Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Fast Lane Meets the Slow Lane

While in Niue, we managed to arrive at the same time as part of the World ARC fleet. Most cruisers shudder at the approach of the World ARC. They tend to come and go in groups, somewhat like locusts, sucking up all the local resources (and raising prices on everything). But I was really interested to meet some of the boats and people.

The World ARC is a 'cruising rally' organized by World Cruising (formerly Jimmy Cornell, but now run by someone else), and they make it around the world in about 2 years (see worldcruising.com) The participants pay quite a fee to enter--something like $30K, and this entry fee smooths their way around the world. They are 'coddled' at every port by ARC representatives.

In Niue, there was an ARC representative waiting for each boat ashore, with the Niue Yacht Club representative, a cell phone to arrange things, a car, NZ dollars, and lots of local information. One boat's crew was whisked off to the Bottle Store (liquor store) by the ARC rep for a couple of cases of beer before they even cleared Customs (obviously very thirsty). Also the ARC helps immensely with the tedious process of trying to get repair parts in remote places.

There was an arrival banquet arranged (free to them, but we had to pay $25NZ to attend). The ARC had split up a little on this leg, and only about 6 boats were in Niue when we were. A few that were supposed to be here had gone to American Samoa to assist one of the ARC boats who had gotten holed in bad weather in Suwarrow. And another contingent had been through previously and were already in Tonga. We met a couple of the crews--nice guys from Glamorous Galah, an Australian boat. But they don't really meet many real cruisers, because they are moving so fast. Most of them arrived on Friday and left on Sunday. They had one day to tour Niue and then blast off again. THAT'S how they make it around the world in 2 years!!

They were due in Tonga about 1 June (obviously the folks we met in Niue were running a little late) and their next rally point is Musket Cove, Fiji (on the west side of Fiji) on July 4th. So they are doing all of Tonga and Fiji in less than one month!! Obviously they only catch the high spots--but for someone who can only afford to take two years off, the ARC makes it possible by helping with all the logistics.

They were pretty blown away when we told them that we had been underway for 5 years and have only made it 1/3 the way around the world.

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