Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is two hundred miles north-east of Brazil and is not an official World ARC destination. However, it’s so beautiful most of the fleet decided to go there for a few days after Cabedelo.

Nice spot for lunch
Nice spot for lunch

The anchorage is well protected except from north-easterly swells, with plenty of room for plenty of boats. Karen did a couple of dives and we rented a dune buggy for a day and explored the island a little. Inevitably we ended up at a luxury resort for lunch…

Cu-Nim developing

Much more on Karen’s site.


Chris & Karen with a Tuna
Chris & Karen with a Tuna

Funny old thing, fishing. We weren’t sure we’d do any on this trip, never having fished before, but we inherited a rod and reel with the boat and Martin passed it fit for duty. He promptly proved it by catching a decent-sized wahoo.

So when we arrived in Gran Canaria off we went to a fishing shop where we bought a new rod & reel, some spare line and a selection of lures, mostly pink plastic squids. We also popped into the off-licence for a cheap bottle of vodka, a splash of which which sends them to fish heaven almost instantly.

So each morning, assuming the seas are not too rough, the rain not continuous and enough crew awake to be able to deal with a catch, we set two lures two or three boat-lengths behind the boat. We then go back to our normal activities e.g. navigating, boat repair, boat maintenance, sleeping, radio net calls, cooking, reading, writing blog posts, FaceTiming family etc.

A few indeterminate hours or days later, we are startled into action by the sound of one of the lines running out as a fish takes the lure. At this stage, five things can happen:

  1. The fish immediately rejects the lure and disappears.
  2. The fish bites the line and takes the lure to the deep.
  3. We are too slow to get to the reel, the line runs all the way out, breaks, and the fish gets the lure and 150 ft of line.
  4. We battle the fish to the side of the boat whereupon it thrashes up and jumps the hook.
  5. We successfully gaff and land the fish. Note this only has a 20% probability…

Assuming we land the fish, we then give it a dash of vodka, bleed it (increases flavour), gut it and fillet it. Sounds easy but probably takes 40 min or so.

Yesterday we heard the lines running out and both lures had been taken! The fish on the starboard line took option 1 and vanished but we managed to land the other one, which was a magnificent tuna.

Oh, I’ve missed a sixth possibility after a bite: the fish becomes bait for a bigger fish. Nice work, Tim!

Great catch, Tim!
Great catch, Tim!

Ua-Pou to Ahe

From the Marquesas to Bora Bora is “free sailing” on the World ARC. That means we can go where we like as long as we all meet up in Bora Bora on 11 May, to prepare for Leg 5. It’s about 1000 nm from Ua-Pou to Bora Bora with lots of atolls in between – the Tuamotu Islands and the Society Islands being the main groups.

With Patrick and Janie leaving us in Nuku Hiva (thanks for all your hard work!) Karen and I decided to sail to Ahe in the Tuamotu group on our own. 480 nm is three days and three nights of sailing. We ran a three hour on, three hour off watch system and although tiring, not too bad and definitely possible for short passages.


The highlight was catching a tuna on day 2. We think it may have swallowed the hook completely as it was already dead when we landed it. Karen gutted and filleted it – there’s probably enough for 16 servings!

Arriving in Ahe posed a new challenge – the atoll. Only one way in and always a current dragging you one way or the other. The advice is to enter on slack tide, which in the South Pacific is six hours after moonset or moonrise, that would be 1220 local for us. Our ETA was 1400 which we thought might be too late, so we motored for the last few hours and arrived outside the pass at 1315. It didn’t look too bad so, with life jackets on and the boat buttoned up, we motored though the pass. All good, but definitely not something to do at night or in bad weather.

Ahe Atoll
Ahe Atoll
Ahe Atoll Entrance
Ahe Atoll Entrance – Tiarerao Pass

The anchorage is by the “Village” – we’re surrounded by shoals, “boombies” and reefs. Again, day VFR only!

At Anchor
At Anchor

Leg 4: Santa Cruz, Galapagos to Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands

The Plan
The Plan
The Tracks
The Tracks of the ARC Fleet

Three weeks at sea – this is the longest passage of the whole circumnavigation, 2980 nautical miles in a straight line.

But you can’t go in a straight line because you need to go south to pick up the Trade Winds. How far south? Good question.

In our case, we missed the official start because we couldn’t raise the anchor. The chain was snagged on something but it magically freed itself an hour later. Once we were on our way we went a little further west and a little less south than most of the fleet. It still took three days of motoring to find the wind, and even then the wind was less strong and more variable than we’d experienced in the Atlantic.

Some of the hightlights of the 21-day passage: a midnight rescue of Raindancer, a non-ARC boat which hit a whale and sank within 15 minutes. Eight ARC boats diverted to the last known position of the liferaft but another non-ARC boat, Rolling Stones, got there first and effected the rescue. Fishing: we threw three fish back which we decided were too small to eat, but landed a tuna and a small mahi mahi. Sun shots: Patrick was keen to use the sextant so between us we took quite a lot of sun shots. Our fixes were usually within 5-10 nm of our GPS position – good enough! Fixing the boat (not really a highlight): the generator played up on this leg. By trial and error and some advice from other boats, I narrowed the problem down to the fuel feed, so we eventually found a way to keep the genny running. Losing the generator means we have to charge the batteries by running the engine, but it also means we can’t run the water-maker.

As we finally anchored in the small bay of Hiva Oa, I recorded our total distance as 3080 nm. Here’s to some shorter passages over the next few weeks!

World ARC Leg 1: Rodney Bay, St Lucia to Santa Marta, Colombia

Poled-Out Genoa
Poled-Out Genoa

So we’ve finally set off on the grand adventure. For this leg and and the next we have Tim & Jane aboard to help.

The race start went well. Without trying too hard (too risky to challenge hard when you’re in your home!) we were third over the line, but boats 1 & 2 were judged to be over the line at the start so we were officially the first boat across.

Sunrise at Sea
Sunrise at Sea

After an hour or so, as the boats started to spread out, we took some time to rig the pole and set the sails for the 800 nm of downwind port tack sailing ahead. With that done, we were able to pretty much stay on the rhumb line (direct) for Santa Marta. We did have to gybe to starboard a couple of times but we simply furled the main and sailed on just the genoa until we could gybe back and put the main out again.

The only fly in the ointment was that Jane was poorly for most of the passage. A cold turned chesty then coughy then ear-achey. We called our medical support service and they recommended antibiotics, which we have onboard. She’s now on the mend.

Overall it was a very pleasant passage. No big seas, no bad squalls, winds below 25 kt most of the time, and we had success fishing!

The first fish that took the hook took the whole line and lure as well. Rerigged, the next one just took the lure. Third time lucky – a Mahi Mahi took the bait and Tim and Karen reeled it in. The fish was a beautiful yellow-green colour and it’s now in the freezer ready for our next meal onboard.

We are now in Santa Marta, Colombia, and can’t quite believe we’ve sailed our boat from France to South America! It just doesn’t seem real.

Next are a few days’ R&R and boat maintenance, then World ARC 2023 Leg 2: Santa Marta to the San Blas Islands.

Read more at:
Karen’s Travels
World Cruising Logs
YB Tracker

ARC+ Leg 2: Cape Verde to Grenada

2180nm in two weeks. By the time we got to Grenada we were ready for a break.

Preparing Dinner
Preparing Dinner

The first two or three days were the worst – the genoa furler packed up so we had to drop it into the forecabin. The furler needs to work in case you need to furl the sail in a hurry, for example if a squall hits unexpectedly or man overboard. The genoa is the “power sail” so our speed reduced from 7.5 to 6.5 knots – a shame since we’d had a good start and were sitting around 20th out of 88 at that stage.

The next day we flew the Super Zero, but after an hour or so the tack line cut through the bowsprit so we had to try to take it down. It got horribly caught around the forestay and – long story short – Karen went up the mast and cut the sail away. It was dark by the time she was back on the deck, and her arms and legs were black and blue with bruises. Very brave.

The rest of the trip we sailed using only the mainsail and the jib (staysail), so the passage took two days longer than planned. Laura and Karen prepared some wonderful meals – we ate very well – and under Martin’s guidance, landed a wahoo which we cooked and ate the following evening.

We are now resting and repairing the boat ready for the next part of the journey. We will make our way to St Lucia for Christmas and the start of the World ARC on 7 January.

Much more on this passage on Karen’s blog.