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billyruffn 11-30-2012 12:18 PM

Follow the ARC
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has been underway for a couple of days. The route covers the 2800 nm from Canaries to Caribbean via the tradewind route. I'm following it because we may do the passage in 2014.

At the website you can follow the fleet ("fleet tracker" buttton) and read logs of participants. See ARC

I spent an hour or so this morning reading through the logs and found some very interesting. For those who have not made an ocean crossing, this reading might be educational as you'll get a sense for how crews are coping with various challenges -- gear failures, weather, sea sickness, etc.

The start was delayed this year by a low pressure system that produced strong winds coming up the rhumb line. After the start they had a few days of sub-gale force winds and big seas. It's a tough way to get the crew and boat settled into a routine, but it seems like most participants are doing well so far. My guess is that within a few days all boats will be well into the trades and the reading will mostly be about big fish caught and the resulting cuisine, and will produce much less interesting reading. :)

Have a look!

If you find something worth sharing -- post it on this thread and we can discuss / learn form it.

chef2sail 11-30-2012 02:24 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
The people in the slip next to us did the ARC 2010 in a Sundeer 62.

It completely changed them and was a great experience. I got to crew from the Panama to the Gallapagos. Interesting how they completed avaoided the Somalia area and how fierce the Angulas current was as well as the sea state going to South Africa.

MarkofSeaLife 11-30-2012 02:52 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
1 Attachment(s)
Interesting point brought up in the log by Northern Child. They have done a number of ARCs and is quite a large Swan. They are having a tough time in heavy seas and strong winds... Following winds and seas, though. The owner wonders what it's like to be on smaller boats and the non Swan /Oyster type boats.

Then he mentions that he is further north than the rest of the fleet who are in calmer, sunnier conditions. He has gone north to get stronger winds to sail faster.

So the Atlantic can be managed by very different size boats, or sailing methods... The further south the more trades winds, the further north the different weather patterns...

On my crossing in Nov 2010 the northern route was into 35 knot head winds and the southern route was very light winds. You could go the way your cruisng style wanted it to be.

Anyway, here's a video of my boat half way across the Atlantic.

turban10 11-30-2012 02:56 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
Its always interesting reading what types of boats are entered in the ARCs and other blue water rallies.

On this site, you will find page after page of people comparing one blue water boat to another and when the question of a mass-production boat comes into the fray, then the fecal matter starts to really hits the fan.

But looking at the entries, one sees a bunch of Beneteau Oceanises, Jeanneau Sun Odysseyies, and other production boats that don't get as much respect as the Amels and Valiants of this world.

So its pretty educational to see what people on sailing forums consider blue water boats, versus the actual type of boats that are sailed in blue water.

Bradhamlet 11-30-2012 03:32 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
Always thought it's the sailor in the boat not the boat he/she is on.
Lancer 36

turban10 11-30-2012 03:39 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
Amen to that!

billyruffn 12-01-2012 12:00 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
I'll attach a few quotes from this mornings ARC logs and add a few comments on each. I didn't have time to read them all, but the ones below offer a few lessons for those dreaming of crossing oceans. (Note: I haven't corrected typos in the log posts.) See World Cruising Club - ARC Logs.


Ailsa writes...."They say fire at sea is the worst nightmare well we had smoke in the engine compartment arising from the generator! No flames on this occasion although the fire control team were standing by. Scotty tried to rescue the situation by changing the impellor a pretty trick manoeuvre in a heavy sea but the culprit appears to be the generator coil itself??? Outwith the scope of the onboard expertise me thinks. Well we have two alternative supplies of charging the engine and the solar panels. The latter have had disappointing use to date but there is sun today so that will help."
From my experience in the USN, I can second the comment about "fire at sea". It's one of the best ways I know to ruin your day. This log post raises the question about the type of fire retarding canisters you use. For years I sailed with the powder type until a guy asked me if I'd ever seen the aftermath of using a powder extinguisher. I had not and he went on to tell me about what a mess it makes -- the powder is very fine and gets into everything -- electronics, engine intakes, food, clothes, bedding. Now imagine that you have to let go with one or more 5 # powder-filled bottles when you're mid-ocean and then have to live in the residue for a week or more. The thought of that caused me to invest the few extra bucks in the newer halon-type extinguishers that kill the fire and leave no mess behind. Just a thought for the next time you need to invest in one of the little red bottles.

Second thought that arises from this post is this -- why is it that a generator (or, for that matter, any other piece of vital gear) that has run perfectly for years and years decides to pack up three days into a passage when it's performance is critical to safety and comfort on the voyage? I have no answer for that other than "sh*t happens". For some reason gear fails on long passages that hasn't failed on all those coastal trips you've taken over the years. I guess the lesson here is that all critical systems need a very thorough going over before departure and, if something is getting near the end of its useful life, perhaps it's best to replace it before it breaks, especially if you're facing long passages like the ARC.


Baringo writes...."Fifth day at sea and our first belated blog. As by now well reported the start was not as in the brochure! It was cloudy, blustery, squally and as we headed out to sea a big swell developed. Not much has changed! We have been running downwind with wind speeds of about 25-30 knots and a large swell. The boat is rolling all over the place and difficult to keep anything in one place. We have broken our main genoa having inadvertently gybed it several times in strong winds so that the clew ring has nearly parted from the body of the sail. So we are using the smaller genny which is working surprisingly well giving us speeds of about 6 knots or more. But it would be nice to go faster in this wind but steering would be more difficult so perhaps we would be using the smaller sail in any case."
A couple of thoughts come to mind here. First, while there are many advantages to rallys like the ARC, one of the big disadvantages is that you need to depart with the fleet (of course, you don't have to, but the psychological pressure to do so is intense). Starting a long ocean passage in marginal weather, as they did with this years ARC, is not optimal because the crew has not had time to "shift gears" physically and emotionally from live on the hard. Going from a secure marina berth to 40 kts and 15 ft seas in 4-6 hours time is a rude way to adjust to life at sea. On a long passage like the ARC you will probably have some rough weather, but IMHO its better to have it after the boat and crew have settled into a passage routine.

Second thought -- for those who haven't yet experienced the joys of offshore sailing is the comment above about "rolling all over the place". It's true and it's generally no fun -- yes, you get used to it, but there is just no way to know the toll it will take on you and your crew until you've done it a few times. So, just for "fun" find some really windy, big sea days close to home to "practice" rolling around for 12-16 hours. It's an important part of getting ready for that idyllic sailing life you've dreamed about.

Finally, the log references issues with the sails and unintended gybes. Chances are that if you leave with old sails you may not arrive with them intact (unless they've been very well maintained over the years). Long ocean passages are 24/7 affairs. You will probably put more miles / hours on your sails in one ten day passage than you will in a season or more of coastal sailing. The ARC is a 20 day trip for most boats -- that equals 2-3 seasons of coastal sailing. In some instances the passage is harder on the sails as you will use them in conditions that would probably be avoided in summer coastal sailing.

And, re gybes -- they happen more than you'd think offshore where the seas are big, the boat is pushed around more than you're used to and where the helmsman is tired, or the autopilot isn't up to the sea conditions. There is NO reason not to have a preventer rigged on the main when the wind is more that 90 degrees apparent. You don't have to change course that often, so preventers MUST be part of the standard rig practice. Re gyping the genny, as mentioned in the post, you can't "prevent" it as you can with the main, but when conditions rise to the point where gypes are dangerous, perhaps it's best to run with something smaller than a poled-out 130% genoa.


Just Do it 5....."About 2pm the wind drops and 3/4 hour later we gibe to head more west. Nathan ends up on the wrong side of the sheet durng the gibe and he's lifted off the deck saving himself by hanging on to the stays."
So what's the lesson here? Communicate? Life can change in an instant? Be careful out there? From the sounds of it, the main sheet had some slack in it. The only gypes you want to do offshore are of the highly-controlled variety where the main sheet is bar tight before you move the helm to weather. And it he winds are really strong -- say 35 kts +, you can always do a long circular tack. It's safer in most circumstances (big, steep, short-interval seas being a possible exception).

capta 12-01-2012 12:00 PM

Re: Follow the ARC

Originally Posted by Bradhamlet (Post 955233)
Always thought it's the sailor in the boat not the boat he/she is on.
Lancer 36

I kinda think it's nice to have a boat that will get one through; "to err is human", is it not?
For instance; wouldn't you rather have a masthead rig and a back stay, if you were knocked down or capsized? Wouldn't it be nice to sustain no damage after being hit by a container in a gale at night? Wouldn't it be nice to have a skeg to protect the rudder if it hit something?

chef2sail 12-01-2012 12:10 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
Really good post Billy,

The sea state and the ability to deal with heavy seas of 10+ for long periods of time is taxing on many facets of the 20-22 days at sea. The human drain of staying secure and in vigilant position on the boat whetether topside or below is a huge energy expenditure whoch over a few days is draining. Hard to have any sembeance of a routine when this happens...especially when in the beginning you havent even settled into one. One thing I noticed on my passage of 22 days was the rountine you and you internal clock eventually get into.

As far as fire supression systems in the restuarant business all of my kitchens ar eequiped with the powder ansul type systems and the havoc it wreaks when they are used is unbeleiveable due to what you identified the fine nature of the powder. I gets in every crevace and inhaled is also a danger. They work great and are the best assurance to pit even the ost stubbron of fires out. Having a fire at seas....that tought is just chilling.


billyruffn 12-01-2012 12:34 PM

Re: Follow the ARC
Here's another great log post:


This seems amazing fun I think. We seem to be human pinballs most of the time, with scores rated on the amount of bruises we each have. First I would like to amend our breakage list. 1 reef pennant, 1 spinaker sheet, 1 spinnaker track car, 2 mainsail battens, 2 coffe cups, several toe nails. Most of the time we have winds of 25-30 knots and the atmosphere is more like a volvo ocean racer than blue water cruising. On the second night or was it the third, I was powering along on the helm and then decided to give the auto pilot a go. Big mistake, he coped well for half an hour then in a big gust and huge set of waves he broached. This is the closest we have come to a knock down but this was not the problem. As Jeeves (our autopilot) over corrected we spun around and over onto the other side. This thrust the spinnaker pole into the next wave, ouch. The track exploded launching the pole into space followed by lots banging as it was still attached by a sheet.

We have learned our lesson and have a much reduced sail plan at night now.
You can't make this stuff up!

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