Caribbean 1500 Heads Offshore After Hurricane Kate Delay

11 November 2015

On Sunday morning, the disturbance in the tropics that we here at the rally office and WRI, our weather forecasters, were monitoring, officially became Tropical Storm Kate, and suddenly our decision to delay was vindicated. Despite the cabin fever that was about to set in, the fleet was supportive.

So for two days, we waited. Mostly in the rain. Quite serendipitously however, we managed to pull together a pretty good delayed-departure program, including extra seminars, a fantastically fun trivia night, and a visit to the USCG’s District 5 Command Center. 

On Saturday morning (the delay was made official Friday evening) Mia, Jake, Lyall and myself took the starting line with 8 other rally participants at the first-ever USCG 5k run in town. The event began literally right behind Ocean Marine Yacht Center, so it was a no-brainer to participate, despite the fact that none of us rally staff have run in months. Along with almost 200 other runners, the gun went off and we took to the course.

Despite the lack of training, three of the 1500 representatives medaled! Mia took 3rd in the Female 30-39 age group; I managed a 9th overall and 2nd in the Male 30-39 age group; and Howard from Misto trumped us all by winning the Male 60-69 age group!

Anyway, at the finish line, I happened to meet Rear Admiral Stephen Metruck and his wife, who is an avid sailor. He had also run the event, and as commander of the 5th District, invited us to come have a tour with the rally participants on Monday, due to our delay.

Three groups were offered tours inside the facility, the central location for Search and Rescue operations from New Jersey to North Carolina and halfway across the Atlantic. Admiral Metruck was on-hand to guide the tour, and all of the dispatchers inside were super friendly and informative. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that for the past two years, the USCG has actually had one monitor in their command center dedicated to the YB Tracking page on the rally website. Unbeknownst to us, they’ve had a watchful eye on the fleet all this time!

Monday’s delayed program concluded with a very amusing Trivia Night at Roger Brown’s, where Mia, Jake and I made up 20 nautical-themed trivia questions and bought all the teams a round of beers. Yves Gelinas from Jean du Sud, by his lonesome, was the unanimous winner, with Team Isbjorn and Team Annabella taking second and third respectively.

With the weather forecast to clear Tuesday afternoon and overnight, crews started getting antsy and dock lines started to come off. Libelle was the first yacht to depart, with J/World Annapolis’ Kristen Berry and owner Dan piloting the big cat out of the Bay and towards Marsh Harbour. They are one of six boats headed that way with the ARC Bahamas fleet.

Officially, the starting line didn’t open until Wednesday at midnight, but that didn’t stop some in the Open class from getting a head start. Moonwave, the Gunboat 60 headed to Tortola, followed shortly after Libelle and a handful of others followed suit.

Isbjorn, Mia and my Swan 48, departed last night at 10pm, hoping to cross the Bay Bridge-Tunnel just at midnight to be counted in the Cruising division results. We were there on the dock to see them off and it was hard to watch them pull away knowing I wouldn’t be on the boat. But she’s in good hands, skippered by Paul Exner and my dad Dennis, with Mia’s sister Lisa joining the crew. They’re rounded out by retired Senator Tom Harkin, Walter Rush and Rik Van Der Vaart,

Isbjorn, to my chagrin, was the first boat to report a ‘casualty’, so to speak. Shortly after leaving the marina, Tom cut his finger badly enough to require stitches. They made a slight detour into Little Creek where Tom was treated. He was back aboard and Isbjorn headed offshore by 0600 this morning, so in the end it was a minor injury and a short delay.

The last yachts left Ocean Marine Yacht Center by 0800 this morning. Big Frisky, an Outbound 46, is the only yacht that remains, delayed here waiting for parts to repair their engine. Despite the setback, Kurt and Pam seem upbeat and are confident they’ll cast off in the next day or two.

Rally staff is scattered around the world now. Lyall Burgess, one of our safety inspectors who flew out from Hawaii, is back home with his wife and two girls. Peter Burch, the head inspector, is heading south on a yacht delivery to Florida. Jake Albano was asked to sail onboard the Tayana 55 Karina with Miles & Anne Poor yesterday after they had a crewmember drop out at the very last minute, so he’s at sea. Mia and I remain ashore and will continue to monitor the fleet and send daily weather reports. We fly to Tortola on Friday to start preparing for the fleet’s arrival and set up the program in Nanny Cay Marina.

Follow the fleet on