Beneteau Oceanis 58 and Luca Sabiu's Pogo 40S2 Flow.
“It was really good. This was my third Atlantic crossing and by far the best so far,” said a happy Conor Haughey, owner of the new Moody 54DS Hiberian (IRE) – the first monohull to arrive in Grenada. “We had a few days of light winds at the start, but mostly we’ve had really good sailing wind. I’m very happy with the boat; we did a 202nm day which is a personal record for myself and I am delighted. I took part in the ARC rally three years ago and 23 years in a 53ft Beneteau. This is my first time in Grenada and I’ve heard all good reports about it. The sailing conditions were absolutely ideal though for this year’s ARC+. We were doing over 8 knots most of the way, reaching downwind, nice weather and very few swells, so the weather conditions were the best that I’ve ever had for crossing the Atlantic.”
“We saw a whale leaving Cape Verde and lot of dolphins and we were watching all the sea birds as we got closer to Grenada. We all know each other from sailing and back at home at Howth Yacht Club, Dublin. We are mostly into cruising, but I always say about the ARC that if you are leading it’s a race, but if you’re not, it’s a rally,” laughs Conor. “We did well, we were the first of the monohulls so very happy with that. This is a new boat and I hadn’t really tested for downwind sailing but I was very happy with its performance,” continues Conor who says Hiberian will sail back to Europe via the Azores.
We also caught up on the dock with Eighteen-year-old Megan Simonson from Naperville, Illinois (USA), who is part of the crew on Helios, her father’s new Lagoon 52ft catamaran. She is writing regular updates of her gap-year adventures on her Instagram - girl.on.a.boat1 and the family blog: 'From the Helios Helm': https://www.from-the-helios-helm.com.
Megan, who is fundraising for Cals Angels Charity for children fighting cancer said: “This has been the longest crossing I’ve done so far and most of it was really relaxing, apart from a few moments. The night watches were amazing as there were a lot of stars and I have an App on my phone that shows the constellations and planets etc, so I used that a lot. The trade winds were steady and we used our downwind sail all the time and were flying - that’s what our boat does best and for most of the trip, that’s what it was, total downwind sailing! We also had an amazing experience as we saw a pod of False Killer Whales (Pseudorca crassidens). I sat on the back of the boat with my lifejacket on and stuck my Go-Pro in the water, so I have some cool footage of whales swimming by the boat!"
"I would definitely recommend the experience to everyone and World Cruising Club just did an awesome job. We’ve been preparing for a year and they’ve helped us during this whole time with the seminars and everything else. We couldn’t have done it without the ARC+ rally,” continued Megan from Helios.
Megan’s father Dale says: “I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for my daughter’s insistence. I was hesitant about taking the leap to retire, purchasing a boat etc, but here we are!” Dale’s lifelong dream has been to buy a boat to sail around for a year and Megan had her eyes set on the same kind of gap year, so she “pushed and pushed,” to make sure their dreams became a reality and they signed up for the ARC+ and starting preparing over a year ago.
“I am thrilled to be here in Grenada and really happy with how our boat performed and we made a fast crossing from Mindelo. It was such a great experience and we keep talking about how are we even going to begin to describe it to someone who hasn’t done it; and I’ve no idea!” says Dale who also has his brother-in-law, his best friend and a mutual friend from their home town of Minnesota on board. Now living in Chicago, his wife was at the start in Las Palmas to help prepare the boat and will be meeting them in the Caribbean after the holidays. “It’s a bit different at home right now as it’s snowing! After ARC+ we will make our way up the Lesser Antilles until the end of April before heading back across to the Mediterranean.”
To find out more about the charity Charity: Together we can help grant wishes, raise awareness and fund research for clinical trials for kids fighting cancer - https://calsangels.networkforgood.com/projects/142069-crossing-for-a-cause
Norwegian Najad 490 Albicilla was the sixth boat to arrive at the finish in Grenada and owner, Anders Landro was pleased with the family boat’s performance. Sailing with his wife Marthe, their two children aged 9 and 12 and his brother Lars-Kristian, he was full of enthusiasm after docking: “We are a very heavy boat and don’t have a spinnaker, so we spent a lot of time sailing a long time down south, alone … but it turned out that decision, looking at the forecasts, was pretty good in the end. After five or six days we got good winds and we’ve done well to get here quite fast, so we are very pleased with that. The kids had a great time on board. They have been fishing and we did all the Christmas preparations, making the Christmas cake and advent calendar, etc. It’s been a great trip over. It’s been perfect.” After ARC+ the family intend to spend three months in the Caribbean before heading up to the USA, Canada and Greenland, before making their way back to Bergen, Norway.
Another family boat also arrived today and owner, Tor-Anders Puck on Arya spoke of quite strong winds and lots of squalls during their Atlantic crossing. “Some nights we had 12 hours of continuous squalls and it was quite hard. My brother and I were steering all the time; more or less two hours on and two hours off, so we are quite tired, but happy. The children got a little bored as 14 days at sea is quite a long time. They will have a good time here in the marina and with friends when they arrive.”
Today (Friday 3 Dec) we will start to see a stream of arrivals into Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, with a very busy weekend ahead and lots more ARC+ flags flying high to create a festival atmosphere in the marina. The ARC+ programme will also be in full swing, with the Camper & Nicholsons Market Village, island tours, happy hour at the Victory Bar and looking ahead, the ARC+ welcome to all crews at Sails Restaurant.