Escape to Summer: Sailing in the Atlantic Rally Cruise

There are 2 routes to choose from: the regular ARC from Gran Canaria direct to St. Lucia, or the ARC+ that takes a more southerly route with a stopover in Cape Verdes.

There are 2 routes to choose from: the regular ARC from Gran Canaria direct to St. Lucia, or the ARC+ that takes a more southerly route with a stopover in Cape Verdes.

‘Tis the season for hundreds of boats from Europe to escape winter and sail across the Atlantic!  This Sunday, over 1,000 people are embarking on an awesome adventure together: the Atlantic Rally Cruise (ARC). Tomorrow they push off the dock in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and sail into the wild blue yonder for a 2,700 nautical mile trip across the Atlantic.  They won’t see land again until they arrive in beautiful, sunny St. Lucia in the Caribbean sometime just before Christmas!

Sea to Sky Sailing offers sailing lessons to help you with step 1 of launching your own epic offshore adventure.

The ARC has been running for 30 years, giving ordinary people of all ages and sailing experience a chance to be part of a daring journey across the Atlantic with the safety net of plenty of other boats around and an organization that helps boats prepare for the journey. 

Some boats are professionally managed with a commercial skipper on board; anyone can join the crew for a fee regardless of their own experience.  Other boats are privately owned and crewed by family, friends and often even strangers found through online crew banks.  After roughly 3 weeks at sea together, no one is landing in St. Lucia as strangers and they have all learned a thing or two about sailing!

The primary goals of the ARC are safety and fun.  Crossing an ocean is not a small undertaking.  There are some obvious hazards involved, and being part of a larger fleet helps to mitigate these risks. The ARC organization hosts safety workshops leading up to the event and has rigorous safety standards that boats must meet to participate.  They track the boats online for the duration of the crossing, staying in contact with each and every one to ensure the boats all get across the Atlantic safely together.

The fun factor is huge with the ARC.  The rally is not a traditional race, so boats can pick their desired level of competition from "none, let’s go fishing" through to "pedal down, get there as fast as possible".  Two weeks of shore parties and events are held in Gran Canaria, where sailors from all over the world can meet, mingle and share in the nervous, slightly manic excitement leading up to departure day.  In St. Lucia, the festivities start right back up again as soon as the first boat lands. Crew on the ARC make friends for life both on board and on shore with all those who have been lucky enough to share the incredible experience of sailing across an ocean.

So why are we talking about the ARC from way over here in Vancouver? We’re not even sailing on the same ocean! 

Firstly, several friends of Sea to Sky are heading off on the ARC and we are enthusiastically / jealously prepared to track them online for their trip and cheer them on.  Especially awesome are two different all-ladies crews making the trip! 

Beard optional.

Beard optional.

Secondly, the ARC is a great example of where sailing skills can take you.  It is easy to think that serious ocean crossings require decades of acquiring arcane maritime knowledge, in depth experience sailing on every kind of ship, and possibly a thick grey beard. 

Most of those things are certainly worth aspiring to, but not actually necessary on a modern day adventure like the ARC.  I have sailed with a number of delightful rookie crew who had only a handful of sailing lessons before heading out across the Atlantic (evidently with a highly experienced skipper in charge!).  The secret to a great sailing adventure like the ARC, is just diving in

 Check out how to get started here and go for it! 

See you on the water,

Katy