A bunch of Bay sailors are preparing to depart Annapolis on June 24 bound for Portsmouth, VA, on the first leg of the 2017 ARC DelMarVa Rally. The initial 130-mile leg follows the same route as the annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race and marks the first of three legs in the counterclockwise circumnavigation of the DelMarVa peninsula organized by the World Cruising Club (WCC).
From Portsmouth the fleet will embark on a 150-mile passage up the Atlantic with its next stop planned for the Delaware Bay. To finish the loop the fleet will transit the C&D Canal before returning to the Chesapeake and sailing south to Annapolis. In totalralliers will sail 450 nautical miles around the DelMarVa peninsula in one week’s time.
While the rally kicks off on June 24, organizers have planned flexible start dates for legs two and three to ensure favorable weather windows for the passages. Parties will open and close the rally, while two stopovers and a few fiestas will liven things up between each leg.
The rally attracts sailors of many different stripes. For some the rally encompasses a weeklong summer adventure. For others it represents a chance to gain experience for fueling dreams further afield. And for many it creates lifelong memories of bonding and camaraderie. Often, families and friends take on the challenge. Last year’s rally saw four father-son crews participate.
Isabelle Tremblay, organizer of the DelMarVa Rally for WCC, says that participants love the format of three 150-nautical-mile legs. There’s time to meet other sailors with a similar passion, time to listen to the recommendations and security advice from the WCC team, and time to get confidence in yourself and enjoy sailing.
As part of helping sailors prepare for their passage, WCC hosted an all-day seminar in Annapolis in April covering topics such as navigation, fuel management, sail selection, and setting up watch schedules. Boats also must meet required safety checklists and pass an inspection before heading offshore.
The rally’s social events also give sailors the opportunity to connect and learn from each other, all while enjoying themselves. Tremblay says, “You meet people who have the same passion and the same dream as you have. You become friends easily, and at the end of the rally, you usually feel sad you have to ‘split.’ Most of the people continue to see each other after the rally and crew on other boats in the Caribbean 1500.”
Tremblay said that for many rally participants, the DelMarVa circumnavigation is the first time they have sailed offshore. The rally provides a safe and fun experience for sailors to get a taste of ocean sailing. It also offers a terrific shakedown cruise for sailors preparing to sail to the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands in November. In a few words, then, for those looking for a little taste of blue water sailing, the DelMarVa Rally offers fantastic adventure and friendship. Follow the fleet here, starting June 24.
by Tracy Leonard