2012 Cruising Rallies

Heading south this year? If you don't want to go it alone, there are plenty of options to cruise in company.

Caribbean 1500 boats at Nanny Cay, BVI
Boats participating in the Caribbean 1500 at Nanny Cay Marina, British Virgin Islands.Courtesy of the World Cruising Club

****Camaraderie, weather routing, competition, and discounted fuel and dockage are just some of the reasons why hundreds of sailors choose to cruise in company. Here are some of the rallies leaving this fall from the U.S. to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

Caribbean 1500
More than 1,200 boats and 5,000 ralliers have participated in the Caribbean 1500 since it began in 1990. This popular event leaves from Hampton, Virginia, on November 4, 2012, and heads down to either Green Turtle Cay (for ARC Bahamas participants) or Nanny Cay, BVI. The Caribbean 1500 attracts a diverse fleet of experienced sailors on racing designs, classic plastics, production cruisers, and multihulls. Kids and pets are also frequently aboard! Planning seminars are available as well as a pre-departure tutorial, and crew is available if needed.

North American Rally to the Caribbean
Leaving from Newport, Rhode Island, the NARC has the northernmost starting point, making it a more challenging undertaking. The fleet, which consists of professionally captained Nautor's Swan sailboats and experienced blue-water sailors, will set sail on November 1, 2012, and head to St. Martin with a stopover in Bermuda. For more information on the NARC, or for crew positions, contact Hank Schmitt at Offshore Passage Opportunities.

Salty Dawg Rally
Also leaving from Hampton, Virginia, on November 4, the Salty Dawg Rally is a low-key cruise in company that winds up in the BVI. Started last year by cruisers Bill and Linda Knowles, who sail aboard their Jeanneau 54DS Sapphire along with their salty dog Brie, the event continues to grow in popularity. The Salty Dawg Rally is free for participants and provides lots of perks and discounts.

Baja-Haha Cruisers Rally
This hugely popular event attracts more than 200 boats for an annual cruise down the West Coast from San Diego, California, to Cabo San Lucas at the end of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. The 750-mile downhill run is open to both sail and power boats that are longer than 27 feet, and there's two stops along the way that are timed so that even the slowest boats will have at least a day of R&R at each port. This year's Baja-Haha is the 19th annual rally and the boats depart on October 29. Social events at each of the stops ensure that a good time is had by all.
/