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Rallies and Pink Ribbons

Pretty in Pink – Sint Maarten Sunset Cruise in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness. Photo: GaryBrown/OceanMedia

If, over the next few weeks, you climb up to the crow’s nest and scan the horizon with your telescope the chances are that the sailboat bobbing around in your lens is taking part in a Caribbean Rally. The ever increasing popularity of long distance sailing rallies, some of which take voyagers around the world, borders on the phenomenal with organizers filling their books well in advance while adding names to their waiting lists. Having reported on the various rallies for a number of years, it never fails to amaze me how they have evolved, how they have grown and how organizers never stop tweaking and refining their events by offering more and more every year. Yes, some rallies are now big business but not all of them. Like everything else in sailing, there is something to suit everyone. Perhaps families benefit the most from joining an organized flotilla, reasons being that the safety standards required before they are allowed to sail, and the support offered along the way, eliminates skippers (and overenthusiastic dads) who go to sea with a leaking boat and an old school atlas for a chart. If you think I am exaggerating, then think again. During my Atlantic wanderings I met such people, let’s call them adventurers. One in particular comes to mind. I met him in Gibraltar where he had washed up from who knows where. Gibraltar, like other ocean crossroads, is a dream breaker where many boats are sold cheap. My friend, who was terrific company on a night out but couldn’t sail or navigate worth a damn, bought himself one of these cheap boats. He loaded it up with rice and beans and a school atlas he got from a book swap and set of for the Caribbean. His plan was to hug the African coast until he was opposite the Canary Islands and then turn west for Lanzarote. He would know where he was because he’d go ashore and ask. I wasn’t the only one who tried to dissuade him, but he was having none of it. The North African coast is low and treacherous with shallows running miles out to sea. Most pilot books tell you to avoid it and some sailing instructions recommend boats heading for the Canaries from Gibraltar stay at least 40 miles off. Now this makes it difficult if your only means of navigation is to shout for directions from an Arab herding his camels along the beach. The offshore sandbank, when he hit it, grabbed his keel. The breaking waves did the rest. He related this story to me years later in the Caribbean where he was working as a charter boat skipper while praising the Atlantic Rallies of which, after his meeting with the shifting sands of the desert, he had taken part in three.

Early in October I had the pleasure of joining an amazing group of people during a ‘Pink’ Sunset Cruise for Breast Cancer Awareness. The event was organized by Aqua Mania in Sint Maarten, and featuring three day-charter catamarans, two from Aqua Mania’s fleet: Lambada and Tango, and the Golden Eagle of Golden Eagle Tours. I was asked if I would contribute to the cruise by taking along my camera and shooting lots of pictures that could be used to promote next year’s event. With around 180 people all wearing pink T-shirts and in some cases pink wigs, there were plenty of photo ops and I had a blast. The reason I mention it is that if you or your organization are thinking of running a fundraiser with a nautical or beach theme then we would be happy to list the occasion in our Calendar of Events, both online and in the magazine. Just drop a note to [email protected] and I will take it from there. You need to get your information to me at least eight weeks in advance of the event to make this work.

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