From frenzied preparations in Gran Canaria to jubilant arrivals in St Lucia, the candid crews of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers ARC 2019 share their adventures in this series of videos

Have you ever crossed the Atlantic? This month at PBO we’re focusing on Amazing Adventures. If you’re planning a passage, or just fancy a bit of armchair sailing, take a look at these heartwarming moments from last year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC).

The ARC sets sail from Gran Canaria to St Lucia every year and in 2019 it was the 30th anniversary of the event run by World Cruising Club. PBO went to the startline in November to wave off the 185 yachts as they set sail on their 2,700-mile voyage. Here’s their story in videos.

3 days to go – liferaft shenanigans!

The week before the rally is packed with inspections, boat repairs and seminars taking place on the water, in the yacht club and at other venues around Marina Las Palmas. Roger Seymour’s liferaft demonstration is definitely not to be missed! How many boisterous kids can you fit in that liferaft?

2 days to go – a peek inside the Youth Team Challenger yacht

We love having a peek inside other people’s boats. Whilst a 72ft racing yacht isn’t a typical ‘PBO boat’, this one was pretty special as it was crewed by 12 British, Spanish and St Lucian youths – all sailing together for the first time. Here, Chrisanki Flood shows us around the Challenger yacht, owned by the Ships Youth Trust, and explains that whilst his friends think he’s competing in a superyacht, he really isn’t! The accomodation is surprisingly spartan.

1 day to go – nervous crews and busy pontoons

“We’re feeling slightly apprehensive because we don’t know if we’ve got enough cabbages and enough onions,” confides Hermione Pattison of Alisara. With a day to go, crews’ worries range from cockpit speakers to rigging replacements and – for one young couple on a Moody 346 – how they’re going to cope double-handed, after their third crewmember had to go home.

And they’re off!

It’s always  fun saying goodbye to the yachts. There’s a band playing on the breakwater and a festival atmosphere as one-by-one the yachts leave the marina waving and cheering. Here’s Heaven 47 leaving her berth. She’s a Beneteau Oceanis 473  owned by Jersey couple Sam and Simon Warner, who’ve sold-up to sail round the world. Next stop the Caribbean!

Here’s Ulisse, the largest yacht in the fleet at 105ft. Crewed by America’s Cup veterans, this luxury superyacht is owned by Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli. It just goes to show that entries for the ARC come in all shapes and sizes.

On the startline in Las Palmas there’s a northeasterly breeze of around 10-12 knots, just as meteorologist Chris Tibbs predicted. It’s a classic ARC start, with many yachts flying  spinnakers.

Arrivals in St Lucia

Two weeks later and we’re in St Lucia… Scarlet Oyster wins the racing division and we’re thrilled to bump into the crew in Marigot Bay. Listen to what Fleming has to say – even formidable race yachts are entitled to the odd mid-Atlantic mishap!

After the first few arrivals in Rodney Bay, the yachts come in thick and fast keeping the World Cruising Club ‘yellow shirts’ on their toes. Here the unflappable Claire Pengelly waits to take the lines of Norwegian yacht Terne.


If crossing the Atlantic’s not hard enough, try doing it double-handed like French yacht, Neema II. Here’s the 43ft Jeanneau arriving in style.

And here’s Moody 346, Little Island, arriving to a huge round of applause. “Did you have a good voyage?” asks someone in the crowd. “Yeah it was great… well, no,” replies an exhausted Cat. “The last 5 to 10 days I hated it. Not hated it, but I thought it was going so slowly…”

But after a good night’s rest (and a few celebratory drinks) newly weds Cat and Martin explain that they loved the voyage and it made their relationship stronger. They wouldn’t have done it any other way.

For the 81-year-old skipper of Simane, however, the additional crewmembers he found in Gran Canaria were well worth the gamble! They were vegans, he’s a meat-eater, but it didn’t matter; they got on brilliantly recalls Katja Schmidt-Maag.

There were also big smiles on the faces of the ARC Youth Team on Challenger 1. Living in such close quarters isn’t easy – especially if you’ve only just met and you don’t speak the same language. However, Michele and Gabie have some good tips for staying sane!

Top tips from ARC kids

But perhaps the biggest stars of the voyage were the ARC kids. Here Alice Pattison shows off her essential piece of transatlantic kit that she managed to sneak in the lazarette on Alisara.

Whilst for Hugo and Felix on Kathryn del Fuego, feeding flying fish to dolphins proved to be one of the highlights of the voyage!

Everyone’s got a story to tell. Is it time to plan your next adventure?