All Boats Have Completed Caribbean 1500 / ARC Bahamas 2016!

18 November 2016

Passion Place pulled into Nanny Cay Marina last night to raucous applause, loud toots from the airhorn and a rowdy crowd lined up on the dock. All this, despite their 2am arrival time…But with their successful completion of the rally, all boats have now arrived into Nanny Cay safe and sound and the yellowshirts can breathe a sigh of relief.

“I think this might be the first time in my tenure as event manager that every single boat completed the passage, including the ARC Bahamas guys,” said co-Event Manager Andy Schell. “Upward Wing made it around to New Orleans after having departed with ARC Bahamas, who wrapped up their rally last week. And now with Passion Place and RC Wings arriving yesterday, we’re all here in the BVI. I’ll sleep better now!”

Passion Place took the scenic route in getting here, even joking on email yesterday morning that they were enjoying the ‘Caribbean 1700,’ a reference to the added miles they sailed to avoid some weather.

“We went east, all the way to 65W as the traditional sailing directions dictate,” offered skipper Scott earlier this morning. “But then just got hammered by the second weather system that setup near Bermuda. My crew insisted on getting back west to get into easier weather, and we wound up closer to Puerto Rico than the BVI yesterday morning!”

Despite the added miles, Scott & crew arrived into Tortola with nothing but smiles on their faces, happy to be here to join the rest of the gang.

They had a warm welcome. Last night’s happy hour at Mulligan’s near the entrance to Nanny Cay Marina went late, and eventually spilled over to the Beach Bar. The beer was flowing and the crews were exuberant, all excited to stay up and greet the rally’s final arrival. By 2am, not a lot of people could see straight, but that just made for a more exciting entrance for Scott and crew on Passion Place!

“We’re feeling it this morning,” said Dennis on Sojourner. “One of our crew Chris is still asleep on the boat and it’s already 9am. I couldn't bear to wake him up!”

Yesterday’s annual ‘Passage Debrief’ seminar was the most low-key in recent memory. Some 30 skippers and crew assembled on the deck overlooking the beach at Nanny Cay to share stories and learning experiences from the long passage.

“Experience in a vacuum isn’t much use to us,” said Andy Schell, who moderated the discussion. “We have to analyze that experience in hindsight - see what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we can do better next time.”

The talk was low-key this year because there simply wasn’t much drama this year offshore, exactly as a successful passage should be. A few boats reported some minor gear breakages, crew seasickness and challenges with the weather, but nothing too serious. Several boats towards the back of the fleet recorded wind gusts in the second weather system in the 50-knot range, but they were short-lived and people were prepared.

Finally, it seems, rally crews are heeding the advice of experience ocean sailors who run the event each year and taking the time to truly prepare themselves and their boats.

Tonight’s prizegiving marks the end of the 2016 Caribbean 1500, a bittersweet moment for many in the fleet, and indeed the organizers.

“This is my last year as Event Manager,” said Andy Schell. “It was awesome to get to sail the rally for the first time on my own boat,” he continued, “and Lyall and Isabelle have been hugely helpful in filling in for my while we were at sea. I hope to be back in some role next year, but look forward to getting out on the high seas aboard Isbjorn, our Swan 48!”

As for the rest of the sailors, many will return home for Thanksgiving and the holidays before returning to spend the winter cruising the Caribbean. Others, like Joe Reed on Altair, featured in today’s Feature Story, is headed to St. Lucia for the start of World ARC in January. He’ll be joined by a handful of other 1500 boats who are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime and sailing around the world.

Stay tuned later tonight for the final results of the prizegiving, including the competitive Cruising Division results and the fun and special prizes that make the rally the fun event that it is!