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ARC+: Friends reunited

by World Cruising Club 3 Dec 2022 23:26 UTC
ARC Plus © ARC Atlantic Rally for Cruisers

Seventy boats have now finished their ARC+ Atlantic crossing from Cape Verde to Grenada, including two more family boats: Anni and Emilie VII; both from Norway. With 36 children under the age of 16 sailing on 18 different boats, the young sailors have made many friends on different boats throughout the fleet.

Eight year-old Agnes Rasmussen and sister Klara (10) were delighted to see their Norwegian friends waiving and smiling at them as they arrived on the dock this morning. Once their parents had moored up the Hanse 371, they excitedly jumped onto the dock and gave their waiting playmates a huge hug. "It's been a long time on the ocean", said a smiling Klara; obviously glad to be on dry land and to see her buddies again. They will be looking forward to a swim in the marina pool and to Tuesday's Kids Fun Day, part of the ARC+ social programme.

As more and more boats cross the finish line and come to their final berth at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, the atmosphere is one of joy and happiness, as tired, but elated crews, who have just arrived, congratulate each other on their achievement.

Chris Greenwood's 1998 Malö 42 Sea Candy arrived in Grenada after sunset on Friday 2 December. The boat was bought in 2017 and took part in the ARC that year, so this is their second crossing. The next morning, it was time to move to their berth, have their crew photo taken, and to enjoy a full welcome in daylight. Before settling down to breakfast, owner Chris said: "The weather for the first part of the passage was very good, but we had less wind in the middle of the crossing, and then rain for the first time, only in the last two days. It was so unusual that we all sat out under this squall just to experience what it was like!"

Chris is sailing with his wife Mary, brother Peter and friends Rob and Leona. Their boat has already spent three months in Grenada after being here the lockdown. "I realise I was quite unprepared for the previous crossing in 2017," said Chris. "But this time I was better prepared mentally." Family and friends will now be joining them for some Caribbean island cruising before they complete their Atlantic circuit with ARC Europe next spring.

Playing catch up

Arrivals also include a group of old university friends who are all recently retired dentists and orthodontists. Owner of the Victorie 42 Caledonia, Alastair Gardner and crew were pleased with their 13 half day crossing after a delayed departure from Las Palmas, as crew member Simon Reeves explains: "We bought the boat down from the top of Holland in May and made our way to Las Palmas, arriving in September. As we entered the port, we had issues. It turned out our saildrive had failed and we needed to have a new one fitted. The boatyard could only fit it the week of the start, so we all flew back home and then back again to ready for the crossing. When they hauled her out, they found a big crack in the front of the skeg, in front of the rudder, so that all had to be dried out and rebuilt. That's what took the time." Consequently, Caledonia left Las Palmas on leg 1, five days after the main fleet.

"The marina in Las Palmas were fantastic and the standard of work was great. We've been playing catch-up the whole time. We watched everyone leave, but then, once all the work was done, we finally left and arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands. We were only there for a day though before we all set off together on the last leg to Grenada. We arrived at 01.30 in the morning on 2nd December and it was a dream crossing. We tried to sail down the rhumb line, and for most part, were quite successful. We had breakages, like many of the boats, but we are very pleased on the whole. If we stay fifth in our division, we will be delighted. We didn't expect anything like that."

Fellow crew member Phil Sommereux added: "We did have some issues, for example, our autopilot kept blowing fuses, so we manually helmed the whole way across. Earlier on we had issues with the generator cutting out or not charging our battery, and then when we put the engine on to charge the batteries it wasn't doing it, so we had to use power conservation, but it is great to be here with the rest of the fleet after a great crossing."

Water, salt, sun and a lot of laughs

Arriving into Grenada shortly after Caledonia was Ulrik Wehtje's X-Yachts Xc45 Xenial (SWE). Extracts from their boat log as they approached their Grenada read:

"Sometime in the night between Thursday and Friday, depending on whether we were still on Xenial Standard Time, or on local Grenada time, Janne cried 'Land'. We sat on deck watching the lights get closer and closer and looking at the mile count get smaller and smaller. In between Christmas songs (you can't blame me for that), we listened on the radio as boats and friends who had not seen each other in days or weeks greeted each other with joy. I thought it was wonderful to hear all these happy voices. We were welcomed by an ARC yellowshirt who served us our first, and certainly not last, rum punch. We were cheered on by the crew of Infinity who were moored next to us. We had made it! We sailed across the Atlantic Ocean! 2,200 nautical miles of water, salt, sun and a lot of laughs! To the ARC+ team and our fellow participants, it has been our pleasure to get to know you and share such a great experience with you. You have made us feel part of a community." Mavi, Xenial.

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