Sail across the Atlantic and beyond. Here are some top tips from World Cruising Club, the organiser of the ARC

If you don’t own a boat but want to sail around the world, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), which leaves annually from Gran Canaria for the Caribbean, is a great place to start.

Gran Canaria’s boat-hiking season runs from November to February when the trade winds settle, allowing a comfortable downwind passage. Hosted by the World Cruising Club, the ARC sets sail from Las Palmas twice in November and again in January, with more than 500 yachts. Other skippers set sail independently, and some are looking for crew.

Busy Las Palmas marina at the start of the ARC rally

World Cruising Club communications manager Rachel Hibberd warns that most boats are fully crewed by the time they reach Las Palmas, but every year she still sees lucky backpackers find a boat and have an amazing adventure. 

“There are always little disputes in the crew or maybe skippers looking for help with the children or cooking,” she says. “If you turn up at Las Palmas, looking for a boat, look smart and presentable and understand what skippers are looking for; not just sailing skills but an ability to work with other people, to fit in, a relaxed attitude, and a willingness to do hard work. There will be cooking and cleaning as well as mending things.”

Rachel Hibberd of World Cruising Club has top tips for those looking to crew on the ARC

Rachel points out that when you get to the Caribbean – be it St Lucia or Grenada – you’ll need a plane ticket out. There are practicalities to consider but usually skippers will help with paperwork. 

The World Cruising Club has its own crew-finding website,, where you can register free and advertise yourself as crew looking for a skipper. Skippers will also advertise for crew, explaining what they’re looking for – not just for Atlantic crossings, but amazing voyages all over the world. 

Driving the ARC minibus is a great way to meet skippers

“It’s also worth going to say hello on the ARC platform at Las Palmas Marina,” says Rachel. “We’re always on the lookout for a driver for our minibus, which runs around the marina helping our participants to get from one side to the other of this huge location. The bus driver is in the perfect situation to have a chat with skippers and potential people looking for crewmates.”

Look out for the Summer 2024 Issue of PBO, out on 06 June, to find out what it’s like doing the ARC with strangers, as well as 30 ways you can sail without owning a boat!