Adventures of the 2014 DelMarVa Rally

Sailing is often about the adventures you have and the people you meet, and this could not be truer for the participants of the 2014 DelMarVa Rally, which wrapped up on Saturday, June 14, in Annapolis, MD, with an awards ceremony and party for the cruisers.
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Sailing is often about the adventures you have and the people you meet, and this could not be truer for the participants of the 2014 DelMarVa Rally, which wrapped up on Saturday, June 14, in Annapolis, MD, with an awards ceremony and party for the cruisers.

The DelMarVa Rally was originally hosted by Spinsheet, a local Annapolis magazine, but was hosted by World Cruising Club (WCC) in association with Spinsheet for the first time this year. It’s a 450-mile week-long trip held annually in June that takes sailors of all experience levels around the DelMarVa Peninsula (that’s short for Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) from Annapolis, MD, to Portsmouth, VA, up the Atlantic to Cape May, DE, and back to Annapolis through the C&D Canal. Each leg provides a unique sailing experience: first sailors take on the Chesapeake, then head offshore and finish the rally by motoring through a narrow canal. Sailors typically spend a day or two at each location, where they meet up to re-provision, debrief, celebrate and check out each town.

According to the WCC, the Rally is ideal for sailors who are looking to get a taste of distance cruising without jumping directly offshore. Only the second leg is offshore, but the DelMarVa requires sufficient boat prep and typical bluewater skills, such as overnight sailing for longer, more challenging adventures. It’s also a good way to perform a shakedown before tackling the World Cruising Club’s Caribbean 1500, a rally that launches from Portsmouth, VA, and ends in Nanny Cay, Tortola.

For Robin and Gary Wells, who moved aboard Adagio, an Amel Super Maramu, the day before the rally this year, completing the DelMarVa was a way to learn the new boat. “We’re excited about being underway and to experience life on the water. Moving aboard has been a long-time dream for us,” said Robin.

Whether a racer, long-time cruiser or sailing newbie, this year’s DelMarVa Rally challenged every sailor that entered, with consistent 10-20 knot breezes on the nose, thick fog and Chesapeake Bay chop. Most boats motorsailed the majority of the course and there were a few weather delays. In the end, 18 of the 23 yachts finished the rally in its entirety.

As is often the case, sailors bonded together through the poor conditions. “We got tossed around out there, but we came here for an adventure and to meet people and that’s what happened,” said Tim Foster, skipper aboard Molly Kate, a Beneteau 321 and the smallest boat of the rally. “It was great seeing the DelMarVa flags flying from the masts and to know we were part of the community.”

To ensure safety and foster community, sailors kept in touch via VHS and daily radio nets, received daily weather reports from Andy Schell of WCC who also sailed the rally, had satellite tracking and received discounted dockage rates—all benefits of joining a rally. It wasn’t an official race, but boats won awards such as “Best Logbook” and “I’ll Never Do that Again.”

Though there was some friendly competition throughout the journey, the rally ultimately became about forging friendships and learning important lessons. “The coolest things have happened. I met some of these sailors last night and already feel like close friends,” said Robin. “Sure, we had our mishaps, but by sailing with everyone else, I’ve learned sailing tips and tricks, including what not to do on our boat. I’m incredibly grateful to have experienced this.”

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