The 15 Annual North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) departs from Newport. R.I. on November 1, 2014 (or best weather window near that date.) First held in 2000, the “NARC Rally” is restricted to boats that are capable of getting to Bermuda in four or five days and are crewed by experienced sailors who have made the passage before. The event is 100% free and supports the annual migration of boats heading south from the U.S. East Coast, encouraging them to join together for socials, discounts and safety of traveling in a group.
“The NARC Rally is geared more towards larger, professionally crewed boats with experienced skippers,” said Hank Schmitt, the NARC’s organizer who is CEO of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO).“However, experienced private boats owners/crews are welcome to join as well, and for smaller boats and less experienced skippers/crews, we encourage them to join the “Salty Dawg Rally,” departing from Hampton Roads, Va. November 4. That way, they can spend September and October heading down to the Chesapeake and checking out their boat and systems while they are still close to land.
Schmitt added that all seaworthy boats are welcome to begin gathering in Newport the last week in October (no later than Thursday, October 30 for a party and skippers’ meeting the next evening) and stay at the Newport Yachting Center, which offers discounted dockage to Rally participants. In Bermuda, the fleet will be hosted by the St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club, which also discounts dockage and hosts a fish fry for participants. The IGY Marina Group is sponsoring the rally finish in St. Maarten with a final party and two days free dockage at Simpson Bay Marina plus a 10% discount thereafter for those who wish to stay longer. Other Rally benefits include weather routing, Radio Net for SSB, fuel discounts, socials in Newport, and the waiving of the head tax in Bermuda.
“The rally started as a way to move the Swan Charter Fleet south, and it has morphed into a much anticipated event for boats making the annual pilgrimage,” said Schmitt, adding that through his company Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), sailors who do not have a boat can be matched with a Swan or another Rally boat with a pro skipper to sail south with the fleet. Conversely, OPO can find qualified crews for Rally boats needing extra hands. OPO offers a free crew network service to crew that will sail for free and pay their own ways to and from the boats on which they are placed.