People have been sailing across the Atlantic for centuries, and realising this dream is still often life-changing. Recently, sailors crossed as a community.

People have been sailing across the Atlantic for centuries, following in the wake of Columbus in 1492, but there is still something about this navigation that quickens the pulse.

It is a dream that inspires many sailors that is both life-affirming and, for many, life-changing.

So, this year, 155 yachts, including a record 45 multihulls, crossed the Atlantic with the 38th ARC rally organised by the World Cruising Club, sailing an average of 3,000 miles from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia.

There were 30 junior sailors under age 16, five yachts with a double-handed crew, five female skippers and 13 racing yachts amidst the cruising fleet.

Mashal and Lonneke waving to the camera aboard their yacht. Both wear life jackets and sunglasses

Mashal and two-year-old Lonneke Bösch at the start aboard Wolkenschlösschen. Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

The yachts enjoyed near-perfect trade wind conditions with sunshine, calmer 3-4m seas and moderate to gentle winds between 18-22 knots, with the odd 30-knot squall.

There were few breakages, with most yachts spending around 20 days at sea.

Changing tack for sailing across the Atlantic

What was most striking was the degree of planning and forward-thinking that has gone into sailing across the Atlantic.

Many of this year’s sailors had been planning for years, even decades, and some for most of their adult lives.

Couples talked about how they had dreamed of it before meeting each other, how they sold their houses, switched countries to allow homeschooling afloat, quit their jobs and saved for years to enable them to cross the Atlantic and perhaps continue blue-water cruising.

Athena – A wedding while yacht cruising

Contest 50CS

This year, one couple chose to get married mid-Atlantic in a beautiful ceremony conducted by the skipper.

Aboard Athena, Philip Mrosk had planned a surprise wedding ceremony for his beloved Evelina in a wonderfully romantic gesture.

The skipper and his crew were in on the secret and told Evelina there would be a formal celebration for reaching the midpoint of the crossing.

Philip and Evelina are grinning and standing on deck. Evelina is wearing a white veil and wiping away a tear. The sky is blue and the couple are wearing formal clothes.

Philip and Evelina tied the knot mid Atlantic. Carsten, the skipper, conducted the ceremony. Photo: Evelina Mrosk

‘I asked Evelina to dress up as there would be a ceremony for reaching the midpoint in the Atlantic and that the skipper would like to say a few words.

So everyone was smartly dressed in the heat,’ said Philip.

‘I asked Evelina: ‘Do you want to marry me again in front of Poseidon?’ Then I pulled out a veil I had packed for the occasion.’

And, Carsten conducted the ceremony, which was particularly poignant as Carsten had taught Philip to sail some years earlier and they were all members of the same Munich sailing club.

‘It was a huge surprise. It was wonderful. Carsten had prepared a ceremony with beautiful words. I just had tears in my eyes because it was so lovely,’ Evelina explained.

The couple from Munich had been legally married in August in the city hall, but without a church ceremony. ‘It was really a special moment as Carsten is important in our life.’

The five crew members in matching navy t-shirts celebrating with drinks aboard.

The Athena crew celebrate completing the ARC after their arrival in St Lucia. Photo: Lennart Bosch

In addition, the couple, a civil engineer and a coffee roaster, would like to start sailing across the Atlantic in their own boat.

The WCC presented Philip and Evelina with a special Honeymoon Award to celebrate.

Wolkenschlößchen – Toddling aboard

Jeanneau 51

For Mashal and Lennart Bösch and two-year-old Lonneke from Hamburg, sailing across the Atlantic was a dream for more than a decade.

The couple are taking a year-long parental leave and wanted to do the crossing before being involved in schooling.

‘It’s been a dream of mine for about 15 years from before the time I met my husband.

A friend of mine was following a blog from a couple who started sailing from Barcelona. I was completely fascinated; the pictures, the nature, the romanticism.

Lonneke peeps over the top of a wooden table. On the table, there is a piece of paper for the message in the bottle with writing on it in felt tip.

Lonneke helps to prepare a message in a bottle midway across the Atlantic. Photo: Lennart Bosch

‘So when I met Lennart, a year later, I kept on telling him “We should do that”.

He comes from a sailing family. His dad, Andreas, is a regatta sailor and is joining us on the trip, as is his brother and two cousins.’

So, the couple, who had little sailing experience, took sailing courses and chartered in Majorca and then Cuba.

Shortly afterwards they bought a Jeanneau 51 and named her Wolkenschlösschen (literally, a little cloud castle, meaning ‘a flight of fancy’).

‘It was an emotional purchase. We tried her out on the Baltic Sea to see how it felt to be sailing with a young child.

Then we asked for parental leave in September 2022 and sailed away in early 2023, spending seven months in the Mediterranean before heading for the ARC.’

Ahead of the ARC, the boat was prepared to be off grid, fitted with lithium batteries, extra solar panels on the sprayhood and a watermaker.

There were also extra safety measures for sailing with a two-year-old, notably a cover across the transom to stop anyone falling off the stern and a custom-made bimini that can enclose the cockpit.

Wolkenschlösschen was one of the 10% of the fleet that kept to the north, rather than sailing south with the majority.

‘With the forecast, we saw that there was an area of lighter wind in the north and stronger winds to the south. We deliberately decided to sail in the lighter winds and the lighter waves.

It meant that we could use our Oxley parasailer and we generally had an easy time. I think we sailed a shorter distance than other boats. We sailed about 2,900 miles.’

The 7 Wolkenschlösschen crew members smiling on deck, in sunny weather. They are all wearing t-shirts apart from Lonneke

The Bösch family crew of Wolkenschlösschen in Rodney Bay marina, St Lucia. Photo: World Cruising Club

At sea, Lonneke had a doting grandfather and uncles as well as parents to help keep her amused. She liked to help with the washing up in a bucket, do various crafts and helped write a couple of messages to put in bottles that she then threw into the sea.

As for Mashal: ‘The crossing went much better than I ever imagined, also with Lonneke. I remember the day we left, I had tears and I was so scared.

Then seeing her playing around, not asking about land, so happy, was wonderful. We were very lucky.

I never imagined that we would cook every day, except one. I never thought that we would put the Oxley up as much, day and night. Overall I’m incredibly grateful that we had such an experience.’

JUNE – ‘An open-ended blue-water cruising adventure’

Nautitech 44 open

Peter and Natalie Hunt from Victoria BC, and their two children, daughter Sonnen, 11, and son Remy, 7, had a plan for the last few years to get a boat and go for a family adventure.

So, they started looking for a yacht during Covid and finally bought a new Nautitech 44 Open catamaran in June through broker Max Shaw, who joined them on the ARC trip.

‘We’re on an open-ended blue-water cruising adventure. We’ll journey on as long as it continues to feel good for all four of us,’ says Peter.

‘The goal is to get to the South Pacific – it will be nice to slow down there. We may get down to New Zealand and Australia. After the Caribbean, we will head through the Panama Canal.’

The Hunt family is standing on their yacht, smiling. There are palm trees and gentle waters behind them.

Peter, Natalie Hunt, and their children, Sonnen and Remy, aboard their yacht. Photo: Natalie Hunt

In preparation, Peter and Natalie retook all the sailing courses and also chartered the same type of catamaran in the British Virgin Islands to get to know the boat.

‘It was a great way to introduce the kids to cruising as well. They’ve been doing sailing lessons since they were four in Optimist dinghies, but they were never super keen on it.

And then we went to the BVI and they were like, “Oh, this is good”.’

Starting in June, they sailed from La Rochelle down the coast and into the Med to Tunisia, needing to be outside the Schengen zone.

They parked the boat in Bizerte to go on a trip to see the Sahara desert. ‘It was a nice way to test a longer passage as a family,’ said Peter.

‘The kids get in a really nice rhythm aboard. They like to help a little bit on passages by driving the boat.

They especially love sleeping outside on the bench. We just clip them into the jacklines.

When we switch back and forth at night, they often wake up for a little bit and maybe sit out with us and look at the star constellations or see some phosphorescence and go back to sleep.’

Sonnen sitting on the yacht, wearing a lifejacket and looking through binoculars at the horizon. It is fair weather.

Sonnen Hunt, aged 11, keeps an eye on the horizon. Photo: Natalie Hunt

Sonnen and Remy usually do around two hours of schooling in the morning. They also have a tutor that they connect with a couple of days a week.

‘On the crossing, we did quite a bit of school and it was really fun,’ said Natalie. ‘We did a lot of reading together and we tried to cover school topics.

Remy and I had talked about tectonics and the mid-Atlantic ridge and crust formation. So we marked it in a GPS and went over as we were travelling over it to celebrate. It was really cool.’

With winds in the range of 18-22 knots for most of the crossing, with the odd 30-knot squall, June averaged seven knots, but hit a top speed of 17 knots one day surfing down a wave, clocking around 190 miles per day.

In preparation, Peter and Natalie upgraded their communications, including Starlink, and also the power systems – they now have 2,000W of solar panels and a generator.

They also replaced the halyards and added chafe protection. They had minimal breakages on the trip and finished second in the Multihull Division B.

The family are smiling with Max aboard their catamaran. It's night, and they are wearing waterproof clothing.

Peter and Natalie Hunt on arrival with Sonnen, 11, Remy, 7, and Max – the broker who sold them the boat. Photo: World Cruising Club

‘We had done about 5,000 miles and pushed the boat pretty hard before we got to the ARC. So we’d already had it in 30 knots and done an upwind passage or days.

We felt quite comfortable out there because we had been in conditions that were more adverse than what we saw on the passage,’ said Peter.

PENNY OYSTER – Sailing around the world

Oyster 406

Millie Webb and David Warner have planned, saved and worked hard for four years to achieve their dream to spend at least two years sailing around the world.

David and Millie bought their yacht Penny Oyster, a 1987 vintage Oyster 406, two years ago after searching for 18 months.

The Penny Oyster, sailing with the crew aboard. The weather is fair.

Millie Webb and David own Oyster 406 Penny Oyster. Millie was the first female skipper. Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

‘When we saw the boat, we thought it was meant to be,’ said David. ‘We sold everything. I had a house in Kent, which we sold. We invested everything into the boat. This is life.’

The couple were living in a flat in Brighton, but moved onto the boat for the next two years. ‘

That was just to save as much money as possible. And it was really helpful because we learned so much about the boat because we were using her every day.

If the water pump stopped working, we knew how to fix it because we needed running water.’ Millie added: ‘We were still working at the time – I’m a teacher and Dave is a quantity surveyor. 

So, the couple, sailing under the Sussex Yacht Club flag, left the UK in August, after Millie’s school term ended, picking up friends Phoebe and Tom in Portimão in Portugal.

Phoebe, Tom, Millie, and David in t-shirts and shorts aboard the boat. There are no clouds in the sky.

Millie and David (right) sailed in the ARC 2023 with friends Phoebe and Tom (left). Photo: James Mitchell/WCC

‘We’re aiming for the Panama Canal in February or March. And then we’ll be sailing in front of the cyclone and hurricane seasons en route across the Pacific with all the wonderful stops along the way.

We will spend Christmas 2024 in South Africa, then through the Suez Canal or back across the Atlantic and through the Caribbean to Bermuda by May 25 and back in the UK by August 2025.

‘We put two years on the trip, but knowing that it could be more. I think two years is what we’ve managed to save,’ said Millie.

‘Effectively, £1,000 a month is what we are aiming to spend. We have got a bit of contingency in that for boat breakages and if we need to buy a set of sails, but just to keep it affordable.’

The crossing was smooth, albeit with chafe on the halyards and spinnaker pole. The spinnaker was hoisted almost every day and it helped to steady the boat.

Overnight the jib was polled out and the main set on the opposite side.

‘We wanted to keep it safe at nighttime. And there was an hour that you would be by yourself so you needed to be able to reef quite easily by yourself.

So we would fly the kite up until probably a half hour before sunset,’ Millie explained.

The team, who like to race, hand-steered during the day, sailing across the Atlantic in 20 days. Millie won first female skipper on corrected time. 

‘The crossing was pretty perfect. It was very overwhelming coming into land in the sense that obviously we’ve not seen other people for a long time.

For us, the ARC has been a long time coming. We’ve really wanted to be able to do this for a long time and to do it on our own boat was incredibly exciting,’ said Millie. 

Article continues below…

CARRICK – An 89-year-old sailing across the Atlantic 

Rustler 42

Jonathan Hutchinson, now in his 90th year, was the oldest participant in the ARC. He sailed with his two sons, Jonathan and Simon, the skipper, who are both retired, and a friend.

‘The average age of this crew is 70 years old,’ joked Jonathan junior. 

‘My father introduced my brother and I to sailing 50 years ago, and we’ve done it on and off, here and there ever since.’

All three had a career in the forces. ‘My brother was in the Army, I was in the Navy and my father was in the Air Force.’

The crew are wearing matching pink t-shirts and standing aboard the Carrick. The sun is setting behind them.

Jonathan Hutchinson (second from left), aged 89, sailed with his sons Jonathan (left) and Simon (second right), the Rustler 42’s skipper. Photo: Yachting Monthly

The crew on the Rustler 42 Carrick considered entering the Fastnet race as a shakedown cruise but the insurance was tricky. ‘We had a quick sail across to Southern Ireland and back again as a crew, just to make sure that it would all work. 

That was our main preparation and a few zoom calls and a bit of work on things like medical stuff and the food that we require.

We actually set sail on October 2 because we wanted to make sure we got through the Bay of Biscay window.

So we had two or three weeks knocking around the Canaries and Madeira, which was quite fun. And so by the time we got to Las Palmas and ready for the ARC, we felt we were a reasonably well honed as a crew by then,’ explains Jonathan.

Carrick crossed the line second in the Division 1 Cruising class E, finishing sixth in their class on corrected time. ‘We did it in just under 20 days. We’ve logged something like 5,200 miles since we left Plymouth on the 2 October.’

A beautiful Carribean marina, including fairly calm water, palm trees and sunny skies.

Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia, where the yachts gathered after the ARC crossing. Photo: Heather Prentice

The ARC community

What many sailors mentioned was the spirit of the ARC, the camaraderie and the support from other sailors and the ‘yellow shirts’ of the WCC.

Wolfgang and Petra Hass aboard the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 54DS Gian won the Spirit of the ARC prize.

A group photo of the 'Grandparents' and many children from the fleet. There are medals around many children's necks.

Wolfgang (right) and Petra Hass (centre) from Gian were known as the ‘Grandparents of the fleet’. Photo: World Cruising Club

Having done two previous ARC rallies, the couple deliberately chose to berth on the family pontoon in Las Palmas, offering advice and support to the families around them and became affectionately known as the ‘Grandparents of the fleet’ due to their happy hosting of all the young sailors.

‘I would never cross the Atlantic without the ARC,’ said Wolfgang. ‘It is a big adventure for everyone.’

A table with various cups and wooden awards lying. There are ARC banners around these awards.

The awards lined up, ready for the prize giving. Photo: Heather Prentice

Crew’s top tips for Atlantic sailing


  • Start the planning as early as possible. Try to build relationships with the people who will be doing the crossing with you.
  • Get to know your boat well. Know how to repair everything and how all the systems work. Carry out a significant shakedown cruise to test the boat and its equipment.
  • Know your power systems and always carry a spare, fully charged battery that is disconnected from the motor. If relying on solar power, remember the day is only 10 hours with 14 hours of darkness while using batteries. If relying on wind generators, remember the wind is from the stern. 
  • Know your sails. A parasail or a tradewind sail is immensely powerful and may put some strain on rigging, bowsprit and other parts of the boat. Have a plan for sailing downwind in over 30 knots of wind.
  • Know how to rig a preventer system. This year saw a broken boom (pictured) as the preventer had been fixed to the middle of the boom, not the end. 
A broken boom with grey skies behind.

Know how to rig a preventer system – the crew of this yacht got it wrong, resulting in a broken boom. Photo: Heather Prentice

  • Prepare for chafe. Protect the halyards and guys at all points of rubbing. Be prepared to cut and replace halyards, sheets and spinnaker guys.
  • Have a comprehensive selection of professional tools and spare parts (see below), which must be stored correctly to avoid corrosion.
  • Arrive early in Las Palmas. You need to build some flexibility into your schedule. At least a month early is good so you can prepare calmly and do some repairs.
  • Not all parts are available in Las Palmas. There is delivery time (and cost) for parts to arrive. There are services in Las Palmas but they may be fully booked.
A spinnaker pole, which someone has braced and reinforced. The weather is sunny with a few clouds.

A spinnaker pole repait. Be prepared to cut and replace halyards and guys. Photo: Heather Prentice

  • Start the provisioning at home. It can be less expensive and people tend to panic and buy too much at the last minute. Have plenty of tinned and canned goods aboard for an emergency – three months supply. A can compacter helps rubbish storage.
  • Even if you’re not prone to seasickness, take medication the night before at the start of the trip. This ensures a good night’s sleep and can stop you being caught off guard at the beginning of the event.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for people feeling ill. Don’t sit in the sun for long periods. The wind keeps you cool but you can easily dehydrate without feeling it. 
  • Plan a good watch system in advance: three on, five off, three on, five off, worked well for Penny Oyster. The first watch was with a buddy, receiving a handover of what’s going on for the first hour; the second hour by yourself; third hour was with the incoming watch for another handover to get them up to speed.


All tools must be of professional quality and should be stored in a cabinet to guard against corrosion. Wolfgang Hass on Gian has converted a hanging locker into a tool cabinet with around 10 flat drawers containing spares of every kind.

This includes:

  • All types of fuses
  • Cables of different diameters
  • Spare alternator for the engine
  • Spare starter motor
  • Impeller for the generator and motor
  • Spare new toilet pumps
  • Gas regulators
  • Jump start cables borrowed from the car
  • Crimping tools, also for larger diameters for batteries
  • Angle grinders
  • Wire cutters
  • A charged extra battery that is not connected to the motor


About 20% of the fleet were using lithium batteries. Circumstantial evidence appears to show that Lithium LiFe batteries are less flammable than Lithium Poly LiPo batteries. The batteries should be in a separate metal box. 

Different types of fire extinguishers should be aboard as well as a kitchen fire blanket. A special extinguisher for fat is recommended as it can be very flammable and spread widely. 


In addition to standard safety items:

  • Waterproof hand-held VHF radio
  • Iridium satellite phone
  • Watertight flashlight with spare batteries (and bulb if not LED)
  • Portable solar charger for phone/torch
  • Second EPIRB
  • Two red eVDS (electronic flares)
  • First-aid kit, including sunscreen and medical supplies for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Graduated plastic drinking vessel for rationing water
  • Two safety can openers (if food or water is carried in cans)
  • Additional drinking water in a dedicated and sealed container, or a hand-operated desalinator, plus containers for water
  • Additional high-energy food
  • String, polythene bags, seasickness tablets
  • Two ‘Cyaulme’ sticks or two watertight floating lamps
  • Second sea anchor and line
  • Dry clothes

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