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.
Mia and Andy will be heading to St. Lucia on Sunday for the finish of the ARC. But the first boat's have already gotten there! Sailing the 3,000+ mile route from the Canaries to St. Lucia in just over 8 days, Leopard of Finland smashed the course record by more than 2 days. Here's the official story from St. Lucia.
Lee Cumberland, crew member aboard the catamaran 'Tandem II' in the 2014 Caribbean 1500 rally, write about what he's learned over the past year sailing on offshore deliveries. How to pack, where to sleep, how to act and what to do if you're new to the offshore sailing game. Lee sailed with Andy last spring on a few deliveries to and from New England.
So what goes on during the hectic week leading up to the start of a long offshore voyage? Lyall Burgess and Pete Burch have been focusing on completing the safety inspections as efficiently as possible for those boats that have arrived early. This got off to a great start on Saturday, with Lone Star, the veteran ARC Rally participant, having the honor of the first safety check to get completed on the first try. Photo shows the crews of Tom Tom and Oblivion at Skipjack Nautical Wares for last night's happy hour.
Another essay episode for your Friday! This one is a bit more serious than last week, and looks at some of the 'rules' of ocean sailing from the perspective of two events from last fall - the Caribbean 1500 rally, and the Salty Dawgs. You'll recall that six Salty Dawg boats issued distress calls last year, two of which were later rescued by the Coast Guard.
No rest for the weary. I went to bed last night at 7pm, knowing full well that we’d be up again at 2 the next morning to cover the early morning shift. That’s how it goes when we have boats coming in one after another and have to be there on the dock to greet that. No matter how tired you are though, it’s pretty invigorating greeting crews on the dock who have just completed an ocean passage.