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 πŸ™

Here’s the list of checks that each boat must pass before being allowed to take part in the ARC.

ItemARC requirementWildling statusScore
LiferaftISO 9650 Liferaft - Type 1, Group A, with emergency provisions for >24 Hours for each personI 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
LiferaftMust be in a dedicated locker or mounted externally and must be ready to deploy within 15 secondsThe 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 downPASS
LiferaftLiferaft painter must be secured to a strong point on the boatOur 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 requirementFAIL
VHF radioFixed, 25 Watt VHF radio with a masthead antenna Installed in the factoryPASS
VHF radioAn emergency antenna for the 25 Watt VHF radio that can be fitted in case of demastingWe 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 radioFAIL
Handheld VHFA handheld VHF radio must be carried. The radio must be waterproof with DSC and GPS and minimum 5 Wattswe have two 5 Watt radios but they don't have DSC or GPSFAIL
EmailA communications system capable of sending and receiving email offshore- either via SSB HF radio with Pactor modem or via SatelliteWe 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
EPIRBMust carry an EPIRB capable of 406 MHz AND 121.5 MHz with integrated GPSOur EPIRB has all of these featuresPASS
Radar reflectorPassive 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 ARCFAIL
AISMust have a receiver as a minimum, transmitter is recommendedOur B&G AIS has both receive and transmitPASS
FlaresSOLAS compliant, less than 4 years old. 4 red hand held flares (2 of which may be eVDS) 2 orange smoke flaresWe have all of these, just have to make sure they will still be current when we reach St. LuciaPASS
LifebuouyOne permanently buoyant lifebuoy with a drogue, light, and whistlePASS
MOB moduleDanbuoy or pole type. Signal pole must be automatically deployedWe have a Danbuoy canister that self deploys on contact with the waterPASS
LifebuoysBoat name must be printed on all lifebuoysThis is easy on the throwable ring, but I don't know how to put the boat name on the packaged Danbuoy moduleFAIL
Throwing line15 to 25 m floating line stored within reach in the cockpitWe have the line, but it is not stored correctly or ready to throwFAIL
Bilge pumpsOne automatic and one manual that can be operated in the cockpit with hatches shutWe have 6 automatic pumps (3 per hull) and two manual pumps in the cockpitPASS
Navigation lightsTwo independent sets of lights required. Primary set is bow and stern, and secondary is mast tri-colorWe 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
SearchlightHandheld, 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 insteadFAIL
Lifejackets1 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 shieldWe do not have sprayhoods for our lifejackets and we don't have the boat name marked on themFAIL
Safety tetherEach 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 lengthFAIL
Rearming kitsSpare rearming kits and gas bottles for each make of lifejacket onboardWe carry two of thesePASS
JacklinesThrough bolted jacklines on port and starboard decks and elsewhere as necessary These are installed standard by OutremerPASS
Heavy equipmentAll heavy equipment (anchors, batteries, gas bottles, etc. must be firmly secured)Fitted in the factoryPASS
Grab bagGrab 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
ChartsPaper charts and pilot guides for the routeYesPASS
NavigationA recognised secondary or alternative method of navigationI'm assuming this is a handheld battery operated GPS and paper charts.PASS
LifelinesSecurely fitted taut double lifelines/guardrails around the entire deckFactory fitted by OutremerPASS
AnchorSuitable weight with chain and ropeYesPASS
Fire extinguishersFire extinguishers (at least two), suitable for size of boat and within service dateYes, just need to check the service datesPASS
Fire blanketSecured near the galleyWe have a galley extinguisher, but not a blanketFAIL
WashboardsCompanionway 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 catamaranPASS
Through hull plugsBungs or softwood plugs – securely attached/stowed adjacent to each fitting to enable any through hull fitting (below and above waterline) to be closed offWe have a bag of softwood bungs, but they are not attached to each fittingFAIL
FlashlightA watertight high powered flashlight with spare batteries and bulbsWe have 3 of these on boardPASS
Emergency steeringEmergency tiller or steering deviceWe have the optional tillers on our 5X, which are directly connected to the rudder shaftsPASS
Rigging cuttersHacksaw and spare blades, bolt croppers or a suitable method for cutting-away riggingWe have a hacksaw and blades, but no bolt croppersFAIL
Medical kitMedical kit and manualWe have a medical kit, but no manual.FAIL
BucketsAt 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 requirementFAIL
InstrumentsEcho sounder and boat speed/distance logYesPASS

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.

10 Comments on “Preparing for the ARC

  1. What a fantastic journey you all are on. Can’t wait to hear of the progress.

  2. Thanks for sharing Doug, interesting reading. Wally Walou would pass most of these items but we too would have some items to address!

  3. Super helpful to see the checklist. If i’m going to go buy equipment for my boat I might as well outfit it to ARC standards the first time out. Thanks!

  4. Doug, I very good idea to use the ARC checklist / compliance rules as a guide when buying a boat to ensure it is fitted out to meet these requirements – it is a comprehensive list to comply too but all good especially the two independent systems of navigation lights, installing a tri-color light at the top of the mast.

  5. Hi Doug and Robin , Thanks for the opportunity to be part of your crew for the crossing Nice to see that most of the items that need attending aren’t too complicated , apart from the Mast Tricolour. If you need a 2nd head to bounce things off , glad to offer verbal assistance now and lots of muscle and sweat when we get there. All the best Clive and Misti.

    • Hi Clive, it’s great that you can come with us! I will take you up on your offer and ask some advice. As I look into the tricolor light issue a bit more, I realized the reason we don’t have one is because we have a rotating mast. A tricolor has to be aligned with the heading of the vessel, so of course on a rotating mast, the tricolor would indicate the vessel is heading in a different direction than it actually is, and in this case would be a safety hazard. Does this reasoning make sense to you? I’m also going to check with the Outremer owner’s group to see how other folks have dealt with this issue.


      • Hi Doug, sounds like your reasoning is sound. To keep the light facing forward while the mast rotates is going to take a wonderful mechanical linkage or a electronic stepper motor , both of which are prone to fail. So in an effort to keep things simple and to satisfy the rally requirements, I think doubling up on the bow and stern deck nav lights on a seperate circuit sounds a go. Also emergency battery clamp on bow and stern nav lights might do.
        All the best,

  6. Seems like a lot on this list is good to have on any boat crossing. Some of the the stuff howeaver on the list is a bit over the top.

  7. Adding a hand operated watermaker to a grab bag is a good idea, but I heard that some sailors prefer fo use a Sea Pack and solar still, because it allows you to get water more easy in case you are hurt or tired. What do you think about those?

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