The fleet leaving the BVIs in 2016 Credit: © WCC/Isabelle Tremblay
At this time of year cruisers in the Caribbean will be making their plans for hurricane season. Some will leave their yachts in the region, having them hauled ashore and strapped down on insurance approved cradles. Others will head further south – below 12 degrees north latitude the incidence of tropical storms reduces considerably. A number will continue cruising, maybe looking to make a safe haven, possibly among the mangroves at the head of a very well sheltered creek, in the event of a storm affecting the island group they are in.
However, many others head north, beyond the hurricane risk, either to North America or to various points in Europe. While the overwhelming majority make these voyages independently, there are others who prefer the social aspects, shared planning and logistical support that an organised rally can offer.
World Cruising, organizer of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, better known as the ARC, that attracts 300 plus boats each year sailing from the Canary Islands to St Lucia, also runs three northbound routes. In 2017 these depart on May 6 from Nanny Cay marina in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. This is almost the most northerly major yachting harbour in the island chain and certainly one of the most attractive, with excellent repair and provisioning facilities.
One group of yachts will head directly to Fort Lauderdale in Florida, routing between Haiti and the Bahamas, covering a distance of 1,000 miles. From here they can make their way further north predominately within the shelter of the Intracoastal Waterway. The other two groups will initially head to Bermuda, an 850-mile voyage, where they will have time to explore the island during the preparation stages for the 2017 America’s Cup. This fleet will divide here, with some yachts heading to the east coast of the USA, primarily to Portsmouth, Virginia, a distance of just 640 miles.
San Jorge in the Azores. The islands make a stunning cruising destination in their own right. Credit: Rupert Holmes
Those bound for Europe will continue a further 1,800 miles from Bermuda to the Azores. After a period of cruising these stunning mid-Atlantic islands they will depart for either the Mediterranean or for northern European destinations, arriving in early to mid June. At the time of writing there is still space for further entries.