Last year, as many of you already know, I led the hugely successful ICW Snowbird Rally. Eighteen boats, seven dogs, three kids and a whole bunch of fun people headed south from Hampton VA, ending up in Miami FL seven weeks later. We had a great time.
This time around, we're going to do it even better.
This year's Sail to the Sun Rally will start a little sooner, so we can avoid some of the cold weather we experienced last year. That polar vortex chasing us south was cold!
At the Annapolis Boat Show, there will be a meet and greet for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant close by the show. A group of us did this last year and as those who were there can tell you, it was a great time.
The kickoff to the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally will be in Deltaville VA, one day's short sail out of Hampton VA. While there, the publisher of Waterway Guides, Jeff Jones, will host a reception and seminar, with time spent learning about the ICW from professionals and veterans of the route, and getting to know our fellow rally participants. This will be a very special event, I can tell you now, with lots of great people and information.
Then we head for Norfolk and the Dismal Swamp, the first stops on our way south, all the way to Miami.
There are some fun events planned already, and more in the works. Right out of the Albermarle, a lovely dinner and evening's entertainment, will be hosted by River Dunes Marina in NC. This marina has been named one of the top 25 marinas in North America - here's the article for you!
While at River Dunes, we'll be able to visit Oriental NC, a popular spot on the ICW - without having to fight the boater traffic and marina congestion that is typical of this time of year, especially in a small harbour such as Oriental.
There will also be evenings out for dinner at various stops along the way, potlucks on shore, and evenings shared with your new friends on board one another's boats.
Our major sponsor, Waterway Guides, will be providing an amazing swag bag for all participants - I won't tell you what will be in it, but it alone is worth the price of admission to this rally.
They've got a few other goodies lined up too, but I'm not going to spoil the surprise just yet. And I've got a couple of rabbits I plan to pull out of a hat for the group also. Stay tuned.
There will be significant discounts on dockage for rally members, and 10% or better savings on fuel costs at marinas on your trip south. That adds up to a lot of money you can save to spend on rum and fun in the islands.
Most importantly, you'll be getting professional advice and guidance on how to transit the ICW safely, comfortably and enjoyably. That means regular briefings on the more difficult areas and how to safely transit them, as well as on the spot guidance via VHF, text and celphone.
Our goal is not only to get you south safely and comfortably, but to help you learn what the cruising lifestyle is all about. If you need help, you'll get help, whether it's in figuring out how to provision, or setting an anchor, or docking practice. When we get the opportunity, further south, we'll do an offshore day to give you a taste of it in a group with others, so that when you are ready to head offshore, it won't all be a surprise to you.
Best of all, you'll be in the company of new and wonderful cruising friends, people whom you will keep in touch with for years to come, cruise with, share adventures with...
|Dismal Swamp Canal|
|at the Palace Saloon, Fernandina Beach, FL|
p.s. I'd especially like to welcome Steve and Barb Kurtzman, and Dave Pollock and Brenda Libby, who sailed with me on the 2014 Rally, to the 2015 Sail to the Sun Rally.
Thanks guys, for your trust and faith in joining up with me again for another great adventure. That's very special to me.
|Awards Ceremony, Coconut Grove, Miami|
|Akula, on the Pungo River|