Two hundred and twenty-three sailboats, flying the flags of 23 countries, with 1,204 people aboard, set sail from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands for St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean on November 24 to start the 28th Annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. The ARC, started by the irrepressible Jimmy Cornell, is the granddaddy of all cruising rallies and remains the most popular of all. The first boat across the line was the Gunboat 62 Zenyatta, the largest of 24 multihulls in this year’s fleet.
The fleet was blessed with light-to-moderate northeasterly trades, which are expected to hold for the next several days. Not all ARC starts have had such nice weather, although once the boats move down toward the Cape Verdes, the weather tends to improve. We did the ARC many years ago with our Ocean 71 Big O, and had one of finest and most pleasant sails of our life: warm weather and following breezes the entire 2,700 miles across the Atlantic.
Although the ARC is almost strictly a rally, the crossing record is 11d, 5h, 32m, 30s, which was set by Rinaldo Del Bono’s Italian maxi yacht Capricorno 2006. Several race boats are hoping to beat this — including Volvo 70 Monster Project, Nautor 78 Idea of London, TP52 Balearia and two Pogo 40s — given the right conditions. The average cruising boat takes 18 to 21 days, arriving in St. Lucia a couple of days before Christmas.
All ARC boats are fitted with Yellowbrick satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home. As well as position, the online Fleet Viewer displays heading, speed and boat information. Wind direction and speed is also shown.
Several readers have inquired if there is any way they can provide financial aid to Jack van Ommen who, as reported in the November 20 ‘Lectronic, recently lost his Nada 30 Fleetwood on Tago Mago, in Spain’s Balearic Islands, after three days of storms in the Med. We at Latitude, who also want to contribute money to this inspirational sailor who happily cruised to 50 countries in eight years on what’s beneath the poverty level for the United States, wrote Jack and asked about it. This was his reply on November 25.
"I have received a number of offers for financial assistance. I love you all for this. But as of this moment I still am doing okay. I have roughly $7,500 in my bank account, and this Wednesday I receive another monthly Social Security deposit of $1,856. I draw a rather high SS benefit because, in my good years, I always ended up paying the maximum premiums. When I went bankrupt in 2000, there were months that I had to make the landlady wait for her rent. And when I left from Santa Barbara in April 2005, I had all of $150 in my bank account. Because of the recent reconstruction of the boat deck, liferaft service, new EPIRB, sail and autopilot repairs, new Samsung tablet, the $450 tow back into port three weeks ago, etc., I drew down my savings. The main difference now is that I no longer have my own roof over my head. But I believe that with the help of friends and family, housesitting, and so on, I’ll be just fine.
"If I end up drawing down my savings to a more critical level, then I might put my bank details on my website for small voluntary donations for the entertainment/schadenfreude the site offers. If my friend, Julien in Frontignan, can come back from Florida to Europe with a boat he bought for $2,050, then I should be able to find something suitable in Florida or the Caribbean. I would need a new set of tools, and then I might be looking for a loan and have the boat insured with at least a resale value. But for right now I am concentrating on getting my feet back on solid ground. There is a possibility that I may have a spot aboard a friend’s boat to cross from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in early January. And that might be my opportunity to look for another boat. But another option is to still do my land travel along the Pacific Coast of South America. At any rate, I plan to be back in the Pacific Northwest in April for my daughter’s 50th birthday, my St. Nicholas church’s first centennial and my friend Roger’s 80th.
"I have a few more short story projects here, and I started to reconstitute my log from the 2005 departure. I need a good route map of the 50 countries I visited for the web site and for my upcoming book. My nephew Carl in Hamburg, who is a graphic artist, has promised to help me with this. My current spot here on the beach of St. Vicente is temporary, and if I cannot find a more permanent spot, I might try my luck elsewhere, possibly back to Holland for awhile.
"The responses by mail, and in the comments on my blog and Facebook page have been overwhelming, and Richard Spindler’s report in ‘Lectronic Latitude, which emphasized my belief that people can do so much with so little, had me shedding happy tears. I am trying to answer everyone. Thank you all."
Almost two years ago the 100-ft super maxi, Rambler, lost her entire canting keel while competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The frightening incident quickly sent the 21-crew members into the ocean where all were eventually rescued. Fast forward two years, the newly named Perpetual Loyal has quietly moved into Sydney Harbor’s Rose Bay after a complete and extensive retrofit by Sydney businessman, Anthony Bell. Bell hopes to win the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart race, which sets off on December 26.
Bell’s determination to win includes hiring some of the best crew, including Bay Area sailing guru Stan Honey and Oracle Team USA’s strategist and America’s Cup Winner Tom Slingsby. “This will be my first Rolex Sydney Hobart and my first major offshore ocean race," says Slingsby. "I’ve haven’t been sick on a yacht before — only once when I was on a fishing boat offshore — so I’m curious as to how I’ll fare."
“It’ll be a tough battle with Wild Oats XI," Bell says of the competition. "We’re up against the best super maxi racing team in the world — they’re like the Ferrari team of ocean racing. It would be remiss of me to not include those other super maxis in the fleet, including the boat we won (line honours) on in 2011, now racing as Ragamuffin 100."
You can follow the 96-boat race live online, and be sure to note the 22 international competitors as well, their largest number of entrants to date.
You’re probably already tired of hearing about Black Friday, but did you know that the day after that will be Small Business Saturday? Businesses don’t get a whole lot smaller than Latitude 38, and you can support this small business on Saturday or any other day by doing your holiday shopping in our online Chandlery. Not sure of a size? No worries — we have hats. Subscriptions to your favorite sailing rag make great gifts too, and can also be ordered online.
Our office will be closed Thursday-Sunday this week, so the next ‘Lectronic Latitude will appear on Monday. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving — and a Happy Hanukkah!