Source: The 2016 ARC fleets sets sail for St. Lucia under clear skies

ARC banners abound in the run-up to the start in Las Palmas

Every year since 1986, a group of around 200 cruising boats has gathered in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, ready to set forth across the Atlantic Ocean—their destination, the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean’s beautiful Windward Isles.

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is now one of 11 sailing rallies organized by the UK organization World Cruising Club (WCC). Based in the Isle of Wight, the WCC has played a major role in encouraging, overseeing and nurturing the crews of these intrepid yachts, many of whom have never crossed an ocean before under sail. This past December I had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at exactly how the fleet goes about preparing for what, by any measure, is a major undertaking.


The fleet arrives in dribs and drabs over the two weeks prior to the start, but ideally participants should aim to check in a week beforehand, so that WCC officials will have time to process things like comms contacts, crew numbers, IDs and boat papers. Arriving early also allows crews and skippers to make the most of the numerous free seminars available in the week prior to their departure.

Cruisers come from all over the world, with some even setting out from Northern Europe a full five-six weeks in advance. Most, though, enjoy a summer of cruising in the Mediterranean before leaving from the Balearics or Gibraltar for the Canaries. Many U.S. entrants will have also come

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