I wrote this post before we left (on November 24th), follow us via GPS here (Yacht DORY, from Norway) and stay tuned for the full report once I get back on land
### At the bottom of this post, you will find a link to part 2/2 ###
So I’ve decided to sail across the Atlantic. In January-May, I spent 3 months learning how to sail in South Africa and that learning should be put to good use, otherwise there’s no point, is there?
After some quick research, I decided to join 270 boats crossing the atlantic with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in November 2013:
“Every November since 1986 the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has set sail from Las Palmas, bound 2,700 nautical miles westward across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.”
1) How to find a boat
Ok, that’s the tricky part. Since May 2013, I have some decent sailing qualification (RYA Offshore Yachtmaster), still the competition is fierce: There’s at least a 3:1 ratio between folks looking for a crossing and yachts offerings spots. Most skippers will start gathering crews up to one year prior to departure. Last week, I spent a few nights at a hostel where 7 other people were looking to for a boat.
So, what’s the best way to convince people that you are the best possible crew to cross the Atlantic when you don’t know anyone? Let’s email people!
On October 24th (exactly one month prior to ARC’s start), I started contacting people:
270 boats joined ARC 2013, if you take out the Racing class (too serious) that’s 234 boats left. Finding contact emails for boat owner is very tricky, some have a blog yet even then their emails aren’t always featured.
On 27 emails sent, I got 19 replies: 70% ratio is quite nice. 17 didn’t have any spot but agreed to keep an eye out, another 2 boats agreed to meet me for an interview in Gran Canaria.
I booked a one way tickets to Grand Canaria, packed my stuff and printed business cards. If all else fails, they will come in handy when I walk the docks.
After two very nice interviews, I got accepted onboard Dory, she is a Bavaria 47 skipped by Jon & Trude, a very nice couple from Norway. Meet Dory:
2) What have I packed?
Crossing should take us about 3 weeks, going through cold temperatures in the middle of the Atlantic at night to extremely warm in the Caribbean. Humidity is the only constant here.
> What to bring: I made a list of everything I took with me. I’ve already lost a few items, the usual.
Shopping for food & supplies turned out to be interesting. When sailing for a long time, you need to make sure to manage your electricity and keep your batteries happy. Dory also has a Watermaker (useful yet unreliable at times, turns salty water into drinkable water).
We have 3 Solar panels and 1 windmill and that should (theoretically) make us independent, energy-wise.
3) How to find sponsors
Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to be sponsored by Decathlon for my adventures. This time, I had very last minute discussions with some friends running startup that could use some PR exposure.
Our good friends from Trampolinn – a free home exchange community will accompany me for the journey, thanks guys!
Also, Fatim from New Work Lab in Casablanca is also endorsing the trip, thanks too !
4) How do you prepare for a crossing?
Large quantity of food and water, we are 4 people on the water for about 3 weeks. On the picture, about half of our food (and Trude looking delighted), including large amounts of Nutella
5) What’s next
Well we are off on Sunday 24th, estimated arrival time about Dec. 15, give or take 5 days. I will be writing another article once I get there, in the mean time follow us via GPS here (Yacht DORY, from Norway).
See you on the other side!
#EDIT: 23 days after, we made it! Read the 2nd and last part here