250 Boats Facing The Same Direction

November 26, 2006 - Just off the coast of the Canary Islands

I arrived back in the Canary Islands two days ago. In the marina, all ships participating in the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, had assembled. 223 ships from different nationalities. From 27 feet (9 meters) to 100 feet (over 30 meters) monsters. From homemade boats to big luxurious one-off designs. From competition racing boats with little luxury to standard cruising yachts like ours. The ARC is an annual event trying to assemble yachts at the ideal time of the year to sail across the Atlantic. The purpose is to get everyone safely to 'the other end', in a competitive way. The people participating are from all kinds of walks of life. Some are professional skippers taking their charter ship over to the Caribbean for the season (like us), with a random crew often consisting of people who never crossed the Atlantic before. Some are competition boats with a well trained racing crew on board. Some are families, many of them from Europe where the ARC is their first trans-ocean crossing of a multi-year world cruise, often with kids on board. There was a pleasant and hectic atmosphere on all the docks as all ships were readied for the crossing. Everyone was busy stocking food, fuel, water, and making last minute repairs or changes to their ship.

This morning, one by one the yachts left the marina, cheered by thousands of people who stood on the cays, docks and breakwaters or ferried in small boats around us. Helicopters above, filming, and brass bands playing on the docks. Together with the 223 ARC participating yachts, there would be about 250 'ghost riders', yachts which would cross the Atlantic at the same time as us, but did not participate in the ARC. We all gathered just outside of the port, zigzagging while raising sails, trying to get a good position near the one km long starting line. Once the start signal was given, up went all the big spinnakers (the huge colourful sails which are used to sail down- wind). The start was one of the most memorable pictures I will never forget... Over 200 boats starting a race at the same time. And not only a race, a transatlantic crossing but also starting an adventure, chasing dreams. Even though we will often sail hundreds of miles apart from the other boats, we are still connected to one another, because of our common goal, our common dreams, our common interests, all to do with adventure, water, sailing and being addicted to the horizon.. It was an absolute fabulous sight, hundreds of boats and sails, and thousands of crew working on them.. All heading into the same direction: St.Lucia in the Caribbean.

Wish us luck and fair winds!

Picture 2 courtesy of Thomas Mallet

Start of the ARC 2006. Video courtesy of T.Mallet
Click (twice) on the video to play it.

Start of the ARC2006
Click (twice) on the video to play it.

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you can choose my name 09 June, 2007 17:25  

how do i add my blog to my youtube account because last time i tried it said there was an error

Peter 10 June, 2007 16:06  


Strange, I have it on my Youtube account, but don't seem to be able to change it...


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