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Preparing for a Rally

What do I need?

To join a World Cruising Club rally, you will need a seaworthy boat.  We don't define the type of boat, but we do set some limits on boat length (see the FAQs in the rally pages), and we expect you and your boat to have completed an offshore passage in the year before the rally.

We do expect your boat to carry certain items of equipment, and that you understand how to use these.  This includes a list of mandatory safety equipment - see Safety - and also communications equipment.

One of the best ways of preparing for a rally is to talk to people who've done it, gather good advice and filter the thousands of words available online. Our webinars, Bluewater Open Days, Seminars and Cruisers' Question Times are a great way to learn from experienced cruisers in a supportive environment. Some of these events are free and all are open to anyone contemplating sailing across an ocean - you don't have to be on a rally to get the benefit. See the list of upcoming events.


We require boats to be able to send and receive emails at sea.  This can be done with a satellite telephone, satcoms (like Starlink) or with an SSB radio and Pactor modem.  We will send the weather forecasts, boat positions and important fleet information by email. 

We also require all boats to have an installed 25W DSC VHF radio and to have a waterproof handheld 5W VHF.

Increasingly, Starlink is enabling crew to have the same online experience as at home - uploading and downloading video and scrolling social media. A sat phone is now effectively complementary to Starlink - its not 'either or'. You can call home on Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp using Starlink, but having a mobile sat phone gives you options should you need to evacuate to a liferaft or simply take your equipment ashore or onto another boat. 

SSB radio is the traditional cruisers communication method, and is a great way to meet new people and gather cruising information.  If you are sailing round the world, or considering extended cruising, then SSB is useful and a sociable way to make connections at sea.  It is important to have it installed professionally, and to really understand how to use it - taking a course is a good idea. It it required equipment for World ARC.

AIS (Automatic Identification System)

A fixed AIS transceiver is required for all our rallies, and in addition, all crew must have an AIS personal locator beacon fitted to their lifejacket.

Preparing my boat

Almost any boat can become a successful ocean cruiser.  Most of the boats that take part in our rallies are standard production boats from well-known builders.  Almost more important than the boat itself is to check and double check every system for faults, and to spend time and money maintaining the boat and equipment.  Windflower III is a Bavaria 46 that has sailed over 60,000 miles with World Cruising Club rallies, including right around the world.

When you join a rally you will receive a Rally Handbook which is full of advice on preparing your boat, including step-by-step systems, deck and rigging checks.  Understanding how your boat works, and carrying a good supply of tools and spares will help you to be self-sufficient.  If you are not a natural 'fixer', then take a course or watch when your boat is serviced, and ask lots of questions.

There are some great books full of advice on maintaining your boat and her systems, so do some shopping.  We'll provide suggestions in the Rally Handbook, or visit our Shop.

Some of the important pieces of equipment you must have onboard include:

  • ISO 9650 Type 1 Group A liferaft with an over 24hr service pack
  • Crew overboard recovery equipment in specific combinations
  • Bilge pumps operable from on deck and below deck
  • Emergency pump capable of 200l/m (3200 gph)
  • Lifejackets with harness for all crew
  • Emergency grab bag
  • Double lifelines/guardrails around the entire deck
  • Emergency tiller
  • Proven method of emergency steering

For an up-to-date list, please see the Safety Equipment Regulations in your Rally Handbook or in the event information pack.

Life onboard

Life onboard your boat can be as comfortable or basic as you decide.  Some cruisers consider freezers, watermakers, generators and onboard entertainment to be essential, while others prefer a simpler life with windvane steering, no refrigeration and minimal electronics.  

It's your choice!  Think about how long you intend to be away cruising, and how you like to live.  If you want to have a shower every day, then a large capacity watermaker will be vital.  If you think you will only shower once or twice a week, then large water tanks and extra jerry jugs may be enough.

Whatever you do, don't set sail in a new boat, or with new equipment, and expect it to work faultlessly.  Every sailor experiences breakages and failures - some will be user error, some installation problems, and some manufacturer faults.  Take time to sail the boat and test the equipment thoroughly before you start a long voyage - it is easier to fix things in your home port, than at sea or in a foreign country!