ATLANTIC RALLY FOR CRUISERS
If a round-the-world excursion sounds like fun, but the racing sounds a bit too gnarly, consider joining the World Cruising Club’s (WCC) Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). Each year, approximately 300 boats carrying 1,500 sailors “race” from the Canary Islands across the Atlantic to St. Lucia in the Caribbean. Because these are primarily cruisers sailing their own boats, the pace is less hectic. Once in St. Lucia, participants either head home or sail on as part of the World ARC, which continues, in stages, the rest of the way around the globe: sailing as a group down to Colombia, through the Panama Canal to the South Pacific and Australia. A recently introduced “half rally,” also allows boats to leave the group in Australia and take a year off to cruise New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and other idyllic islands on their own. They can then rejoin the following year’s rally to complete the circumnavigation.
The WCC doesn’t sell crewing opportunities, but it does offer a website that puts prospective crew in contact with boat owners. For a fee of $10 for three months, crew members sign up, create a profile and then receive updates via e-mail on new opportunities. Last year more than 100 crew found a place on the ARC via that site. Expenses and expectations are always an agreement between the crew and the boat owner. Another way to do this on a pay-to-play basis is via charter boats with a professional skipper. Many of these boats are perennial ARC participants, offering opportunities to learn along the way.
The WCC has a dozen rallies all around the world, so you don’t need to drop out of your life for a long time, but rather can choose from one of the organization’s various European, Pacific or Caribbean rallies, which are shorter and less of a commitment. World Cruising Club, worldcruising.com
No boat? No problem. You too can experience the thrill of an Atlantic crossing. Below: the fleet dressed up before the start