Thinking about an ocean passage? PBO’s Laura Hodgetts shares some tips from sailors setting sail with the 30th ARC

30th anniversary ARC

ARC 2015 fleet depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

ARC 2015 fleet depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Thirty years ago, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers launched in response to an increasing number of yachts setting sail from the Canary Islands, bound for the Caribbean. The route’s north-easterly trade winds stabilise in the winter months, running from south of the Canaries to just north of the
Equator and helping even the slowest boat to complete the crossing.

The development of the Transit satellite navigation system, also known as NAVSAT or NNSS (Navy Navigation Satellite System), boosted numbers in the 1980s by enabling cruisers to make the 2,700NM crossing without astronavigation. Today, GPS fulfils the same function.

PBO’s sister title Yachting World was instrumental in the inaugural 1985 event, which was inspired by YW contributor Jimmy Cornell visiting Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to conduct a survey of yachts leaving to go transatlantic.

The inaugural ARC quadrupled expectations by attracting 204 starters, and the event, now run by the World Cruising Club (WCC), has continued to grow.

After sailing to Barbados for the first four years, the rally re-routed to the larger marina at Rodney Bay, St Lucia. It takes an average of 18-21 days to make the crossing and, upon arrival, all ARC boats are met with a fruit basket and rum punch.

Former Yachting World editor Dick Johnson

Former Yachting World editor Dick Johnson

Former Yachting World editor Dick Johnson says the past three decades have seen great changes in communication systems: ‘You only have to look at how the boats can upload photographs to websites while at sea. Gone are the days when the majority of the fleet were VHF only boats: most are now fitted with satellite communications.’

ARC and ARC Plus Route Map

A record number of 254 yachts and more than 1,200 sailors registered for the 2015 ARC and for ARC+, which included a stopover at Mindelo, on São Vicente in Cape Verde.


  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Provisioning tips
  3. 3. Top tips from Jerry the rigger
  4. 4. Las Palmas and the ARC
  5. 5. 30th anniversary ARC
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