Over 70 ARC+ yachts celebrate their transatlantic crossing, whilst one is diverted to Antigua after a medical emergency.
Alika, the largest yacht in the fleet, experienced sudden loss of steering on 21 November, throwing two crew off balance, one of whom suffered concussion and the other a serious compound ankle fracture.
The Oyster 675, which was on the second leg of the ARC+ rally, from Cape Verde to Grenada, issued a PAN PAN via VHF.
Nearby yachts Alexandra and One Piece diverted course to stand by whilst MRCC Ponta Delgada in the Azores took control of the incident. They conducted a medical assessment via medics in Portsmouth, UK, and requested evacuation of the patients.
Too rough for rescue
That evening, 73m motoryacht Planet Nine reached the vicinity of Alika, but with 25-knot winds and 3m swells, evacuation was deemed unsafe. Both vessels diverted course for a calmer passage towards Antigua, where – five days later – the crewmember with the ankle injury and two others transferred to the luxury charter yacht. The crewmember was then airlifted to hospital in Martinique where she underwent an operation before being repatriated with the UK.
The second casualty remained onboard Alika until the boat safely arrived in Antigua on 01 December, whilst the rest of the ARC+ fleet continued to Grenada.
Second time lucky
Chris Greenwood onboard ARC+ yacht Malö 42 Sea Candy, was one of the yachts who heard the incident unfold over the radio. “It was quite sobering hearing that,” he said. “Afterwards, we were all a bit more cautious.”
Chris, together with wife Mary, brother Peter and friends Rob and Leona, arrived in Grenada after sunset on Friday 2 December.
The finish was a momentous occasion for Leona, who had been shipwrecked 20 years earlier on a transatlantic passage and had to be rescued 200 miles off the Azores.
“I was worried the crossing might bring back traumatic memories, but in reality it didn’t,” Leona told PBO. “Conditions were brilliant, the boat is brilliant and well maintained and the crew so experienced. They’d done a transatlantic three times and knew how to sail her. We didn’t push boundaries, and that attitude suits me.”
Other problems crews experienced this year included damaged sails, malfunctioning autopilots, and electronic issues. On Sea Candy, skipper Chris noticed a mystery leak, which he traced to the rudder shaft. Fortunately it was an ‘easy fix’ which he tackled in Cape Verde by fashioning a rudder shaft boot from a car-tyre inner tube.
Roz Preston, who sailed her homebuilt Bill Dixon yacht in memory of her late husband, described the voyage as ‘absolutely fantastic’, and though the experienced crew had a few teething issues in the first four days, knowing the boat inside out, from having spent seven years building her, helped with troubleshooting.
First over the line
First over the ARC+ finish line was the Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo, setting a new record for the second leg with an elapsed time of 9 days, 5 hours 26 minutes and 49 seconds.
Arriving in Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina, crewmember Giulio Gatti, described the passage as ‘tough but exhilarating’.
“We were racing along, reaching speeds of over 20 knots in sometimes confused seas and at night. There were times when we were certainly not in our comfort zone”.
Next over the line was returning Outremer 51 catamaran Piment Rouge, the victor in a one-on-one match race with the identical Outremer Helia 2. The two crews had almost stuck hull to hull with each other, taking a mostly northerly route.
Having crossed the finish line, Piment Rouge took the reciprocal course and went back to accompany Helia 2 across the finish line.
With still some boats to arrive in Port Louis, there’s a party atmosphere in the marina, where every new arrival is clapped in and cheered by the other boats on the pontoons. Marina staff and World Cruising Club’s yellowshirt crew are on hand to help jubilant (and often exhausted) crews moor after their crossing, with local tourism students at the ready with rum punch and a goody bag from Grenada Tourism.
World Cruising Club are hosting a full itinerary of events for the crews, who are recuperating in the marina pool and bar, and booking tours further afield to explore Grenada’s beautiful beaches, trails, waterfalls and rum distilleries.