(Nanny Cay, BVI)- The longest-running ocean crossing rally in North America, the “1500” is a must-do for many cruisers. The ARC Caribbean 1500 fleet sails from Portsmouth, VA at the mouth the Chesapeake Bay to Nanny Cay on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The start port and dates make the most of the available weather to maximize your Caribbean sailing, and the week-long pre-departure program will gets relaxed and ready for cruising.
Without a doubt the most difficult part of getting to the Caribbean is timing the weather window before departure. Fall on the East Coast is squeezed between late summer hurricane season and early winter gale season. By joining the 1500, you can rest assured that the “experts” are there to take the pressure off of that decision. Our support team consists of professional ocean sailors working closely with weather forecasters at WRI (Weather Resources Inc) to ensure the fleet makes it across the Gulf Stream and into warmer waters in the best possible conditions.
This year, a J/42 had a field day with those forecasts and sailed a fantastic crossing despite a self-imposed handicap! KEEP IT SIMPLE, J-42 hull# 12 skippered by Joe Reed of Annapolis, Maryland placed 1st for a second straight year in the ARC Caribbean 1500 in Class B. The rally started a day early and KEEP IT SIMPLE was delayed in starting while waiting for their crew to arrive! KEEP IT SIMPLE crossed the starting line Sunday November 4th at 09:10 AST, 19 hour after the official early start in Hampton Roads, VA. This resulted in a less favorable weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream than what the main body of the fleet experienced.
Nevertheless, KEEP IT SIMPLE was able to catch the main body of the fleet within just two days. For most of the 1500nm the wind was from the Northeast, a nice angle of sail for KEEP IT SIMPLE since it was a “power-beat”, a fast-sailing, waterline mode for her. The last two days the apparent wind angle was around 35 degrees with a boat speed of 7+ knots.
Leaping like a gazelle across the deep Atlantic swells, KEEP IT SIMPLE lived up to her name, sailing fast, easy and straight as an arrow, crossing the finish line Monday evening November 11th and then proceeded to Nanny Cay Marina, BVI. The boat performed very well and, in fact, the crew reported they actually slowed down for a couple days for crew comfort in heavy weather!! Amazing story. Making victory all the sweeter for winning for the second time in a row with a 19 hour handicap! The KEEP IT SIMPLE crew narrowly missed Overall Fleet honors by less than five hours (conversely, apply their self-imposed handicap time and reversing it out, they might’ve won by over 14 hours)! For more ARC Caribbean 1500 Rally sailing information
The “big daddy” of all the ARC Rallies happens to be one that sails the 2,700nm across the Atlantic on the old tradewinds “trading route” from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. The ARC is a “must do” for many cruising sailors and regularly attracts over 200 boats and 1,200 people every year.
The ARC is for everyone; families with children, tough racers, cruising couples, big boats and modest boats. Crossing the Atlantic together, but having their own adventures. More than just a boat race, the ARC is about friendships made ashore in the two weeks of pre-departure activities continued over the “radio net” at sea. It’s about arriving in Saint Lucia to be met on the dock with a rum punch and a chilled beer, knowing you have achieved something fantastic - crossing an ocean on a small sailboat.
At this stage, the J/120 EL OCASO, now proudly sailed by her new owners, Lucy & Christian Reynolds, are making that trek across the Atlantic and have, truly, a few “fish stories” to tell. Reporting from their Daily Blog on November 29th was one of their crew members- Benjamin, 32 yrs old from Berlin, Germany:
“I started sailing at the age of 13 on the rivers and lakes in Berlin, then went on to do the RYA Day Skipper and began chartering in the Med for vacation. After having spent the last 4 years in the deserts of the Arabian peninsula, with little to no possibility to pursue his hobby of sailing, he decided that crossing the Atlantic Ocean would be just the right antidote.
Days 5-6 Report for us? Well, after a calm, clear night, which displayed a magnificent view of stars and the night sky, the day started with a no less impressive red sun slowly climbing above the horizon. El Ocaso and children were greeted by dolphins which accompanied the boat for nearly an hour. Then the wind started dying and came to a complete halt just before dinner. After bobbling around for a while, the “dog watch” was blessed with a constant 10 knot wind that got us going again. In the morning hours, as we watched a bird nearby, and just commented on maybe there will be fish around this area, did we suddenly look to the end of our line and saw a fish!! Woken by the noise, Dom, the designated harpooner and dedicated fisherman, jumped up from his bed and, together with Xav, brought in what was originally thought to be a Mackerel. But, after further discussion we thought the fish "looked like it had a disco ball head" when it came out of the water, so the decision became that it was a ‘Mahi Mahi’!! So, it will become a lovely lunch for us! We are now trucking along at 277 degrees in 15 knots from the SE which is lifting everyone's spirits after yesterday's no movement, it feels like we have nearly made as much ground today as we did all day yesterday!
Anyhow, today’s lunch menu? You guessed it— our freshly caught Mahi Mahi!! Well, best get cooking this fish for lunch.... it’s “fish friday” in St Lucia today after all! Until next time. The “Children of El Ocaso” will continue on.” For more ARC Atlantic Rally sailing information and more on J/120 EL OCASO’s blog.