Some of the most asked questions about the ARC and the oddest, including where to get a sperm count

The most frequently asked questions:

1. Q. When is the start? A. This year it is on 25 November. The rally always starts on the third Sunday of November.

2. Q. How many boats are entered? A. 230 this year.

3. Q. How far is it from Las Palmas to Saint Lucia? A. The rhumb line distance is 2,700 miles, but depending on how far south boats go before turning west the actual distance sailed can be up to 3,000 miles.

4. Q. How much does it cost? A. Cost for a typical boat and four crew is £1,200.

5. What do you get for the money? A. Comprehensive handbook with info for preparations, 2 weeks of activities, parties and seminars in Las Palmas, 14 days of activities and parties in Saint Lucia, daily forecast, satellite tracking and position reporting, 3 days’ free berthing Saint Lucia and discounts in marinas en route.

6. Q. How long does it take? A. It depends on the wind conditions, of course, but typical times are 16-18 days for a 45ft yacht. The majority of family cruisers on most years arrive between 18 and 21 days after starting.

7. Q. What sort of weather could we expect? A. With a crossing as early in the season as the ARC in November, the tradewinds are not aways well established and you can headwinds, calms, rough seas, squalls, normal Trades or any and all of those. Getting good, up-to-date weather information is important.

8. What’s the best route to take? A. It depends on the weather on any given year. Sometimes the direct route is quickest, although it often gives a period of headwinds or calms. The most reliable passage plan is, however, sometimes the quickest: run your latitude down to around 20°N, 30°W before turning right, following the age-old advice to ‘head south til the butter melts’.

9. Q. What’s the best sail plan? A. It’s really personal preference, depending on how you like to sail and how competitive you are. You can use twin headsails, Twistlerig, a symmetric or asymmetric spinnaker; or a main and poled-out genoa ‘barn doors’ set-up will do fine.

10. Q. Where can I get weather forecasts, synoptic charts and grib files? A.Daily forecasts are sent out by World Cruising Club. Good sources of synoptic charts are:

Ugrib, Mailasail and Saildocs are excellent sources for grib files.

11. Q Can I use my engine?

A. Yes, if you are in the cruising division. All boats are given an ARC handicap and for fun competition time penalties are added for motoring hours. For anyone who wants to race competitively there is a racing division run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.

12. Q. What happens in an emergency? A.Yachts are able to assist each other via the ARC radio net and World Cruising Club liaises with the Coastguard MRCC.

13. Q. How much water should I carry? A. A good guide for a basic minimum is 5 litres per person per day.

And the more unusual questions…

14. Q. How much fruit will I need to take? A. One piece per person per day is a reasonable guide?

15. How can I stop bananas going ripe all at once? A. You can’t.

16. Q. Where can I get a vasectomy? A. Private clinic in Las Palmas. (Is this really the best time…?)

17. Q. Where can I get a sperm count? A. As above.

18. Q. Where can I find a piano tuner? A. ??

19. Q. What is the gestation period of a cat? A. Around 64 days. Had an unwelcome visit from a local tom? (Yes.)

20. Q. Where can I find an English electrician? A. England.