2022 NARC Rally Update

NARC 2022

The 22nd NARC will depart from Newport, R.I. on Saturday October 29 2022

The 1500-mile NARC started in 2000 when Schmitt organized 10 skippers and crew from his Offshore Passage Opportunities program to move a fleet of Swans from Newport, R.I. to the French side of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. With a departure date set for Newport in the Fall, he decided to invite other boats to join in an organized rally and has organized the annual passage ever since.

For more information on the 22nd NARC or opportunities through Offshore Passage Opportunities, please contact Hank Schmitt at:

 

  • Breaking News From Hank Schmitt

    The NARC (North American Rally to the Caribbean) and the Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) are coordinating to have a combined departure rally from Newport this Fall 2022.

  • Sign up for NARC 2022

    Register to join us on this year's journey from New Port to the Bermuda and St. Maarten. Boat fees range from $100 to $400 plus $150 per crew member to cover socials!

The NARC Rally will be helping the SDSA launch a new departure port from New England by merging their two rallies. They will join us departing from Newport RI. We expect the combined fleet to double from 20 to 40 boats this year. While still organizing and collecting rally fees separately this year, the intention is to have one event under the SDSA banner next year in 2023. Hank plans to continue entering his Swan Program into their event moving forward. This year we will they will be sharing the departure port, (The Newport Yachting Center), weather forecasting and support (Chris Parker and WRI), party venues (Benjamin’s) in Newport, The St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club in Bermuda, with the help of Bermuda Yacht Services. Rather than compete and make choices difficult for boat owners who just want to get south safely, we will work together. For boats based in New England and not living aboard full time, there is little reason to lose 200 miles of Easterly and travel to the Chesapeake Bay to depart for the Caribbean. They can now depart from Newport, sail to Bermuda and finish in Sint Maarten (SMX) or Antigua. Boats departing from the Chesapeake Bay will now have an option to officially stop in Bermuda and have the same welcome that the NARC Rally fleet has enjoyed for the past two decades. NARC Rally boats and boats departing from Newport can also finish up in Antigua directly from Bermuda or after a short stop in St. Maarten.

The main reason we are working to combine the SDSA and the NARC Rally is that Hank Schmitt just turned 64 years old and wants to stop running the rally since he never intended this to be a 25-year commitment??. This year will be # 22 or # 23 depending on your count of the covid year. (The Swan Program sailed south with three Swans during Covid but no in an organized NARC Rally.) The SDSA wanted to offer a Newport start. Our goal this year is to introduce them to all our contacts in Newport and Bermuda so they can organize the rally departure next year from Newport as well as the Chesapeake Bay. For the first time in SDSA history, Bermuda will become an official option for boats departing from the Bay and wish to make port in Bermuda for fuel or repairs or even a crew change. Or maybe they have never been there before and want to see Bermuda rather than sail non-stop to the Caribbean. It is easier to get an accurate 4 or 5-day weather window to get you to Bermuda than it is to get an 8 or 9-day weather forecast and make the passage non-stop. In future years Hank plans to join the rally with a small number of boats in the Swan Program and continue to make final port in SXM. This year I am calling it the NARC/SDSA Rally. Next year we will drop the NARC. If all goes well it will only be the SDSA Rally next year. I also plan to be able to offer my crew network to all the rally participants. The SDSA also has a crew network component, but I do not send out a “crew request” for just any boat so there may be some boats in the Rally that I Do NOT deem a good passage opportunity for my members. Since they have their own crew network, I do not feel obligated to get crew for just anyone who wishes free crew. My philosophy is if I would not join a boat that I do not think is seaworthy or had an experienced owner as skipper, then why would I encourage my OPO members to sail offshore with them? Some skippers may need to pay a skipper or crew if they lack the competency to put a safe program together. Hiring help may be their best insurance to getting to their final destination in good shape and is the reason some insurance companies are asking to see skipper and crew resumes before insuring a boat for an offshore passage.

Short SDSA History

Blue Water Sailing magazine had been a huge backer and driving force to getting The Caribbean 1500 Rally started in the 1990’s with founder with Steve Black. The British company World Cruising Club bought the Caribbean 1500 several ago and required a lot more safety gear and requirements that made it much more expensive to participate. They lost a large number of entrants who joined the new Salty Dawg Rally first organized by Linda and Bill Knowles to offer a more affordable and friendly offshore experience organized locally rather than from the UK. With the full backing of a Blue Water Sailing magazine, it was able to take over the American fleet departure from the Chesapeake Bay. The WCC cancelled their event this year.

Originally the Caribbean 1500 started from Newport and only Newport the first few years. Then Steve Black added a Chesapeake Bay start. In 1998 seven boats from the Swan Charter fleet signed up for the Caribbean 1500 start from Newport and went to Spanish Town Virgin Gorda. I was one of the skippers in that Swan fleet. In 1999 Steve dropped the Newport start and all the boats had to go to Hampton Virginia to join the only rally leaving from the US East Coast at the time. Since Steve dropped the Newport start and I took over the Swan Charter fleet Program in 2000, it was easy to invite private boats owners to join us to help create more passage opportunities for OPO members through my Offshore Passage Opportunities crew network.

Thus, the NARC Rally was born.

The rally was never about making money, but rather opening up more passage opportunities for members and also making it more fun for people who signed up in the Swan Program so they could meet more people doing what they aspire to do. Plus, the logical way to sail from the US East Coast is to sail to Bermuda first and then sail south down “I-65” rather than beat hundreds of miles into the SE trade winds by starting further south. I half-jokingly tell people that “God put Bermuda there for sailors sailing north and south and it is sin not to stop.” I am frustrated by insurance companies that tell boat owners that they cannot sail more than 250 miles offshore so some less experienced skippers have to sail back from the Caribbean via the Bahamas and take 6 weeks to make the passage rather than 10 days. Very silly. I also happen to think Bermuda is a very nice place to stop.

The other difference in the two rallies is their final ending destination. In the past both the Caribbean 1500 and SDSA Rally started from the Chesapeake Bay and ended in the BVI. Since the storm season in 2017 and covid the past two years the BVI have not been a very good place to make landfall in the Caribbean. Both the Caribbean 1500 and the SDRA moved to their final destination to Antigua. The biggest advantage that Antigua has over Sint Maarten is their 365 beached and better cruising options. Sint Maarten is the first island in the Eastern Caribbean when sailing from Bermuda. Antigua is about 80 miles further south and you pass SXM and St. Barts on the way.

The NARC Rally sails to Sint Maarten for the following reasons. 1) It is very easy to fly home from it has the biggest airport in the Caribbean with more direct and less expensive flights to more destinations. 2) The entire island is duty free which makes everything from provisions, labor and boat parts cheaper. The largest Budget Marine store in the Caribbean is in SXM and has competition down the road from Island Water World. There is also a two-story Ace Hardware Mega-Store. 3) Sint Maarten is great for getting your boat worked on and getting parts flown in without having to go to customs to pay a duty. After a long ocean passage in the fall there is always work to be done and a Caribbean season to get ready for. Many boat owners sail there boats south in November and then fly home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They come back after the December Christmas Winds have died down, and only then start exploring the rest of the Caribbean after the weather settles down. SXM is well situated to visit the rest of the Caribbean whether you turn downwind and go to the BVI and Puerto Rico or head south and close reach to points further south.

Other Differences

Leaving from Newport is more challenging as it is colder and the Gulf Stream is 150 to 200 miles offshore. I have sometimes not allowed questionable boats with a first-time offshore skipper to depart in our fleet and would suggest they start further south. The SDSA can help those boats and they can join the traditional Chesapeake Bay departure. The SDSA Rally will finish in Antigua. They do not recommend a long Bermuda stopover. All rallies want to end the rally and have their sponsored events and parties well attended by a set date. It is why boats can turn on their engines and this is not a race. If boats linger in Bermuda or make other stops some crews may miss the parties that organizers work so hard to put on. I get that, but I have always wanted to do what is best for the boat owners. If an owner or family is taking only one year off and only sailing to the Caribbean this one season, they may want to spend more than two or three days in Bermuda. I do not want to rush them and make them think they are missing out by staying a few more days.

As the fleet grows there is a good chance that there will be a few boats that need to get to the closest port to fix a bigger problem. They may need to get hauled out or have a rigging issue. Sint Maarten is closer than Antigua. SXM is well knows as having the best marine services in the area. It is also very cheap to provisions and buy libations ($5 bottles of Rum, no tax). Plus boats in the rally get two free days dockage and 10% off as long as you stay at sponsor IGY Marina in SXM.

My thoughts are that the combined NARC/SDSA Rally grows to over 100 boats. Antigua will be happy to split the parties as they will not be able to accommodate 300 people at most venues and extend the welcome for a week or two. Even if a boat’s crew plan a longer stop in Bermuda or want to stop in SXM for two free days dockage they will still make it to Antigua for some of the events. For those not wanting to leave SXM we will have a week of tours and gatherings planned and will encourage boats to also visit Antigua early in the season when they are ready. Maybe we will be able to get a little friendly competition between Antigua and SXM to offer the rally participants better parties or more events for visiting. This is in keeping with the philosophy of doing what is best for the boat owners and crew.

Hank Schmitt
August 2022

 

NARC 2022 Schedule

NARC/SDSA Rally Schedule2022

  • Arrivals
    October 22 through October 26
    Boats arrive up to one week before departure of October 29. Contact the Newport Yachting Center at (401) 846-1600 to make reservations ($3 per foot). Our host for dining is Benjamin's in Newport. All Rally Participants get 20% off their food all week. Stop in to get a wrist band when you arrive in town.

    Newport
    Thursday, October 27
    All boats should be in Newport by Thursday.
    Friday, October 28
    3:00 pm Weather Briefing – Skippers only - Seaman’s Church Institute
    5:00 pm - Crew Dinner at Benjamin’s – Everyone invited*.
    Saturday, October 29
    Depart Newport

    Bermuda
    Friday, November 4
    For early arrivals Club – Happy hour drinks/ welcome dark n stormy
    Pasta dinner offered ($12)*
    Saturday, November 5
    Goslings Rum Tasting - Happy Hour food
    6:00PM: Gombay Dancers
    Sunday, November 6
    5:00 pm - St. Georges Dinghy and Sport Club
    Dinner – 5:00 pm - Fish Fry* SDSA (Fish Fry is $35)
    Monday, November 7
    1st Fleet departs Bermuda

    Schedule for Those Remaining Until Friday
    Monday, November 7
    TBD
    Tuesday, November 8
    TBD
    Wednesday, November 9
    TBD
    Thursday, November 10
    TBD
    Friday, November 11
    Fleet Departs

    St. Maarten Monday, November 14
    Happy Hour Wrap up for early arrivals.
    End of Rally for 1st Group

    Schedule for Those Remaining in Bermuda and Participating in Extended Welcome in SXM Saturday, November 19
    6:00 PM Final NARC Party IGY Marina. But start of the special week.
    Sunday, November 20
    TBD
    Monday, November 21
    Provisioning Day
    Transportation to Divico
    Tuesday, November 22
    Bus Tour of the Island
    Topper’s Rum Tour
    Wednesday, November 23
    Zip Line
    Casino Bingo
    Thursday, November 24
    Closing Thanksgiving Meal

    *All meals and parties are included for NARC Rally Participants.
    The SDSA will have their crews pick and choose (al-a carte) which events they wish to pay for separately.

 

 

NARC 2022 Benefits

NARC/SDSA Rally Benefits

The nominal $100.00 (or $400.00) boat entry fee and the per person fee of $150.00 pays for everything with very few exceptions.

Please sign up and pay the entry fees online.

In Newport, everything we have planned is within walking distance of the marina.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 631-423-4988.

 

Newport

Arrive up to one week before departure and get discount dockage at the Newport Yachting Center. Our Newport home base.

 

Bermuda

 

Extended stay to Friday, November 11

 

Sint Maarten

 

Extended Fleet visit for those arriving by Saturday, November 19 and through Thanksgiving, November 24