On the delivery of a Lagoon 450 from Annapolis to Key West and about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina, I was asked if I wanted to be the fourth crew member on a transatlantic passage leaving in May. At the age of 16, I remember sitting on the beach in Ocean City, NJ, starring across the water at the horizon while contemplating what it would be like to sail to England. Now, almost five decades later, sailing across the Atlantic was a real possibility.
The next 36 hours were sleepless. I could not imagine a better opportunity. The boat would be a two-year-old Jeanneau 509 equipped with radar, AIS (Automatic Identification System), and a life raft. My former ASA 101, 102, 104 instructor, Roy Rogers, would bring 30 years of sailing the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean, plus practical knowledge of sailboat maintenance. We would be taking part in the ARC-Europe with 30 other boats. The Atlantic Rally to Europe https://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/event.aspx.
On the other hand, there are risks. During those sleepless hours, I was more worried about asking my wife, than heavy weather, hitting a container that fell off a cargo ship, a lightning strike that would take out the electronics (autopilot, chartplotter, AIS, radar, etc.), or one of hundreds of other things that could go wrong on a sailboat. Being a glass is half full person, I gathered to courage to ask my wife. She was wonderfully supportive.
On March 24-25, we will be at the Navel Academy in Annapolis for an Offshore Safety at Sea workshop. http://www.ussailing.org/education/safety-at-sea/. The course, sponsored by U.S. Sailing, covers Heavy Weather, Storm Sails, Crew Health, Hypothermia, Jury Rigging and Repair, Fire Precautions, Lending Assistance, Life Rafts, and Signals.
On May 5, we will depart from Portsmouth, Virginia. The first stop will be Bermuda, about 640 natical miles. Depending on the winds and weather, we will have about five days to explore Bermuda. The longest leg is 1800 nm to the Azores, a volcanic archipelago of nine islands. We will take eleven days to visit four of the islands. At the Horta marina, Island of Faial, we will paint an image of our boat, North Wind. For an image of the wall, see https://www.gettyimages.ae/detail/photo/at-horta-marina-island-of-faial-azores-high-res-stock-photography/554383049. Legend has it that this will bring us good luck for the last 840 nm to Legos, Portugal.
The World Cruising Club maintains a Fleet Tracker website that allows one to track the progress of the boats. https://www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe/arc_europe/eventfleetviewer.aspx On May 5, the 2017 ARC fleet will be replaced with the 2018 fleet. Use the search function to track North Wind.