And they’re off! The Salty Dawg Rally to Antigua begins.

After months of planning and a never ending series of questions about what the state of the pandemic will be in the Caribbean, the Salty Dawg Rally is underway, with most boats leaving from Hampton VA this morning.   Most of the 50+ boats are heading to Antigua with some opting to head to the Bahamas and a few to other destinations.

Chris Parker of Marine Weather Center, is the official weather router for the rally and has been doing daily video briefings for skippers and crew for the last week to help everyone understand when it would be safe to leave for the run south.

I have not been privy to the details of these discussions except to say that the weather systems that boats will encounter are complex, not unlike departures in prior years when I participated in the rally, when we all spent the days leading up to departure not sure exactly what we would be getting ourselves into when we headed out.

This is a shot of the Predict Wind tracking map from this morning showing that a good number are heading out as I write this.    Most of the boats are leaving from the Hampton VA area, with a few from Beaufort, just south of Cape Hatteras.   As you can see by the box, the wind speed is in the low 20s out of the west, north west, a good point of sail and the boats should make good time, at least for the moment as conditions will surely change as they make their way south. And, there is a lot going on weather-wise, with yet another late season hurricane off of Honduras.   The blue areas have light wind and dark red, lots…

See a mark, again with the box indicating moderate trade winds from the east, Antigua, the destination for the bulk of the fleet.  I hope to be able to provide more commentary in the coming days and will follow weather alerts from Chris to share what I can regarding the conditions that the fleet is experiencing along the way.   I clipped these images from my iPad but they don’t offer as much functionality as you will get on a PC, where there is a list of individual boats along the border so you can more easily see who is who.

I encourage you to follow this link, now and often, to keep track of who is where and how fast they are going.   By placing your courser over any given boat, you can see what their speed, lat/lon and direction are.  And, the same applies to wind speed and direction as I have noted on the image above.

So here I sit in my office on election day and I have to say that with all the negativity in that “race”, I am happy to focus on the Dawgs heading south for the winter.

As we sit here in the US, with infections on the rise and months cooped up inside, the Salty Dawg Fleet heading to Antigua, is going to what is arguably a better place for the season. I’m jealous.

Skippers and crew have followed a detailed quarantine and testing regime, preparing for departure to ensure that everyone remains safe and arrives in Antigua free of infection.    And, with a mind toward keeping everyone safe, as Port Officer for the rally in Antigua, I have organized a long list of arrival events to help everyone feel welcome in Antigua.   Click here to see what’s in store when they arrive. 

After so many months of planning, it’s exciting to say.  “And they’re off!”

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