Sailing offshore with company continues its popularity as rallies from the U.S. and Europe will bring nearly 500 yachts to the Caribbean for the winter season – or longer. Here’s the scoop on what’s happening, when and from where:
North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC)
Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO)
Departure: October 29, 2022
Newport, RI to St. Maarten
Twenty boats are sailing as part of the Newport NARC fleet, says Hank Schmitt, NARC founder, and chief executive officer of OPO, based in Halesite, NY. “There will be another 20 boats planning to arrive from the Chesapeake Bay as part of the new options going forward to allow boats to make an official stop in Bermuda. There are benefits to sailing east first and then reaching down to the Caribbean. I am excited to have more boats stopping in Bermuda.”
In St. Maarten, festivities include the NARC Party at IGY’s Isle Del Sol Marina on November 19. This kicks off a special week of activities that includes a bus tour of the island, Topper’s Rum Tour, Casino Bingo, and closing Thanksgiving Meal.
Salty Dawg Sailing Association
Departure: November 1, 2022
Hampton, VA and Newport, RI to English Harbor, Antigua
“The rally is a sell-out with over 125 boats. Most will leave from Hampton but a number, along with those in the NARC fleet will be heading out from Newport,” says Bob Osborn, president, rally director, and Antigua port captain.
This is the first year the SDSA has had two start venues. One reason is the number of participants. The SDSA Caribbean Rally is now the largest organized flotilla of cruisers leaving from the U.S. East Coast en route to the Caribbean in the fall. Those leaving from Newport will make a short stop in Bermuda on the way.
“We welcome all cruisers that wish to learn more about Salty Dawg to join us at our events in Antigua. We’ll host nearly 20 of them during the arrival period beginning on November 12th,” invites Osborn.
Many of these events are free, low-cost, or reasonably priced. They include an arrival dinner, cocktail and pool parties at the Admiral’s Inn, a hike around Nelson’s Dockyard guided by a naval historian, Pigeon Point beach get-togethers, a Shirley Heights BBQ and steel pan evening, and a special ceremony with a dram of rum for all adults in attendance hosted by the Royal Navy Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda.
Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
World Cruising Club (WCC)
Departure: November 6, 2022
Gran Canaria to Grenada
Departure: November 7, 2022
Las Palmas to St. Lucia
ARC January 2023
Departure: January 15
Las Palmas to St. Lucia
Three routes, one rally spirit is how Sarah Collins, communications manager for the Cowes, UK-headquartered WCC describes the upcoming ARC. “Each fleet for the three departures features the classic ARC mix of old-hand and new ocean sailors.
Cruising couples, hardy racers, family boats, and crews of friends all feature, with the international flavors of the ARC, maintained with multiple nations coming together for the shared ocean crossing experience. With a proportion of participants forced to delay their Atlantic adventure due to the pandemic in previous years, the atmosphere of excitement before the start in Las Palmas, and warm welcome in the Caribbean will be as electric as ever!”
The participation statistics are astounding and underscore the popularity of the ARC, which first started nearly four decades ago. Combined, 295 yachts are registered of which 75 are multihulls. The smallest is Oberoi, a Vancouver 28, sailing on the ARC, while the largest, Australian Marcus Blackmore’s Southern Wind 96, Ammonite, is also sailing in the traditional ARC. Crews range from age 2 to 80, representing 32 nationalities.
The newest of the ARC events is ARC January 2023.
“This new route option was launched in response to unprecedented demand,” says Collins. ARC January allows crews to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Europe before setting off on an Atlantic adventure. ARC January will follow the classic tradewinds route and boats can expect a fast passage in well-established trade winds, with less risk of calms during the crossing.”
Departure: January 6, 2023
Gran Canaria to Grenada
The Viking Explorers rally hit capacity this past summer with 25 boats, 17 monohulls, and 8 multihulls, with crews from 15 nationalities. Nineteen entries are already signed up for 2024. The January timing is due to more reliable tradewinds.
“The big announcement of Viking Explorers 2023 is that Clarke’s Court Rum from the Grenada Distillery has become the third official arrival host/sponsor together with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Camper & Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina,” says Carlota Texeira, who handles public relations. “Once in Grenada, participants will enjoy several activities organized in collaboration with the Grenadian Authorities and local businesses. The Grenada Yacht Club offers a welcome party. We also have a visit to Budget Marine, the official supplier of the rally, and the boatyard Spice Island Marine. To finish the event, the Official Welcome party and fun prize giving will be held in True Blue Bay Resort and Marina.”