Family boats. Fathers & sons. Friends. Folks out for a weeklong summer adventure, and those looking to go further afield. Lots of people join ARC DelMarVa and for lots of different reasons. Here’s a few of the 2016 fleet’s stories.
It was a nighttime mission for the ARC DelMarVa fleet leaving the dock this morning. Just before the dawn, 22 boats of the 24 boat fleet fired up their diesels and prepared to cast off the dock lines to head out on this, the most exciting leg of the ARC DelMarVa. As of 0830 Wednesday morning, the fleet is strung-out at the mouth of the Chesapeake, poised to head through the Bay Bridge-Tunnel and out into the Atlantic. Scarecrow made their arrival into Cape May early today after having departed on Tuesday from Portsmouth, while Ginny opted to cruise back up the Chesapeake and will rejoin the fleet at Saturday’s prize giving in Annapolis.
From my perspective as organizer, making a decision that would be best for the fleet as a whole, I primarily was concerned about two things:
- The potential for the development of strong to severe thunderstorms as the front passed (and at night, to boot).
- The fact that once offshore, it would be very difficult to return against a 20-knot headwind if any of the fleet had problems.
So let’s look at both of those factors in detail, and examine in general what this forecast means for the actual conditions offshore.
WRI concluded that “based on the forecast, the best window for vessels to depart will be to leave in the early morning hours, near 0300-0400 EDT on the 22nd. This will allow for the best timing between fronts, and to arrive in Cape May on the 23rd before the next front. It will be important for vessels to motor (if needed) to maintain speed in order to arrive in Cape May by midday or so on the 23rd, as the next front with more showers/squalls moves through in the evening.”
The starting gun fired at exactly 10:00 Eastern Time Sunday morning, the eve of the Summer Solstice, and 19 rally yachts took the start of ARC DelMarVa 2016. With light westerly winds, it was a mellow and easy start for the fleet of boats, many of whom had never sailed overnight before. Slice of Life, a Beneteau 45, was officially first over the starting line, with Su Ching, the big Tayana 55 - the largest boat in the fleet - over a few seconds early.