ARC Rally, Day 0

After years of dreaming, almost a year in planning, months of organization and weeks of final preparations, Moonshadow and crew are ready for the 25th annual running of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). The course will take us approximately 2700 nautical miles from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands of Spain across the North Atlantic Ocean to St. Lucia in the West Indies.
This rally is significant for Moonshadow as it is where she began her westabout circumnavigation with first owner Mike Gluck after she was launched in Finland in 1986. It is significant for us as it is the last long ocean leg of our circumnavigation that started in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in November of 1994.
Moonshadow has attracted a lot of attention since she arrived in Las Palmas two weeks ago as she is the only yacht in the 2010 ARC fleet of 240 yachts that sailed in the 1986 inaugural ARC, and was the first monohull to finish the passage (to Barbados that year), making the crossing in less than 14 days.
Our first crew, Charles Scoones, joined us in Lanzarote nearly a month ago after sailing down from the UK on a Swan 66. Charles is a fellow Stewart 34 sailor and owns Princess, the second one launched and has enjoyed years of successful racing and cruising aboard her in Auckland waters. This transatlantic will be Charles second. His first was more years ago than he will admit to, when he was the tender age of 19 years old. His lifetime of racing and cruising on waters all over the world will be an appreciated asset to the passage.
Our other two crew, Kurt “the Mad Monk” Boyle and Graham “Gollum” Jones, both of whom have been previous passage Moo-Crew, flew half way around the planet from Auckland and joined us early this week.
Graham, also a regular crew on Stewart 34’s, joins us for his seventh passage aboard Moonshadow. His sailing, mechanical, plumbing and general seamanship skills more than make up for his sick and twisted sense of humor. His quick thinking and calm head when all is going pear-shaped is always appreciated aboard.
Kurt is back for his second passage on Moonshadow. Kurt is also a Stewart 34 owner and has raced and cruised his yacht Pelagian in Auckland and Hauraki Gulf waters for 9 years and is shaping up as a competitive racing sailor. As a pastor, we hope he can pull a few strings with the guy above to influence the wind Gods. Otherwise, he’s the only guy that can come close to Graham’s sick humor.
The transatlantic passage will be the second longest for George and the longest for Merima to date. As “snacktician,” Merima has spent countless hours provisioning and planning meals to keep the crew fueled up for the demanding rigors of passage. George will take to the keyboard daily to keep you up to date on our progress and life on board during passage
In the two weeks we’ve been in Las Palmas our livers have endured a punishing schedule of happy hours, cocktail parties, dinner parties and fiestas. The Canarians have been most welcoming and helpful, making sure that we not only have fun, but we have all the skills and supplies to make the fleet of yachts ready for the journey ahead. As I write, yet another parade is marching to “Anchors Aweigh” on the quay astern of us.
We will be competing in the “Invitation Cruising” division o the ARC, which is comprised of cruising yachts 18 meters (about 60 feet) and larger. The largest yacht in the division is an 80 foot Swan which should be a real weapon if the breeze gets up. Mooonshadow is the oldest in the division and carries the smallest sail plan, so it will be interesting to see how we match up the larger, more modern and powerful yachts we’ll be sailing against.
It’s almost time for Kurt to bless the crew and then toss off the lines and head out to the start line off the Las Palmas waterfront so we’ll sign off for today.

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