Preparing for the ARC
We haven’t been able to do much sailing during the winter, but we have been enjoying our time in Tunisia, and getting some projects done. I really like Tunisia, it’s a slower pace of life, and the people are friendly and helpful.
Things are starting to get exciting now as we begin our preparations for the 2018 ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which we will be joining this year for our Atlantic Ocean crossing. A rally is a group of boats traveling together and following an organized route and itinerary. We were part of the Sail Indonesia rally a few years ago when we sailed from Darwin, Australia to Singapore, and it was a fantastic experience for us. We learned a lot, made lifelong friends, and had a great time sharing the experience with other sailors. So, given the choice of crossing the Atlantic on our own or with a rally, it was an easy decision to join the ARC.
The ARC leaves Las Palmas, Canary Islands on November 25th, and the crossing typically takes 15 – 20 days (depending on the weather) to travel the 2,680 nautical miles to Saint Lucia. Not only are we really looking forward to the passage, but we are also very happy that some friends and family will be joining us to help out. Robin’s brother Kirk is coming with us, and so are our long time friends Misti and Clive who are living in Australia. Gavin will be in University, so having some extra hands on board will be a nice help, and will give us a 6 person watch rotation!
Last week we received the ARC 2018 handbook, which is a lengthy read, and full of detailed information, instructions and tips on how to participate in, and get the most out of the ARC. The good news is that it takes a lot of the guess work out of the passage planning and safety preparations. The bad news is that although I tried to configure Wildling pretty comprehensively for ocean voyaging, we are not in compliance with many of the ARC requirements, and we would fail the inspections that are done prior to departure, so I have some work to do to get us ready!
None of the ARC requirements seem unreasonable, and some of them I knew we had to meet anyway, but still I was a bit surprised to see how many of the checks that we currently FAIL. The biggest issue is their requirement for two independent systems of navigation lights, which will require us to install a tri-color light at the top of the mast. I wish I had known that when we were building the boat!
WILDLING fails the ARC checklist 🙁
Here’s the list of checks that each boat must pass before being allowed to take part in the ARC.
|Item||ARC requirement||Wildling status||Score|
|Liferaft||ISO 9650 Liferaft - Type 1, Group A, with emergency provisions for >24 Hours for each person||I decided to delay buying a raft, because I didn't want it to be out of service at the time of the rally, so this is a known item that we needed to buy anyway.||FAIL|
|Liferaft||Must be in a dedicated locker or mounted externally and must be ready to deploy within 15 seconds||The Outremer 5X has a dedicated liferaft locker in the cockpit, and it also has a removable hatch to give access to the raft if the boat is upside down||PASS|
|Liferaft||Liferaft painter must be secured to a strong point on the boat||Our raft is in a dedicated locker and has to be removable, so there is no permanent point to attach the painter. I'll need to get instructions from the ARC officials on how to comply with this requirement||FAIL|
|VHF radio||Fixed, 25 Watt VHF radio with a masthead antenna||Installed in the factory||PASS|
|VHF radio||An emergency antenna for the 25 Watt VHF radio that can be fitted in case of demasting||We have two 5 Watt handheld VHF radios on board, but ARC requires an antenna that can be connected to the boat's main 25 Watt VHF radio||FAIL|
|Handheld VHF||A handheld VHF radio must be carried. The radio must be waterproof with DSC and GPS and minimum 5 Watts||we have two 5 Watt radios but they don't have DSC or GPS||FAIL|
|A communications system capable of sending and receiving email offshore- either via SSB HF radio with Pactor modem or via Satellite||We have an ICOM SSB Radio, but it does not have a Pactor modem so can not handle email. We do have an Iridium 9555 Satphone that does.||PASS|
|EPIRB||Must carry an EPIRB capable of 406 MHz AND 121.5 MHz with integrated GPS||Our EPIRB has all of these features||PASS|
|Radar reflector||Passive radar reflector is required. Can be either 300 mm diameter octahedral plates or a cylinder reflector with a minimum 10 m2 RCS (radar cross section)||We have a small cylinder reflector fitted above the upper spreaders, but these are specifically NOT approved by ARC||FAIL|
|AIS||Must have a receiver as a minimum, transmitter is recommended||Our B&G AIS has both receive and transmit||PASS|
|Flares||SOLAS compliant, less than 4 years old. 4 red hand held flares (2 of which may be eVDS) 2 orange smoke flares||We have all of these, just have to make sure they will still be current when we reach St. Lucia||PASS|
|Lifebuouy||One permanently buoyant lifebuoy with a drogue, light, and whistle||PASS|
|MOB module||Danbuoy or pole type. Signal pole must be automatically deployed||We have a Danbuoy canister that self deploys on contact with the water||PASS|
|Lifebuoys||Boat name must be printed on all lifebuoys||This is easy on the throwable ring, but I don't know how to put the boat name on the packaged Danbuoy module||FAIL|
|Throwing line||15 to 25 m floating line stored within reach in the cockpit||We have the line, but it is not stored correctly or ready to throw||FAIL|
|Bilge pumps||One automatic and one manual that can be operated in the cockpit with hatches shut||We have 6 automatic pumps (3 per hull) and two manual pumps in the cockpit||PASS|
|Navigation lights||Two independent sets of lights required. Primary set is bow and stern, and secondary is mast tri-color||We have the bow and stern, but we do not have a mast tri-color. This will require installing a new light at the top of the mast, and running wiring inside the mast. Not a small job!||FAIL|
|Searchlight||Handheld, watertight, high intensity light, powered by the boat's batteries and available in the cockpit, with spare bulbs for the light.||Our searchlight is LED so there are no spare bulbs available. We will have to get a spare light instead||FAIL|
|Lifejackets||1 combined lifejacket and safety harness is required for each crew member with whistle, light, marked with boat name, reflective tape, crotch strap and sprayhood / face shield||We do not have sprayhoods for our lifejackets and we don't have the boat name marked on them||FAIL|
|Safety tether||Each lifejacket must have a safety line not more than 2m (6’6”) long with a snap hook at each end and an additional snap hook, secured at a point of the line to provide one short and one longer tether.||Our double tethers are the same length||FAIL|
|Rearming kits||Spare rearming kits and gas bottles for each make of lifejacket onboard||We carry two of these||PASS|
|Jacklines||Through bolted jacklines on port and starboard decks and elsewhere as necessary||These are installed standard by Outremer||PASS|
|Heavy equipment||All heavy equipment (anchors, batteries, gas bottles, etc. must be firmly secured)||Fitted in the factory||PASS|
|Grab bag||Grab bag must float, be marked with the boat's name and include: second liferaft sea anchor and line, two safety can openers (if food/water rations carried are in cans), waterproof hand-held VHF transceiver, watertight flashlight with spare batteries and bulb, EPIRB, first aid kit, including sunscreen and medical supplies for pre-existing medical conditions, graduated plastic drinking vessel for rationing water, two Cyalume-type sticks or two watertight floating lamps, one daylight signalling mirror and one signalling whistle, additional high energy food, additional drinking water in a dedicated and sealed container, or a hand operated desalinator, plus containers for water, string, polythene bags, seasickness tablets.||Our grab bag is missing some of these items. I'll also be adding a hand operated watermaker and fishing tackle.||FAIL|
|Charts||Paper charts and pilot guides for the route||Yes||PASS|
|Navigation||A recognised secondary or alternative method of navigation||I'm assuming this is a handheld battery operated GPS and paper charts.||PASS|
|Lifelines||Securely fitted taut double lifelines/guardrails around the entire deck||Factory fitted by Outremer||PASS|
|Anchor||Suitable weight with chain and rope||Yes||PASS|
|Fire extinguishers||Fire extinguishers (at least two), suitable for size of boat and within service date||Yes, just need to check the service dates||PASS|
|Fire blanket||Secured near the galley||We have a galley extinguisher, but not a blanket||FAIL|
|Washboards||Companionway washboards to be capable of being secured shut and with lanyards (to prevent accidental loss when removed for access or with the main hatch open).||I'm assuming this is a monohull requirement. There are no washboards on a catamaran||PASS|
|Through hull plugs||Bungs or softwood plugs – securely attached/stowed adjacent to each fitting to enable any through hull fitting (below and above waterline) to be closed off||We have a bag of softwood bungs, but they are not attached to each fitting||FAIL|
|Flashlight||A watertight high powered flashlight with spare batteries and bulbs||We have 3 of these on board||PASS|
|Emergency steering||Emergency tiller or steering device||We have the optional tillers on our 5X, which are directly connected to the rudder shafts||PASS|
|Rigging cutters||Hacksaw and spare blades, bolt croppers or a suitable method for cutting-away rigging||We have a hacksaw and blades, but no bolt croppers||FAIL|
|Medical kit||Medical kit and manual||We have a medical kit, but no manual.||FAIL|
|Buckets||At least two, of stout construction and fitted with lanyards; capacity to be at least 2 gallons (9 litres)||We use collapsible rubber buckets, so they are probably not "stout" enough for the ARC requirement||FAIL|
|Instruments||Echo sounder and boat speed/distance log||Yes||PASS|
Our plans are to try and haul out in Malta in August so we can get the bottom repainted and service the saildrive legs. I should be able to get most of our failures addressed by then. We also need to get some rigging checks done, and fix an issue with our instruments before leaving for the Canary Islands.
I’ll post a lot more info about our experience with the ARC as we go along.