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Old 20-01-2014, 05:46   #1
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ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

There is just a glimmer of a chance that I might be able to take just a bit of time off next year, which would allow me to sail to the Caribbean in December and bring the boat back to the UK the following summer.

I'm sure there will be big differences of opinion about this -- what do you folks think about participation in the ARC? Is it fun and useful? Or is it a waste of time and useless regimentation of the process?

I know that for a lot of people embarking on their first ocean crossing, the hand-holding is invaluable. Although this would be also my own first big ocean crossing, I think I could live without the hand-holding. I would also not be afraid to be in the middle of the ocean alone (on the contrary, out of sight of land is where I enter a special state of bliss). On the other hand, the parties do sound kind of like fun, and some elements of the support might be worthwhile.

What do you folks think, particularly those who have actually done it?
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Old 20-01-2014, 06:16   #2
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

Not done it - seems to me that the big decider (apart from the cost) is the social side......if that suits then great, if not then a PITA.

At the risk of stating the obvious (for others reading!) - whether in the ARC or not, in the middle of the ocean you will be on your own! Indeed, in sight of land and if things go Pete Tong will likely find that also on yer todd!
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Old 20-01-2014, 06:24   #3
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

we did not do an arc because we want to pick our own weather window -- if it is earlier than the arc we go -- if it is several weeks later we wait -- parties are not worth that much to us - and in the atlantic crossing the arc was ahead of us and did not spend long in the azores - i think they were there for a short period of time - while we wanted to see more and we sailed on our schedule and had such a great time in the azores as we ran across a week long festival so we stayed for it --

but more than anything is the weather
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Old 20-01-2014, 07:02   #4
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Well... I always derided the ARC.. however when I delivered Wendi's Lagoon last year I arrived just as the 'Getting to know each other' parties were starting..
I had pre-conceptions of over organising, group hugz and mothering but once you'd passed the required inspections you were left pretty much on your own to do your own thing..
I attended a couple of the parties.. great fun (I like to get silly once in a while and having done 2 deliveries back to back was ready to let my hair down)... did not enjoy the 'Sundowners'.. to stiff and techy.. did enjoy meeting a group on a 'Pontoon Barbie' one of the cats behind us threw.. lovely German couple with a real cute little boy.. generally the folk I met were nice people..
Would I enter one.. no.. don't think so.. but my perspective has changed...
Dockhead.. consider the ARC+... that goes 2 weeks earlier via Cape Verde...
Rod.. the owner of the Lagoon I delivered just before Wendi's took that route and crossed in 15days.. no gales.. as opposed to Wendi's 23 with blows..
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Old 20-01-2014, 07:25   #5
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

My friend, who did it several years ago, told me that it was good to him, because it is an element of fun regatta included:
"You know me, I'm lazy guy. Need something to motivate me to tweak sails a little".
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Old 20-01-2014, 08:26   #6
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

I did half a world ARC about 14 years ago, and it was great fun.
Whatever those ARC's are, they are not "lame".
They may not be to ever yachtsmans fancy, but even to those the ARC is not lame. The best facilities, the best weather information, the best admin, the best parties.

Lame is bad weather info, bad communications, bad organisation, bad facilities all at a rip-off price. The ARC is not like that, though it may be more than some folks are willing to pay.


Phil is right theres no "group hugz" and other wank.
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Old 20-01-2014, 09:12   #7
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Well... I always derided the ARC.. however when I delivered Wendi's Lagoon last year I arrived just as the 'Getting to know each other' parties were starting..
I had pre-conceptions of over organising, group hugz and mothering but once you'd passed the required inspections you were left pretty much on your own to do your own thing..
I attended a couple of the parties.. great fun (I like to get silly once in a while and having done 2 deliveries back to back was ready to let my hair down)... did not enjoy the 'Sundowners'.. to stiff and techy.. did enjoy meeting a group on a 'Pontoon Barbie' one of the cats behind us threw.. lovely German couple with a real cute little boy.. generally the folk I met were nice people..
Would I enter one.. no.. don't think so.. but my perspective has changed...
Dockhead.. consider the ARC+... that goes 2 weeks earlier via Cape Verde...
Rod.. the owner of the Lagoon I delivered just before Wendi's took that route and crossed in 15days.. no gales.. as opposed to Wendi's 23 with blows..
Your story reminds me of how I once felt about in-mast furling...I finally saw a Hood system in action with an electric winch (another pet peeve) during a blustery offshore Atlantic delivery and despite my continuing reservations and prejudices...I could see how it would enable a cruising couple to go further and react more quickly to something like a line squall.

Whether that's a good trade for poor sail shape and the possibility of a bad jam at the worst moment, I leave to others to evaluate. But it's analogous to the ARC in that those of us who don't fancy the idea of travelling in a herd can perhaps be swayed to see the other side of the coin.
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Old 20-01-2014, 09:26   #8
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

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the idea of travelling in a herd can perhaps be swayed to see the other side of the coin.
More so if you eradicate BS analogies from you mind.

'Lame', 'herd', 'pet peve' do little to add inteligence to a thought process.
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Old 20-01-2014, 09:30   #9
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

I did the Caribbean 1500 on my first long ocean passage as skipper (had already been to Bermuda as crew) and I liked it. Among the good thing were the inspection by an experienced sailor who had some good suggestions for us and excellent weather info at the start and through the passage. The seminars and parties were OK though I made more friends in random anchorages in the islands than I did in the rally. Would I do it again? Probably not, for two reasons

1. I can get weather info on my own (in fact would not go without it). I am now way more confident in my own ability to pick weather windows. Weather routing is cheap for what you get and I believe in stacking the deck in my own favor as much as possible.

2. Check out the fleet tracker on the ARC. I watched it last year as they went across and there were numerous days when there were many many boats within a few miles of each other. That is a bad thing, not for any metaphysical wish to be alone with nature, but because there is a real danger of bashing into each other at night.

This wasnt an issue on the Caribbean 1500 which had few enough boats that we never saw another sail after Hatteras until we were in the home stretch to the BVI's a couple of days out. But the ARC has 200 plus boats and they really were rather close to each other. To some that might be an advantage but to me that would be nerve racking. I had my own running lights short out on that first long passage and can imagine it happening to others or they might simply forget to put them on or I might get sleepy, or whatever. I would rather be alone - it is safer.

Somebody above suggested the ARC plus with a stop in Cape Verde. That make sense to me if you are going on a rally - Fewer boats but with the same admin support and a shorter passage across starting well into the trade wind zone.

There you go - A free opinion!

The radio nets might give an illusion of safety but that is all it is - Any boat in a rally or not would respond to a distress call so I dont really see the advantage of that.
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Old 20-01-2014, 11:23   #10
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

We did the ARC this year (2013) and thought it was very enjoyable and fun.

We didn't need to do the ARC since this was the last leg of our circumnavigation, back to the Caribbean where we started, but thought we would join it.

What we liked were the seminars, safety inspection, making lots of new friends and the parties of course. Also having a guaranteed berth at the beginning and end in St. Lucia were a BIG plus for us. You simply cannot get a berth in either place unless you are with the ARC because of space limitations.

Safety at sea is why we also joined - there are many other boats around to lend assistance and a very good SSB net to coordinate any problems.

The safety inspection is very rigorous and quite a few of the big boats did not pass the first go-around. Every boat had to correct deficiencies before they were allowed to proceed with the ARC so you knew every boat had the necessary safety equipment onboard should the need arise.

We also thought the timing for the start was ok. It is not advisable to leave earlier because of the chance of a late season hurricane. Leaving later you risk the Christmas winds that kick in resulting in worse weather. That said, our winds of 25-30 sustained for nearly 2 weeks were way above normal but they were not predicted prior or in the week after the start. It is just a roll of the dice because the passage is so long.

Even though the Fleet Tracker showed boats near each other this just doesn't happen after the first day. People would tell us there was a boat near us and we would never see them so there is very little chance of running into anyone out at sea.

The reception in St. Lucia is also fantastic with discounts offered at the marina, restaurants and chandleries. There are also seminars to describe the places to visit in the Caribbean given by Chris Doyle and other experts.

All said, I believe the ARC is worth the money and we thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it.

I hope this helps answer your questions.
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Old 20-01-2014, 11:36   #11
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

We're boat nerds.... Lame AND Fun are synonymous .....
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Old 20-01-2014, 11:45   #12
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Re: ARC -- Fun? Or Lame?

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More so if you eradicate BS analogies from you mind.

'Lame', 'herd', 'pet peve' do little to add inteligence to a thought process.
My, my, Mark - are we getting a bit crusty in our old age (or am I miss-reading your post perhaps)?

Hey ho - chill out and open a beer. As for me, I'm safely back home in BVI after a Force 10 delivery to Mexico. Had to ask the Good Lord to quieten things down for me after a couple of days' worth of 50 kt winds!! Tony
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