The first leg of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), one of the highlights of the international sailing calendar, gets underway from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on November 20th 2016. The rally – a 2,700 nautical mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the finish line at Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia – is one of the seafaring adventures every cruiser should undertake at least once in their lifetime.
More than 1200 people set sail in over 200 boats each year. The race attracts an eclectic mix of participants; from salty, seasoned racers to families with children. The magic of the event goes far beyond the race itself, with two weeks of pre-departure activities in Las Palmas and all the beauty and mystery of the Caribbean to experience on the arrival of the cruisers in Saint Lucia. Lifelong friendships are forged as participants embark on an unforgettable adventure crossing the open ocean, keeping in contact with each other over the radio net while at sea.
A typical crossing time for a 40ft cruising boat is between 18 and 21 days depending on weather (and the skill and style of the sailors of course!). Those with a competitive streak have a tough time to beat, as the record for fastest time was beaten last year by Team Brunel, VO65, which managed the passage in an impressive 8 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes and 30 seconds. Teams in the Racing Division are not permitted to use their engines, but for other vessels it is perfectly permissible to switch on the engine – it is a cruising rally after all!
On arrival in Rodney Bay, ARC sailors enjoy the warm Caribbean hospitality of Saint Lucia as they are greeted with a refreshing rum punch, chilled beer and fresh fruit. The adventure is far from over though, as there are a range of ARC activities to enjoy, including a jazz night; cocktail party; ARC lectures on Caribbean cuisine and cruising; and of course the all-important prize giving ceremony. Many cruisers continue their voyage, exploring the azure waters of the Caribbean and heading over to the beautiful British Virgin Islands and beyond.
Penn’s Landing Marina is a convenient stop for ARC boaters on their return journey to the US, providing secure on-the-water moorings throughout the year, even during hurricane season. An expert team is on hand, so yacht-owners requiring repairs and maintenance after their long voyage across the world’s second largest ocean will find Penn’s Landing has all they need. Weekly boat inspections are available for yachts left on long-term moorings – a useful option for sailors returning to the US to work or visit family.
Short-term and overnight docking is available and the easily accessible grocery store, chandlery and gas station make Penn’s Landing Marina the perfect spot for ARC sailors to resupply and refuel before continuing to explore the BVI and the Caribbean islands beyond Saint Lucia.