Experienced Cruisers Rally from the Bay to the Caribbean
The 19th annual North American Rally to the Caribbean (NARC) departs Saturday, October 28 (or the best weather window after that date) from Newport, RI. First organized in 2000, the NARC Rally is now a free cruising rally. Organizers encourage boats that are heading south anyway to join together for the socials, discounts, and relative safety of knowing others in the fleet are out there.
Organizer Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities says, “Boats are invited to depart from the Chesapeake Bay to join the NARC Rally in Bermuda and sail south to St. Maarten with their fleet. They would leave about the same time as the Newport fleet on a good weather window. The distance from Newport and the Chesapeake Bay to Bermuda is about the same. An advantage of making a stop in Bermuda is that you can get a pretty reliable four- to five-day weather window, which is how long it will take to sail to Bermuda; but it is hard to get an accurate seven- to nine-day weather window which is what the direct route from the Chesapeake to the Caribbean will take.”
The advantage to the southern departure point is you will be across the Gulf Stream by the end of the first 24 hours, so you can plan a sprint across and get the crossing over with right at the start of your voyage.
In the spring, NARC participants sail north the first weekend in May to be back in the United States by Memorial Day. Any boats are welcome to depart with the group from St. Maarten and make a stop in Bermuda and then clear customs in Newport. There is no fee for the return passage.
The NARC rally is geared more toward larger boats and professionally crewed boats and experienced skippers. Smaller boats and less experienced skippers are encouraged to join the Salty Dawg Rally departing from the Chesapeake. Rally benefits include: discounted dockage, weather routing, radio net, fuel discount, no head tax in Bermuda, and a fish fry in Bermuda.