Nearly all of the 78 vessels and over 300 sailors in the Fall 2015 Salty Dawg fleet have now arrived in the BVI and Bahamas. With the unusual weather pattern this year offering limited windows for departure, several boats left around November 1st, a few cast off shortly after, most of the rest of the fleet departed around November 11th, and the final two boats left November 28th – a very broad window. The early boats had some windward work and a sporty crossing of the Gulf Stream, as Chris Parker warned them they would. Other vessels chose to wait for more favorable conditions, and departed later with mostly downwind sailing. And, the last boats are finding almost no wind, and a lot of motoring.
The 2015 Fall Rally was another successful and fun event by the Salty Dawg Rally, with wide acclaim from those who participated. The Fall Salty Dawg Rally was once again by far the largest rally from the east coast of the US, clearly the choice of blue water sailors.
The Arrival Dinner at the Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda was held November 22nd, with a lively array of sailors who had participated in the Rally. At the Dinner, the entire fleet was congratulated for their fine seamanship and accomplishment of a passage that can be challenging at this time of year. This year’s El Nino effects led to high pressure systems passing further south than normal, with east winds as far north as 26 degrees, and large areas of high pressure with low wind. Additionally, the energy from these systems led to stalled low pressure troughs just north of the Caribbean that at times had tropical characteristics. These challenges led to Chris Parker working long hours for the Salty Dawg fleet, supporting the AM weather Nets, the PM special Salty Dawg Net, and the special Salty Dawg daily email weather updates. So the fleet was well informed of weather issues, and Chris’s expertise was on full display as he guided vessels around weather systems, and prepared them for the strong squalls that popped up north of the tropics from time to time, and that have continued for the entire month of November.
Awards were presented to True Love IV for their efforts in assisting Aviva to free their prop from fishing net material snagged hundreds of miles offshore, and to Growl Tiger for their determined efforts to secure a damaged rig after a rig fitting failure (which failed despite a professional inspection prior to departure). Unable to sail after the failure, they motored much of the trip to get well east of a tropical weather feature, and then successfully executed a mid-ocean fuel transfer from a freighter to be able to motor the rest of the way to the BVI.
A ‘Thank You’ skit focused on acknowledging Bill & Linda Knowles for their extensive efforts on behalf of the Rally and the entire fleet. Bill and Linda were delayed due to fuel issues and couldn’t be at the Arrival Dinner. They have now departed Hampton, VA and are expected to arrive in the BVI about December 6th. After the skit the sailors on hand all rose to give Bill & Linda a well-deserved extended applause as a thank you for their amazing efforts – the chorus and applause lasting for many minutes.
While also not in attendance at the Salty Dawg Arrival Dinner, Chris Parker received extensive applause from all the sailors – his hard work and sage advice proved he is at the top of his game.
While two boats ended up close to Tropical Storm Kate because they hadn’t tuned in to Chris or the Rally for two days, and had departed against the strong advice of the Rally, they listened intently to his guidance once the Rally was able to reach these crews. Chris carefully guided these vessels to safe locations away from the worst of the storm, and they arrived in fine order in the BVI.
After the fleet’s arrival in the BVI, the fun continues with extensive camaraderie, a morning Salty Dawg Rally North Sound VHF Net (now in its third week), shared happy hours (15 and counting), day excursions to points of interest or a group lunch at a scenic stop, Thanksgiving Eve at The Fat Virgin Café, pot-luck Thanksgiving on the beach, SDR-only yoga at the BEYC each morning, and of course the Arrival Party. And coming up December 10th will be the SDR party at the Bamboushay Café, with world renowned Foxy entertaining and BVI dignitaries again welcoming the Salty Dawgs to their shores – the Salty Dawg fun continues. And the strong bonds formed from the Rally and these social events lead to numerous impromptu gatherings throughout the Virgins, the Caribbean and even into the Pacific. Safety, fun, camaraderie, and seamanship – all hallmarks of the Salty Dawg Rally.
The Salty Dawg Rally is comprised of sailors who have offshore sailing experience, many with ocean crossings, and some with a circumnavigation under their belt. Many have done this same passage 10, 12 or more times, and several in the fleet are licensed professional captains. The more experienced members of the fleet volunteer valuable advice to those who have done only a few offshore passages. Additionally, the Rally offers extensive World-Class seminars, demonstrations, articles and checklists. Individual captains make their own decision on when to depart and the route to take, with strong input from the Rally, Chris Parker and the more experienced sailors in the fleet. While most listen to these recommendations and input, human nature and outside schedule pressures lead some to leave when experts suggest waiting. Nonetheless the Rally supports all the vessels, and is pleased the fleet has arrived safely.
Over 470 boats and more than 1,880 sailors have now participated in the Salty Dawg rallies since the nonprofit organization was founded. The Rally provides an extensive range of support and services at no cost to participants due to the many seasoned blue water sailors who volunteer their time to staff the rally and the generously donated time, products, services and funds from over 40 sponsors. It is a tremendous value. Choose the Salty Dawg Rally