by Des Ryan
More than eighty yachts taking part in the Annual 'Port2Port' Rally - Port Vila in Vanuatu to the Port of Bundaberg in Queensland, have arrived in Australia, with the last stragglers soon to arrive.
On land at last - Cruising kids play in the marina after arriving from Vanuatu
THE last few yachts in the Port2Port rally are expected to arrive at the Bundaberg Port Marina this week.
The annual event, which starts in Vanuatu and other destinations in the Pacific islands, this year underwent some major changes, including allowing two months for arrival rather than 10 days.
Bundaberg Cruising Yacht Club president Lesley Grimminck said about 75 of the 85 boats had already arrived, with some staying at Burnett Heads for the entire spread of festivities and others moving on.
Lesley Grimminck, organiser of Port2Port Rally
'We have about tripled (the number of boats) compared to last year and double the number from previous years,' she said.
Ms Grimminck said throughout festivities after the rally regular events were held, such as a weekly bus tour to different spots in Bundaberg, a Sunday night barbecue and happy hour on Friday afternoon.
This year the club also released the magazine, Gateway Port Bundaberg, across the Pacific to promote the event.
The rally is always, in true cruising tradition, strictly not competitive. However, prizes are given for the yacht that most accurately forecasts its arrival time. The Bundaberg Cruising Yacht Club, a band of dedicated volunteers who formed the club just to run the rally, traditionally turn on an exhausting welcome for the newly arrived sailors.
The rally consists of cruisers from many nations, many of them circumnavigators who use the rally as a fun way to finish their Pacific crossing, with many children taking part as part of a family adventure.
Bundaberg Cruising Yacht Club president Lesley Grimmick said yachts from many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, the USA and Great Britain, took part in the rally.
Many of the North American and European yachts will continue on to Darwin and South East Asia, while many of the Australian boats have completed their circumnavigations or finished their cruising in the Pacific, and all of the boats will have reached Bundaberg before the cyclone season begins!