Follow the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean, NOW!

It’s Monday morning and it looks like the bulk of the 80+ boats that are participating in this year’s Salty Dawg Fall Rally to the Caribbean will soon be underway and heading out to see.

And, as each participating boat carries a unit to transmit their position, you, like me and others that are “armchair sailors” this winter or those who have access to the Internet, can follow the fleet, in real time, as they make their way south.

There are three destinations for the rally, and in alphabetical order, Antigua, Bahamas and the BVIs.   Of course, as fleet captain for Antigua, I am all about making that destination the best of the bunch.

One way or the other, through the support of Ocens Satelite Systems, you can log into the Salty Dawg Rally page (SDR) to see the location of every boat in the fleet.  As of now, there are only a hand full of boats underway but the current weather looks like the bulk of the fleet will be underway in the next day or so.

I encourage you to open the SDR tracking page in your browser and follow along. Below is a screen shot of the page you will pull up, taken this Monday morning.  As a point of reference, the “green” boat, Willow, left earlier than the most of the fleet and is now in a good position to carry pretty good winds all the way to Antigua.     Several other boats, Quetzal and Ariana also left earlier and have stopped in Bermuda.  I expect that they will head out again soon.

In order to see the fleet, put SDR in the “group” area, on the left side of the screen and put the date range that you wish to see below that.  You can also choose how speed is displayed by choosing “KN” for Knots, as an example.   You can also choose to see only one particular boat by selecting that under “name”.  Anyway, it’s fun, so check it out.   BTW, the page works best on a Tablet as it’s easier to “pinch” the screen to see the area that you are interested in.
In the next few days you will see many more boats, and the screen will get really crowded with tracks, as others head out.

Most of the fleet opted to wait a few days before heading out as the winds were not particularly favorable, especially for crossing the Gulf Stream.   As a result, some headed down the Intra Coastal Waterway to Beaufort to depart from there once the wind was from a more favorable direction.   Another benefit of being in Beaufort is that it is south of Cape Hatteras and also a lot closer to the Gulf Stream so they won’t have to go as far to cross it and be in calmer waters.

The GS is a particularly nasty place to be when the wind is out of the North East, which is what’s been going on.  This GRIB file shot shows the winds as of a few days ago.  Note that the wind “flags” show wind in the teens from the NE.   You do not want to be in the “stream” when the wind is from that direction.  It kicks up waves that can be at least unpleasant or dangerous.  Below is what the wind forecast looks like for today, a lot better than from the NE even though the wind is from the south and much stronger. Not ideal as they really want to be heading south themselves and east is out of the way.  However, going east before heading south is a good idea as the winds will likely be from the east as their trip progresses.

The plan for most, I’d assume, will be to head east until the wind shifts more to the east and then turn south.  Actually, that’s exactly what Willow has done, now that the winds where he is are from the east, as is shown on the Ocens chart that I put above.

So, back to Antigua and the destination for about half of the fleet.  As port captain for Antigua, I have worked hard to arrange a number of events to make the fleet’s arrival in Antigua fun for everyone and with the help of local businesses and particularly the Antigua Yacht Club, there’s a great lineup planned.

While these events have been organized with rally participants in mind, I am happy to have other cruisers, that’s you, join us in the fun.  There’s no extra charge for “non-members” to come to our events this year so if you are planning to be in Antigua, please join us.   We’d love to get to know you.  I put an overview of what’s in store in an earlier post back in August.

Click here to see a full list of activities that we have planned.

There’s dinner events, happy hour mixers and even an opportunity to join in the fun with one of my favorite groups, The Antigua and Barbuda, Royal Navy Tot Club.  Just try saying that three times fast after a healthy “tot”, or two of fine rum.  Join us and you’ll see for yourself.

One way or the other, please stay in touch and follow the fleet.  Who knows, perhaps you’ll catch the bug and be one of us next year.  For sure, Pandora will be making the run south to Antigua with the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean next fall.   I’d imagine that the registration for the 2019 rally will be opening in January.

Want to go to Antigua?  It’s not to early to begin planning for next year or to follow this year’s fleet.    And, if you go, you’ll see fabulous sunsets like this, nearly every night.  Perhaps you’ll even see the fabled “green flash”.  We have, more than once, actually.

Want to learn more?  Let me know, I’m all about Antigua.

Oh yeah, if you want to see what’s in store if you decide to cruise to Antigua and the islands south to Grenada, you can register here to see a free webcast that I did recently for the Seven Seas Cruising Association.

You’ll be glad you did, I hope.

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