Time for a New Sailing Adventure! Atlantic Crossing & More!


I hope this update finds everyone in good health and fortune. It has been a while since Stephen and I last posted a personal update. We have been staying very busy helping catamaran enthusiasts make their dreams come true with consulting and yacht sales (check out all the exciting stuff some of our boat owners have been up to here), building the catamaran sailing community, supporting recovery in the Bahamas from hurricane Dorian, and readying to take ownership of our new Bali 5.4 being built in France.

After our 2019 All-Catamaran Rendezvous in May, our “extra time” that summer was consumed with planning and supervising the process of our new boat. With all this going on including selling our Zuri 2, we had no exciting travel adventures for at least four months. That is about to change!

We’ve logged thousands of bluewater miles and have enjoyed numerous trips all over the world. Every trip was fun and exciting and, usually, educational. But they do not compare with the trip we are about to undertake!

Bali Catamarans has teamed up with us to sail our new Bali 5.4 across the Atlantic in the ARC Rally from the Canaries to St Lucia in the Caribbean. Here’s a rundown of our adventure from taking possession of the boat in France all the way through our Atlantic crossing as part of the ARC Rally.

If you are new to Catamaran Guru, here’s a bit about our journey of leaving behind successful jobs in our homeland of South Africa to sail the world and eventually starting Catamaran Guru.

Making the Bali 5.4 our New Home and Office

bali 5 4 saloon tilting door open cockpitOn October 15, 2019, we fly to Barcelona, Spain. From there, we will rent a car to drive two hours north to the Bali factory in Canet-en-Roussillon, France. This is where we will take our first giddy steps aboard our newly-built Bali 5.4 that will look something like the picture at right. We’ve named her Z3.

We are lucky to have two close friends and sailing buddies, Don and Lynda (of Michigan), with us for this momentous occasion as we take possession of our Bali 5.4 that, of course, is in a yacht business program. Don and Lynda will be along as crew for the entire adventure.

Building and buying a new boat from afar is hard and requires a lot of attention to detail. Having helped hundreds of people go through the same process, you would think we would be calm about it all, but even with all that experience, we keep wondering if we have forgotten something. This “meeting” at the Bali factory will tell the tale. Read here about our research around the design features and building process of the Bali 5.4 Catamaran.

After seeing Z3 complete for the first time, we will be scurrying to outfit her before we leave as she is a brand-new boat with nothing on her. In addition to the usual provisioning for the crew, we also will be acquiring, installing, and setting up galley equipment, bedding, spare parts, tools, and more. We have shipped some basic items over, but the high cost to ship things along with the worry of it arriving, have left us with the plan to acquire and install only what we absolutely cannot live without for our crossing. The rest will wait until our return to our home shores in the Miami area.

With Z3 sorted out, the four of us will shove off to explore the Mediterranean Sea for a while, Island hopping along the way. We will spend this time becoming familiar with Z3, learning the intricacies of the boat and the way she sails.

Readying for the ARC Rally

Around the 28th of October, we will dock in Gibraltar at Alcaidesa Marina on the southern tip of Spain. Here we will pick up two more crew members, Deon and Janine (South Africans from Texas). We’ll spend a few days provisioning and exploring this small English commonwealth. Stephen, being from English heritage, is ecstatic that he will be able to eat his favorite English dishes like steak and kidney pie, bangers and mash, etc.

In 1992, we completed the exact trip we are about to embark upon from Gibraltar to the Caribbean. We crossed in our monohull called Royal Salute passing through the Canaries. It took us 18 days to sail to Antigua. We will essentially retrace our steps, but this time on a “high-tech” catamaran compared to our monohull built in our backyard. Hell, we had a GPS the size of a satellite phone and it was BASIC!! We still did noonsites on our sextant then! It will be interesting to see how this passage compares between the vintage and modern vessels and technology.

catamaran guru 2019 arc rally route mapAs we prepare for the rally, we will be hosting meet-ups, and in fact will host meet-ups over the coming months. Check the meet-up schedule to join us along the way!

Next, Z3 and her crew will set out into the deep blue Atlantic Ocean about 700 miles southwest to the island of Madeira. This is a National Park belonging to Portugal. We will spend three days there exploring the island, drinking copious amounts of Port, and eating our fill of our favorite Portuguese dishes.

From Madeira, we’ll sail south 300 miles to the Canary Islands. We’ll take a dock at the Las Palmas Marina for a week. This island lies off the coast of Morocco, Africa, about 160 miles. We’ll be joined here by 1200 sailors on 200 sailboats from around the world. Among them are the last of our crew, Steele Greyling from South Africa and Florian, from LaRochelle, France. Florian is a hotshot sailor, so we are thrilled to have him onboard!

A crew of eight on a boat sounds crowded, but each couple has their own en-suite cabins and we have an extra crew cabin en-suite for Steele. There is plenty of space to lounge and the galley is enormous. Each crew member is assigned tasks so that the daily operations will run like a well-oiled machine!

Las Palmas will be the starting point for the World Cruising Club’s ARC Rally race across the Atlantic Ocean ending in St. Lucia. The participants, all 200 boats, will congregate in Las Palmas for a week of preparation, provisioning, and partying before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Partying? Imagine how 1200 sailors will party knowing of their impending sobriety over the following two-and-a-half weeks. What could go wrong? I hope the island has a good supply of alcohol!

ARC Rally

On November 24th, Z3 and crew of 8 will start the race across the Atlantic at 12:30 pm from Las Palmas to St. Lucia, a distance of 3000 miles. The organizer, World Cruising Club, estimates it will take between 17 to 21 days to make the trip. We are hoping to do it faster than that, but that will be determined by what Mother Ocean dishes out!

World Cruising Club will track the entire ARC Rally race in real time crossing the Atlantic Ocean, showing boat positions, and the tracks they’re making. We will also have a tracker on Z3 so you can see where we are in real time. If you are looking for the tracker later, just visit our home page as it will be there during the voyage.

Z3 was built in the Catana factory, and they are known for building fast boats. Stephen has worked with the engineers at the factory to come up with a unique sail plan complete with running back stays. The running back stays reinforce the mast for what should be a long downwind run due to the trade winds. We sailed a sister ship to Z3 off the coast of Canet, France, in June while we did our Bali factory tour. The boat was not only fast, but solid, so we expect good things performance-wise.

Watch the trackers and our Facebook page and Instagram posts to follow the ARC Rally experience.

Once in St. Lucia we will hang around for a few days until the awards banquet on the 21st of December. We hope to win a trophy, so please follow us across the ocean real time on our website here and root for us! Once there we will welcome anyone onboard who would like to get an up-close look at the new Bali 5.4. Check out our schedule for meet-ups and make your appointment!

Following the awards ceremony, we will continue north along the Windward Islands through the Bahamas eventually to our home port in Fort Lauderdale in time for the Miami Boat Show.

catamaran guru 2019 2020 meet up locations mapJoin Us for A Meet-Up

We will host meet-ups as we prepare for the ARC Rally and upon its conclusion in St Lucia. As we island hop the Caribbean from St. Lucia to Fort Lauderdale, we will continue hosting meet-ups. Send us an email to let us know you will be joining us so we can send you more information about when and where. Also, Catamaran Guru Facebook events will be posted for the schedule below.

  1. Nov 17-23, 2019: Las Palmas, Canarie
  2. Dec 18-22, 2019: St Lucia
  3. Dec 24-27, 2019: Martinique
  4. Dec 29, 2019-Jan 3, 2020: Antigua
  5. Jan 5-8, 2020: St Martin
  6. Jan 10-14 2020: BVI
  7. Jan 18-20, 2020: Puerto Rico
  8. Feb 13-17,2020: Miami Boat Show

I Want to Meet-Up!

These are plans as they stand for now. These plans will immediately be thrown out the window the second the trip starts. That’s what happens when dealing with Mother Nature and other unknowns. This will at least give you an idea as to how it is supposed to happen! Follow us on Facebook and check back here for updates.

Read the Update on Our Adventure


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