Having completed the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers two times - once as crew and then five years later in my own yacht 'Tere Moana' - I can thoroughly recommend it as the most wonderful way to set sail on your 'Adventure of a Lifetime', sailing off over the horizon to sail and explore the many oceans of this beautiful planet of ours.
The ARC gives a great insight into planning for an extended voyage, plotting your course, provisioning, navigating, safety at sea and much much more. There are many seminars that you can attend plus practical courses as well. Plus there is the additional benefit of meeting so many other like minded folks at these sessions - not to mention the social functions! - many of whom will become lifetime friends.
It is a mighty experience, the memories from it being cherished forever.
This year there will be approximately 240 vessels sailing from the start line in Las Palmas in November, to the finish in St.Lucia sometime before Christmas. It is fully booked for this year, but 2012 could be your year?
The following extract tracks the preparation of a group of Welsh sailors in their preparation:
'Every year for over 20 years, enthusiastic sailors have ventured from all parts of the globe to join the ARC, or Atlantic Rally for cruisers. Some of these come back year after year, but many others are starting on one of the greatest sailing adventures of their lives so far, crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This is the case for five hardy Welshmen, who are determined to cross this year in the great rally.
Their adventure which will take them from South West Wales to Portugal and then on to Gran Canaria for the start of the rally on 20th November, heading for the Caribbean.
The intrepid sailors, skippered by Ian Williams, left Swansea Marina yesterday aboard the Arabella, a 39ft Bavaria yacht.
Some 240 boats from around the world will be taking part in the event — but the Arabella is though to be the only Welsh craft involved.
The fearless five have spent the past 15 months preparing for the rally and getting their floating home in ship-shape condition.
The first stage is to get the Arabella to Lagos near Faro in Portugal, then later in the summer it will be sailed down to Gran Canaria ready for the starting flag in November'.
More about the ARC:
This annual transatlantic rally starting each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, has now become a very popular way to cross the Atlantic, particularly for first-timers. The largest transocean sailing event in the world, every year the ARC brings together over 200 yachts from all over the world.
The Caribbean destination is Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, one of the most beautiful islands in the Lesser Antilles. The 2700 nautical mile passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.
Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio.
Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants. The presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience.
The ARC has a special flavour, which successfully combines racers with cruisers, old with young, and provides entertainment for all. A wide ranging programme of entertainment takes place both before the start and after the finish. The ARC enjoys the support of the Tourist Authority of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas, Rol Nautic and the Saint Lucia Board of Tourism.