Ok, ok, perhaps the headline for this post is a bit of an exaggeration but the Salty Dawg Rally to the Caribbean is gaining unprecedented interest.
In a “normal” year, as in “pre-pandemic” the rally generally had about 80-90 boats participating and even during the Covid years, in spite of all the restrictions, we still had 50 boats, pre-vaccination, and 80 last year in spite of boats facing pretty steep restrictions and a lot of unknowns in the islands.
This year however, is a LOT different with over 130 boats applying to join the rally. And, what’s even more interesting is the number of folks joining us that have never done a rally before, about half. Additionally, catamarans make up nearly half of the fleet, the largest percentage yet.
I’ll admit that if I was just moving into cruising now I would buy a cat and not a monohull as they are just so much more comfortable. I do worry about them in difficult weather as while they are indeed stable, once they start to go over, there is no stopping them and they don’t come upright again.
With so many more cats out cruising the ocean now, I expect that we will begin hearing more about them flipping, especially in the hands of cruisers that don’t have a lot of big boat experience. So many of the boats in the rally are owned by folks that moved up into much bigger upon retiring from their careers.
In the “old days” the transition to “big” was to purchase a boat, sail it for a few years and then sell it and get a somewhat bigger boat. Now it’s more like sail a small boat and when you retire, get a 40-50′ cat, and head out. This means that there are more boats out on the water with owners that haven’t had a lot of practical experience on the ocean, especially on big powerful boats.
I expect that this is contributing to a greater interest in Salty Dawg, an opportunity to have additional education and support at a very low price.
Where else can you get dozens of targeted webinars, 24/7 shoreside side support during the passage and a near instant community of cruisers to hang out with for about $300, the cost of the rally and SDSA membership combined?
I did an Antigua and eastern Caribbean webinar the other evening and we had about 200 attending. Additionally, as many more signed up than were able to watch the program when it was live, I expect that many more will look at the recording.
All of this is very rewarding to me as I have been “beating the drum” for years now to get folks to head to Antigua and now they are going. It feels great. Who wouldn’t want to make landfall at a place like this with dozens of your closest friends?I think that while a big part of all this is that many have emerged from the pandemic with a renewed belief that life is short and they want to use their remaining time wisely . And, as Salty Dawg has shifted to almost totally online presentations, the material is accessible to many more than could every participate at an occasional live event.
In many ways Salty Dawg has been helped by the pandemic and I’ll admit that it feels pretty good to be working with a group that is growing.
There weren’t many years in my career that saw things on the up and up for several years so this is a nice change of pace. I am under no illusion that the good times will continue for ever but it does feel like the renewed interest in cruising isn’t going to fizzle too soon.
The other night I did a presentation at our local yacht club and was astonished that nearly 70 showed up. It was a particular thrill to me as I had not given a presentation “in person” for several years and it was a treat to see “real” people.
Along with the talk about cruising the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, I hosted a “tot” featuring “official” rum from the Antigua and Barbuda Royal Naval Tot Club, of which I am a member.
The rum…The setup…The toast, following a reading of some brief passages from a book covering happenings on “this day in British Navy History”. Interestingly, that night, October was the anniversary of the opening of Nelson’s dockyard in 1725, the destination of the Salty Dawg Rally each year.I supplied the rum for the tot, brought to the US aboard Pandora, of course. And in spite of more than 60 taking part, it didn’t put much of a dent in my supply. I will admit that this is an alarming cache of rum by any standards. Don’t worry, I a plan to give a lot, well some, away. It was a wonderful evening and I do wish that I had taped the program as it’s the first one that I have done in a few years that hasn’t been “archived” for others to see.
No recent post would be complete without an update on the work being done on Pandora. The short update is that the work is mostly done, well all of the battery work and the installation of the wind generator are done, as of yesterday, nearly 17 weeks after being dropped in Deltaville in May.
That’s ridiculous, I admit but finally…
Today Brenda and I head to MD to see our son Rob’s family including our three wonderful grandchillen. I can’t wait.
On Monday I head to VA to bring Pandora up to Annapolis where there will be additional work done including some scratch repair on the hull, compliments of some small boys in Guadeloupe last winter and some work on the boom.
I’ll also be installing four new solar panels that should bring my solar capacity to a full 1,000 watts an increase from about 600 now. That combined with my newly installed wind generator will hopefully be able to feed my new lithium bank all winter.
Doesn’t this look great? I’m excited. And yes, I too am looking forward to “getting out of Dodge”. And I will, I hope.
For sure, I won’t be alone in Hampton with hundreds of my closest cruising friends. Annapolis first…
Fingers crossed… Wish me luck.