The ARC is a competition that consists of crossing the Atlantic, starting from the Canaries to the Caribbean. It's more than 2,700 nautical miles to sail. A challenge that Marion and Arthur (@sailing_silene) took up earlier this year! And as if it wasn't challenging enough by itself, they chose to do it with Arsène… their 6-month-old child. And in fact, they did very well, arriving in second place!
They made the crossing on their Excess 11, Silène. Today, Marion is sharing with us how she felt and her advice for being well prepared for the crossing and getting to the end of the race! Thank you to her for this precious testimony!
- How would you describe the crossing?
Exhilarating!!! It was our first transatlantic sail, and it was really a great experience. We were out of our comfort zone with downwind sailing, something normally quite rare for us, and forcing us to experiment with new sail configurations. We were surprised to find ourselves playing a nautical rally game very quickly: every day we plotted the position of the other boats on the chart and discussed the best strategy (route, sailplan) to adopt. It was stimulating and really fun!
2. What is your fondest memory?
I’d have to say, the day of departure. The atmosphere was indescribable, a mixture of excitement and stress. Between the goodbyes with the people remaining on the dock, the other boats on the startline, photos, shouts of encouragement, final checks... the pontoon was buzzing! Some boats had even organized fancy dress! In fact, we got so preoccupied that we forgot a fender...and we only realized it after seeing the official photo of the start!
3. What was your biggest challenge?
Unsurprisingly, our biggest challenge was crossing the Atlantic safely...with our 6-month-old baby on board! In the end, everything came together very naturally: our crew quickly became attached to Arsène, they looked after him during the day, which gave me a bit of a break. We were very lucky: Arsène always slept through the night, which meat we always had four of us to work the night watches. He naturally adapted to the progressive change of schedule, almost better than us in fact! Having a baby on board kept our days busy and set the rhythm. We even wondered at the end how crews without children do it!
4. How did you prepare for your trip?
The choice of crew (we were 4 adults) came about very quickly: they immediately asked us if they could take part in the adventure as soon as we told them about the project. As for us, we’d already sailed with 3 people from Les Sables d'Olonne, in France, so we were quite used to sailing with Arsène on board. The week before the start, we took advantage of the seminars organized by the ARC so we could be better prepared in terms of safety, sail management, weather and food on board. Personally, I read a lot of testimonies from sailors, both amateurs and professional. To be able to anticipate as far as possible any problems or accidents, we briefed our crew members on the location of the safety equipment and the function of each item depending on the situation. Ultimately, our crossing took place without any problems. For meals, I had anticipated by preparing a list of recipes, some of which were feasible even in the event of a problem with the gas. I think everyone would agree with me that we had a great time during our Atlantic crossing!
5. Your three essentials for a serene departure with a baby on board?
Once again, I think that for sailing with peace of mind when you’ve got a baby on board, especially heading offshore, you’ve got to try and anticipate as much as possible the (fortunately rare) emergency situations. So I would say first of all a life jacket that’s the right size for the baby. We made sure it had a lanyard to attach him to mine if needed. Then, I would say food... in excess! You can never perfectly predict the duration of a crossing nor the incidents that will happen (spilled milk...). I think I had enough milk for at least 2 months! Of course, you should never ignore your baby when calculating the amount of drinking water to carry... Finally, I would advise you to carry a first aid kit and, if necessary, cards with the procedure to follow according to the symptoms: paracetamol, rehydration solution, or even antibiotics... An appointment with your pediatrician before departure will allow you to discuss this with them and to do a little “check-up” just for your own reassurance.
6. How would you describe your boat having sailed on it now for quite a long time?
In our opinion, it’s the perfect compromise between comfort on board and at anchor, and great sailing sensations with performance that often impresses us! It sails very well upwind and in light airs. With just 7 knots of apparent wind, we’re already moving faster under sail than under power. We don't regret our choice at all and enjoy every day we spend aboard our Silene.