On November 2nd more than 70 boats participating in the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean will leave Hampton VA to begin their 1,500 mile voyage to Antigua in the eastern Caribbean. After all of the damage wrought by hurricanes this season, it will be nice to visit an island that was spared any damage and to make the trip with so many friends.
While the nominal start date for the rally is November 2nd, each skipper will make their own decision on when to leave. Once underway, we will communicate with each other several times a day via SSB long range radio. Every boat will also be transmitting their location several times each day so that you can keep track of all the boats as they make their way to Antigua. I’ll be posting this shared page as we get closer.
For me, staying in touch with others in the fleet is a special treat as I am one of those guys who can’t stand to be disconnected from others for more than a moment. And, speaking of “connected”, you can track Pandora’s location all winter by clicking on “Where in the world is Pandora” on my home page.
When we learned that the BVIs, the traditional arrival point for the rally, was so devastated we had to find another spot to visit and as Brenda and as I had enjoyed Antigua last winter I put my hand up “Me! Me!, I’ll make arrangements for the fleet’s arrival in Antigua!” What in &^%$ was I thinking ? Oh well. So, here I am, “the guy” who everyone will look to and say “So Bob, are you going to make it worth our while to sail that additional 90 miles, all the way to Antigua?”. Yikes! The pressure is on but I can tell you with confidence that it’s going to be a wonderful time, and once we’re there the locals will wonder what happened and say in a loud voice and all together “Antigua is going to the Dawgs, totally!”. Works for me…
There are a few groups that have really put out for us (me) in helping with planning. In no particular order…
The Antigua Yacht Club in Falmouth Antigua, a wonderful, well protected harbor with loads of easy anchoring and great holding, has really rolled out the red carpet to make us feel welcomed and have invited us to many activities. It’s a very friendly club and they have even made their office manager Nesie available to be the “go to source” for our fleet in Antigua and she will answer any questions that our group might have. As an interesting anecdote, AYC is located near a megayacht marina owned by Carlo Falcone a member of AYC, who has registered his yacht, Mariella in the rally. As she’s home ported in Antigua, I don’t know if he’s planning to have her sail with us. She’s a classic Fife yacht from the 30s and in wonderful condition. As the largest yacht registered in the rally, that would make her “queen of the Dawgs”.
This video of the race on day one in the Classic Yacht Regatta in Antigua last spring gives you a pretty good feel for what’s in store in Antigua on the water. Who knows, perhaps I will be able to find my way on board Mariella. She actually was the overall winner of the regatta in 2017. That’s me, ever hopeful…Another group that has really put out is the Admiral’s Inn located in Nelson’s Dockyard, the traditional home of the British Navy in the day of Lord Nelson. They will be hosting the “arrival dinner” for us by their infinity pool overlooking the dockyard. It’s a wonderful spot to enjoy the sights. This is the view from where we will have our arrival dinner. Across the harbor is their main facility and hotel. Can you say “tropical paradise? They have even arranged for us to get very attractive pricing for those who want to stay ashore and take a break from life afloat for a bit. Brenda and I visited the inn a number of times last winter. The place looks wonderful after dark. The owners of the resort Astrid and her brother Paul have been tremendously helpful in helping me in putting together all the activities that we will enjoy when we arrive in Antigua. I found this video that gives a very good feel for their beautiful place.The director of the National Park, that oversees the Nelson’s Dockyard, Ann Marie was also really helpful and is even giving each of boats a free night of dockage when we arrive. She sent me this photo of the dockyard that as taken a few weeks ago. What would we do without drones? This is what the dockyard looks like before everyone shows up for the season.However, it’s not vacant in “high season”. This is how the dockyard looked when the Oyster World cruise visited a while back. And, I just learned that the dockyard hosts a blowout on New Year’s eve as well. Brenda and I will totally be there. We are looking forward to viewing fireworks in Antigua as we lounge on Pandora’s bow. I have to say that while it’s been a bit hectic putting together plans for everyone to enjoy their stay in Antigua. One of the best things about being on the font lines of planning for the rally is that I get to arrange the things that I want to do and being in Antigua is well, what I want to do.
Oh yeah, one more thing. There’s still a few weeks until we depart for Antigua and it’s not to late to sign up. I am confident that it will be the best $200 you even spent. Besides, that’s only 1/5th of a boat dollar. Such a deal!
For sure, it’s becoming clear that come mid November Antigua will be “going to the Dawgs”. Totally, for sure!