Middletown, Rhode Island (USA) – The Salty Dawg™ Sailing Association has completed its 7th Annual Fall Rally to the Caribbean. The fleet departed from Hampton, Virginia in early November for one of two destinations – the Bahamas or Falmouth Harbour, Antigua.
After about 1500 miles and more than 10 days at sea, 55 of the 71 boats participating in the rally came together for up to 10 days of celebration and camaraderie in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. “The Antigua destination was a first for the Salty Dawg Fall Rally,” said Rick Palm, Director of Rally Management. “Our usual hosts in the British Virgin Islands were not prepared to greet the fleet this year due to damage caused by Hurricane Irma,” he added.
The participating boats were diverse and crews ranged from couples to groups of four or five. The smallest boat in this year’s fleet was a Caliber 40; the largest was a Hylas 70. About 40% of the boats had participated in at least one Salty Dawg Rally in the past. Approximately 55 monohulls and 16 catamarans entered this year’s event.
Adding some “interest” to the run south was a persistent trough lying perpendicular to the course. A large windless area stretching hundreds of miles was punctuated by a band of squalls with winds spiking up to 30 knots.
“As we approached Antigua, the last two days presented us with steady trade winds, just as we had hoped. After four Salty Dawg rallies, I appreciate just how much the same, and how incredibly different, these passages are,” said Bennett Kashdan, skipper of Pratique, an Outbound 46.
Under the direction of Fleet Captain Bob Osborn who sailed Pandora, an Aerodyne 47, in the Rally, Antigua Yacht Club, Nelson’s Dockyard, and other featured locations hosted happy hours, dinners, and special events for the fleet. On hand for the festivities at the Antigua Yacht Club to welcome the Salty Dawgs was Antigua Minister of Tourism Henry Charles Fernandez and AYC Commodore Franklyn Braithwaite.
“We had cocktail parties, a welcome dinner and cookouts on the beach with something going on nearly every day and sometimes two events in a single day. New friendships were forged and old friends were reunited. For some, this rally is just the beginning of a voyage for several years to distant lands that may take them west to the Panama Canal, into the Pacific and wherever the winds and their whims may carry them. For others, a season in the Caribbean is a life long dream come true,” Bob Osborn said.
Boats heading to the Bahamas went to Green Turtle Cay and enjoyed their arrival dinner at Bluff House on November 9.
Many boats from the Fall Rally will gather with other Caribbean cruisers to participate in the Salty Dawg Spring Rally back to the U.S., leaving Falmouth Harbour, Antigua in mid-May.