Following the emotional departure of the ARC fleet from Las Palmas Marina over a week ago to a cacophony of music, horns and farewell cheers, the crews of ARC 2022 have been embracing the sounds of the ocean as they munch down the miles to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.
The first week at sea has delivered plenty of special moments bearing the hallmarks of a great ocean sail – highs and lows included. Following Sunday’s start, “It only took less than 24 hours for most of the boats to scatter, leaving us with uninterrupted views of the sea up to the horizon. It’s an awful lot of space! Above, below and all around.” reported Imara of the crew of Endeavour III. “Sailing downwind with our sails goose-winged, we steamed forward at an average of 8.5 knots. This didn’t let up overnight, and we found ourselves waking up to another beautiful day cruising along the ocean.”
On entering the acceleration zone off the south of the island, stronger winds greeted the fleet, as forecast in the Skippers Briefing. Sunbeat VI reported, “The start was cloudy bright in force 4-5, and went smoothly. The wind was behind us and we were sailing under reefed main and jib. The wind got up to force 7-8 later, so we went down to the 3rd reef in the main and partly rolled up jib. Wind is now force 6-7 and very manageable. We put a gybe in just before it got dark in order to head more westerly.”
There were a few initial boat problems leaving Las Palmas, with Andromeda, Freoli and Makhanee requiring repairs and forcing their return to the Canary Islands. A small number of boats with breakages or power problems decided to carry on south, heading to Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands for repairs. Of those delayed at the start, all are now on their way westwards and with an encouraging forecast, the scene is set for a classic trade wind crossing.
As the first days at sea continued, routines on board settled into watches and any afflictions of initial seasickness generally abated. By Thursday, as millions of Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, ARC and ARC+ sailors also joined in. Mealtimes are usually the highlight of the day on board, so special celebrations are a nice way to mark the occasion with a feast.
“The food is the most important thing on a long ocean crossing like an ARC Rally because it makes you remember how great is to prepare a delicious meal, see people gather around the table, talk, laugh, and eat with delight. We often don’t have time for that on land anymore.” reflects Karolina on board Oceano. “Cooking on board is an adventure. Our senses are sharpened, our bodies feel alive, our imagination is free from daily burdens. We want to feel, taste, we want to appreciate. For me the boat restaurant is always the best one, most surprising, filled with conversations, with the best view and millions of stars (above) way better than any Michelin’s. And that is the very essence of what culinary experience is - nourishing the body and the heart. You just need your imagination, a bit of boldness and a little help from your friends.” The crew of Betegeuse shown above are all smiles as they get the flavours flowing in the galley - even if cooking at an angle takes a bit of getting used to!
Landing a fresh fish for a meal is always the icing on the cake, with a number of fishing triumphs reported so far. Topping the unofficial leaderboard is Joanna, landing a 75cm 15kg bluefin tuna, with plenty more respectable landings swiftly dispatched as fresh as it gets. “Today, we caught a beautiful fish which we identified as a Mahi Mahi. 85cm and probably about 2kg.” reported the crew of Avventura on day 6, sending in photos to their blog of their hooked prize and dinner plate results.
During the evening of Sunday 27 November, Grand Soleil 54 Take Off suffered structural failure to their mast, resulting in its loss, and a crew member was injured as a result. JRCC Cabo Verde and Rally Control were informed and assistance from fellow ARC yacht Aphrodite 1 was provided. A number of other yachts in the area were also made aware of the situation, being on standby if needed. Following an assessment by a doctor, the injured crew member and two others were transferred from Take Off to US NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown. Take Off will continue their passage westwards to Saint Lucia under engine, with fellow yachts offering fuel as needed to the dismasted vessel.
When problems arise with boats sailing as a fleet such as the ARC, it is certainly when the rally spirit becomes most evident, but there is also the daily camaraderie displayed on the SSB Radio Net, and an email newsletter is being curated and circulated by Social Secretary Sylvain on Jayana. Knowing there are others in the expanse of the ocean, even if out of sight, is a great comfort, and will make the reunions in Rodney Bay all the sweeter.
Currently leading the fleet towards Saint Lucia’s Pitons is Marsaudon ORC 50 Malolo, regularly munching over 220nm per day towards the finish as the performance catamaran continues to fly. Malolo looks set to beat the current Multihull Course Record of 11d 16h 49m 15s set in ARC 2019, with their arrival currently predicted during the afternoon of 1st December, local time. The Malolo crew are part of a joint American-Canadian multihull racing program, with the mantra of, “getting there as fast as you can and in a sensible and safe way” paying off for the six-man crew who have sailed a perfect tactical course so far.
Follow the fleet's progress on the Fleet Viewer, YB Races App and click here to read the blogs from the boats.