Sunday, 27 September 2009

100 Days + a Few Hours to World ARC Rally 2010/2011

We're counting down the days with a sense of excitement and a healthy dose of trepidation.

In 100 days and a few hours the crew of Bristol Rose will embark upon our most challenging and exotic journey. Robert and I, our sons Owen and Elliot, and Robert's brother Rex, will leave Rodney Bay in St. Lucia for the voyage of a lifetime, through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific Ocean, to the sunny shores of Australia.

I said I'd never do it; cross the Pacific in a sailboat. Fourteen hours in a plane high above the ocean, crossing from Los Angeles to Sydney is challenging enough. It's hard to explain "why the change of heart?"
Unlike so many we've met, neither Robert nor I have dreamed for many years of sailing the high seas. We don't have years of racing behind us, not even a lot of sailing compared to others. When we purchased Sandpiper to sail the Chesapeake Bay we were relative newbies to sailing. We'll always consider ourselves newbies; the sea is a teacher always ready with a new lesson. There will always be more experienced sailors and for their counsel we are grateful.
Our sailing plan might have something to do with the lure of exotic, far flung places that few will ever have a chance to see. It has more than a lot to do with the willingness to step outside one's comfort zone with an urge to broaden horizons. The opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than oneself is attractive. So, here goes.

Who doesn't love the idea of encountering inviting islanders on palm lined beaches. We are hoping the San Blas islands will fit that bill. Trading new fabrics and assorted goodies for their amazing molas could be fun. Galen Frysinger has some great images - click on the link to his website over on the right hand side of this page under "Personal Favorites" or go straight to mola art here.

The 77 km, 48 mile Panama Canal allows us to cross from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. According to Wikipedia, a cargo ship can complete the passage in 8 to 10 hours. Transiting the Canal is no doubt a highlight, although it will present quite a challenge. There are a number of locks to pass through, a testing current, as well as the company of supertankers.

Anyone who spent Sunday evenings in their youth watching Wild Kingdom or David Attenborough nature programs would jump at the chance to see the Galapagos Islands. It's not possible to sail freely through the islands these days. Visitors must pay the park fee (about $100 US per person), and travel is somewhat restricted. The ARC has organized tours and we're especially looking forward to our time there.

The Marquesas, Tahiti and Bora Bora sound like some of the most amazing locations on earth. Besides blue water, palm trees and white sand, I'm keeping my mind open to the experience.

While we are busy in Trinidad with routine maintenance for Bristol Rose, we're acquiring charts and guide books and continue to update our safety gear to comply with the World ARC safety requirements. Our committment is to sail the "half rally" with the World ARC, from St. Lucia to Australia. A major benefit of participating in the ARC is the cruising company of 38 other boats. They vary from a 76' Swan, Wild Tigris, to a 40' Hallberg Rassey, Eowyn. See the entry list here.

The cost of participating in the ARC will cover customs and immigration in each country, include three days slip fees at each rendezvous point, social gatherings, constant position monitoring and a rather unique experience, to say the least.

No doubt we will have little chance of keeping up the pace with the larger, faster vessels on each leg but the organizers take that into account with a range of dates during which all participants are expected to arrive at each rendezvous point. The rally boats should create quite a spectacle as they depart together for each of the 17 legs. Look for us if you are in St. Lucia for the start on January 6, 2010, or anywhere else along the way!

Panama Canal at Wikipedia. For more about the World ARC click here or click on the link to the ARC in the right hand column under "Resources for Cruisers".
We'll work hard to keep our blog current and informative. We like to think that you'll be traveling with us through our blog so jump in and leave comments. To send us an email, click on the envelope at the bottom of the page. It's always great to hear from you!


  1. Needless to say - I'm jealous! Can't wait until we can follow in your wake!

  2. Give me a call when you are in town.

    Would love to take you out for a drink or lunch or both.


  3. Pat and Geoff Craigen28 September 2009 at 06:13

    The photos in this latest entry are wonderful. And this next 100 days will fly by. Hope we cross paths as you head back up island. Keep us posted.
    Pat and Geoff

  4. The Galapagos Islands are the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.