by Des Ryan
It's to think about migrating to sunnier climes, and sailors are no different. If you are located somewhere chilly and want to head to the Caribbean to avoid the cold winter months, a rally is a great way to do it:
Setting off on the 2012 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
Here are the rallies this year heading to the Caribbean, from Europe and from the east and west coasts of North America:
Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC):
Multihulls start - 2011 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
Probably the best-known rally in the world, the ARC is over 25 years old and has been every sailor's favourite stepping off point to undertake what for European sailors is the 'big leap' - across the Atlantic. Boats need to arrive in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria by November 17, and the fleet heads out on November 24.
There is a racing fleet, but it's very small, and collaboration is the name of the game, not competition. Most boats will arrive in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, between December 11 and 16, and each boat is greeted with rum punch and fresh fruit.
What the ARC is particularly expert at is arranging fantastic parties before and after the event. Of course, the joining price somewhat reflects this.
But of course, there are other rallies, and the original founder of the ARC is now organising another, quite different rally.
The Atlantic Odyssey:
Jimmy Cornell is launching a new transatlantic rally that’s just for cruising sailors. Participants will have a choice of start dates and departure and arrival ports.
The Atlantic Odyssey will leave from two ports in the Canary Islands—Arrecife on November 17 and Santa Cruz de la Palma on January 12, 2014—and head to the Caribbean. Those who leave on the earlier start date will head to Le Marin, Martinique, and the others will sail to St. George’s, Grenada.
Christmas Caribbean Rally:
The Christmas Caribbean Rally 2013 is also a new sailing rally crossing the Atlantic, taking place at the end of 2013. The CCR will leave Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote on Monday 16th December 2013 and participants will sail the 2850 miles to arrive in Jolly Harbour, Antigua in the New Year.
These rally organisers say they are using the natural rhythm of the seasons to optimum effect; The later departure date means the trade winds are likely to be fully established and the hurricane season is well and truly over. It also coincides with some school and college holidays, so that families with children of all ages can join the rally.
The Caribbean 1500 is the longest-running ocean rally in North America, and each year attracts a great variety of sailors, from beginners to highly experienced. Beginning in Portsmouth, Virginia, at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, participants sail in company to Nanny Cay, in the British Virgin Islands. Lots of social gatherings are included with the safety checks.
This year, boats will start to gather in Virginia on October 26, and will head out on November 3 (weather dependent). The awards ceremony will take place on November 15 (or 12 days after a delayed start).
Salty Dawg Rally:
This is a newcomer to the rally scene, now in their third year —and each year, it just gets bigger! The rally leaves from Hampton, Virginia, on November 4 (weather permitting) and winds up somewhere south—the bulk of the fleet head to the Virgin Island, but others make tracks for the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and other destinations. The Salty Dawg Rally is free to join, and there are social gatherings in the week leading up to departure.
Free weather routing is provided by Chris Parker, and other discounts are available to participants as well.
Baja-Haha - for those on the West Coast of North America:
The Baja-Haha is the West Coast’s largest cruising rally. It starts in San Diego, California, and heads in three legs to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the tip of the Baja peninsula, and part of the Baja-Haha experience is in the good home-made fun that the crews from the 100+ rally boats participate in.
Boats begin gathering in San Diego around October 19, and Leg 1 begins on October 28.