Originally Posted by The Miss
We are planning to cross the Atlantic from the Med at the end of this year and need some advice. Can we do it on our own at the same time or should we pay the money to join Odyssey or Arc. Are there other alternatives I don't know about?
Being new to a long passage crossing and having no idea about the start and finish with marinas are we better off to just pay the $3000 AU and go with a group. My issue is that is a hell of a lot of dollars when I know thousands of people and boat cross every year or am I being naive. We are trying to get two crew organised to share the passage with us as well.
Would love to hear how others have done it and what's the best way to go. Part of our consideration is we are very flexible with our departure date so want the best safest but economical way if possible.
The ARC is full this year. It's full every year by Easter. There's no problem AT ALL about being a "Narc" (= not ARC). You just follow along. 200+ boats go in various classes
... essentially they all go on the third sunday in November. It's full cos they can't make it any bigger - they're limited by how many spaces they can carve out of the marinas at Las Palmas
and St Lucia
The ARC makes sense for first timers cos it kinda feels "safer" if there's others within range or just over the horizon. And i suppose that sorta must be true ultimately. Although there again, it might be an idea to go a few hours or so later so they don't run you down.
The ARC make sense for repeat/expert transat sailors because it starts from Las Palmas and without having that ARC entry.... you can't stay much if at all during the run-up season from August to late November. And remember - the smart money sez that you get to the Canaries
in August ... and stay there till you leave. You DON"T try thrash down there in late Autumn cos it's potetntially worse weather or sometimes MUCH worse weather. And ... Las Palmas marina is so cheap
(council, summink) that it's cheaper to pay arc fees
and stay in LP ...than to stay in almost any other marina in the Canaries.
Plus of course, there's lots of transat types, adventure central - perhaps nowhere else on the planet are so many long-distance boats gathered together in this colourful, exciting and oftn scared-as hell kind of way.
The seminars: You'd have though that after 25+ years of organising transat trip, they'd know loads and LOADS of stuff about doing transats. But meh, not so, not really. There's been precious little collection and collation of data of the style that even in quite small qtys allowed Cornell to produce World Cruising Routes. Since ownership
passed from Cornell, (and probablt befoee then...) the 15 or so seminars on downwind sailing tactics, on navigation
, on 2-handed sailing, on provisioning
, and other useful subjects ... are all produced amd planned by the individuals tasked with the subject from year to year. The resulting IP isn't owned by the ARC at all. And their info is hazy and badly-collevted. You'd have thought that they'd have loads of super-valuable info at their fingertips, but no, not really. It's not as a co-operative friendly group. building on the knowledge base each year. It's run as a race
, some clases explicitly racing
, and others well, they're racing classes
too! Imagine going on a jolly rally and then being told you were 198th overall. But we weren't racing. Oh that's fine, but you're still 198th overall. Some others get DQL cos they crossed the startline wrong,. Jeez.
But anyways, each year in LP is fun and frantic chaos. There's the parties and have you got tickets? well who's got the tickets? We gave them all out with the entry pack didn't we? Not for this party. Each "party" mostly involves manky red wine and plastic cups. And there's late arrivals, each boat has to be "inspected" and "passed" before being allowed (?) to leave (although i suppose you could just oh what the heck - we'l follow anyway) and rushing about buying
last minute stuff.
So, eventually, a brass band turns up, everyone argh rushes out of the marina 2 hours early, off to St Lucia. The second day you see no other boats all the way across. Ok, perhaps one or two, until arrival. If there's a problem, you can email
via Satphone top the organisers. Although I did this with a medical
query and they din't answer at all. Bit useless - loads better having a shoreside pal.
And then you arrive in St Lucia to find that the winner was here several days ago,or even a couple of weeks ago, and they all left, cos it was a huge boat 80 or 90 feet, 2nd was similar, they all left as well in fact the boat has another charter
already. Oh. And several other large boats, also not there cos they too dumped all the transat guests on the day of arrival thankee very much for the $5000 each and we're off to Antigua
IN the marina at St Lucia, you will very likely get robbed. This is possibly because all the local boys not at work
are thieves, and all the girls are prostitutes and perhaps thieves as well. Handbags, phones, computers
all get stolen. Moe than once, a security
guard asked me for money to keep an eye on the boat.
Prizegiving is 4weeks after departure so anyone who took over 28days due to well, yerknow, something going wrong and them needing real assistance well tsk, bit late, sorry. Only a third or fewer entrants hang about for prize giving. The main guy of the ARC who does the speeches is very dull to listen to, but he trudges through his dull speeches for many hours, every year...