Across the Pond

Preparations must be made for a transatlantic voyage.

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On November 25, 1986, a starting cannon fired from a Spanish Navy frigate signaled 204 boats from 24 nations to set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The group, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), was organized by world-class sailor and author Jimmy Cornell, and would earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest trans-ocean race ever staged. Twenty-three years later, the ARC race, now run by the World Cruising Club, still brings over 200 vessels to the docks of Las Palmas every November, and it is still one of the largest trans-ocean races in the world.

Originally designed as a friendly rally for sailors of all skill levels to cruise together at the end of the Mediterranean season, it soon became apparent that there was friendly competition developing amongst the crews and in 1989, the Racing Division, which operates under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club, was established.

When the cannon is fired this year, on November 22, 2009, I will be aboard one of 223 yachts, from a record 32 nations, in the 24th running of the ARC. Though I've been around boats for most of my life, and on sailboats since before I could walk, I've never been more then 30 or so miles offshore, and I've certainly never been across an ocean. I'm not quite sure what to expect, so if you have any experience with this, let me know. What should I look for on a transatlantic trip? What are some of the essential items I should bring? If you have any advice, a transatlantic tale of your own, or anything else you think I should know before I head off across the Atlantic, please, let me know. Drop me an email at editor@yachtingmagazine.com and let me know what you have to say.