Southern Boating

Rally to the Caribbean this fall—no plane required!

NARC rally participants. Photo credit: Photo credit: David H. Lyman

Thoughts turn to warmer climates when it starts getting cold up north. One of the most popular ways for sailors to make this migration south is as part of a rally, which offers the benefit of “cruising in company” with other like-minded sailors. Crucial services such as pre-rally safety seminars and professional weather forecasting offer other advantages. Plus, there are social events held exclusively for rally participants that take place before casting off and at the voyage’s completion. This offers the kind of camaraderie you just can’t get by going it alone. These four rallies are headed to the Caribbean this month.

North Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (NARC)

November 1st is the target start date for the rally. It’s strictly for professionally crewed boats or boats big and fast enough to transit from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda in less than five days. Organizer Hank Schmitt has set up a great leapfrog route with a nice dockage discount at the St. Georges Dinghy and Sports Club in Bermuda before reaching St. Maarten. Here, Island Global Yachting (IGY) hosts a party for rally participants at its Simpson Bay Marina. Many NARC ralliers meet up for a weeklong get-together in Dominica in February.

Salty Dawg Rally

Experienced blue water sailors, led by Bill and Linda Knowles and their organization’s mascot Jack Russell, Brie, will depart on November 2nd from Hampton, Virginia, en route to the B.V.I. A rendezvous is planned for December 10th at the Bamboushay Lounge in Road Town, Tortola. There’s lots of support along the way due to the vast offshore experience of the participants. Plus, Salty Dawgs will find discounts on goods and services both in the U.S. and B.V.I. thanks to friendships forged by rally founders and their volunteers.

ARC Caribbean 1500

First-time passagemakers to the Caribbean and seasoned offshore cruisers alike participate in this rally started nearly 30 years ago by the late Steve Black. This year’s rally departs from the Ocean Yacht Marina in Portsmouth, Virginia, on November 6th with the bulk of the fleet set to arrive in time for the November 18th award ceremonies at Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola, B.V.I. By November, the first set of docks at Nanny Cay’s new 120-slip outer marina, an expansion of its currently facility, will be complete.

Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)

If you’re en route to the Caribbean via Europe, this is the rally for you. Participation spans from families with children to groups of friends, as well as those repositioning race boats for the Caribbean’s winter and spring regatta season. This year, the fleet leaving from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to Sao Vicente in the Cape Verdes, before sailing for St. Lucia, departs on November 6th. Those heading straight for St. Lucia from Gran Canaria set off on November 20th. Everyone arrives at IGY’s Rodney Bay Marina the second week in December, where festivities include a welcome party hosted by the island’s tourism board, cultural activities, jazz concerts, and lectures on topics such as Caribbean cruising and cooking.

Those who want to sail north in the spring will also find rallies in May. The Salty Dawg Spring Rally sails from the B.V.I. to Hampton, Virginia; ARC USA casts off from the B.V.I. then on to Portsmouth, Virginia, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, via the Old Bahamas Channel.

By Carol Bareuther, Southern Boating Magazine November 2016