Tough Start for Salty Dawg Fleet
At least five boats in the Salty Dawg Rally were forced to withdraw in the space of 36 hours as a result of a number of rudder or rig failures. One of the five was abandoned and one sailor reportedly broke his arm. The rest of the 116-boat fleet is continuing on to the BVIs, with many laying over in Bermuda, waiting for the weather to subside.
Though the official start date of the Salty Dawg Rally was November 4th, the philosophy of the rally holds that each skipper is responsible for their own schedule, so boats departed beginning November 2, on through today, November 8. Though the Rally’s Weather Router, Chris Parker, warned of a strong front passing over the mouth of the Chesapeake November 4 and 5, he couldn't have predicted the way the front slowed and grew more intense as it passed over the bulk of the fleet on Wednesday night and Thursday.
In the first case, crew aboard the 41ft sailboat, Ahimsa, sent out a distress signal via a satellite tracking device, stating they were taking on water 230 miles east of Virginia Beach and were in need of assistance. At approximately 0130, all four crewmembers were rescued by a Jayhawk helicopter and taken to Air Station Elizabeth City.
In the second case, crew aboard the 38-foot Nyapa, sent out a distress signal that they had lost their mast and were taking on water 275 miles east of Virginia Beach. The Coast Guard diverted from Ahimsa to search for Nyapa but after they were unable to locate the boat, they received confirmation that though Nayapa’s mast was lost, no one was injured and they were continuing south under auxiliary and no longer needed assistance.
In another case, a 67-year old man aboard Brave Heart reportedly broke his arm. The Coast Guard sent a lifeboat to attempt a medevac, but the weather conditions made it impossible to do so, and Brave Heart sailed on.
Finally, 100 miles east of Oregon Inlet, NC, the 54-foot Zulu, is reported disabled and adrift. The Coast Guard is setting up a tow to bring Zulu back to shore.
As for the rest of the Salty Dawg fleet, some are headed to Bermuda to lay over until the weather improves while the rest are carrying on to their final destination, the British Virgin Islands.
You can follow the fleet here