This past month there was both good news and bad from the top cruising and sailing rally organizers.
First the bad news…
After the horrible tragedy at the hands of Somalian pirates that took the lives of four Blue Water Rally participants, rally organizers released the following statement:
“It is with great regret that Blue Water Rallies Limited announces that the Company will cease trading in its current form on 30 April 2011 at the end of its current Round the World Rally. Since its formation in 1997, Blue Water Rallies have organised eight world rallies and take great pride in having enabled over 200 owners and hundreds of crew members to realise their dream of a circumnavigation. The current economic downturn and a dramatic rise in piracy in the Indian Ocean (which shows little prospect of resolution) however, have led us to make this disappointing, but we feel realistic, decision.”
As a result, BWR has canceled their 2011-2013 Round-the-World Rally “owing to insufficient entries.”
In the aftermath of the killings aboard the sailing yacht Quest in mid-February and more recently, the taking hostage of seven Danes, including three children, after hijacking their yacht ING off the Somali coast, the Rally Organizers approached Dockwise Yacht Transport seeking an alternative for participants to safely cross the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
As was stated in a press release issued on March 12, “These incidents and other recent acts of piracy in the area have made proceeding in any direction from Salalah too high-risk for the vast majority of participants. Strong recommendations from The UK Maritime Trade Organisation and The Maritime Liaison Office were decisive factors.”
As a result, Dockwise Yacht Transport (DYT) orchestrated the transport of 20 private cruising yachts from Salalah, Oman to Marmaris, Turkey. Dockwise is best known for its fleet of semi-submersible “float-on/float-off” yacht carriers, also coordinates lift-on/lift-off arrangements with third-party carriers, and logistically can fulfill almost any request, even if it is driven by unfortunate circumstances.
“Due to increased piracy, cruising sailors are altering their plans for getting from southeastern Asia to the Mediterranean,” said DYT President Clemens van der Werf. “By virtue of their independent and adventurous nature, some of these sailors had not previously thought about shipping as an alternative, but they are thinking differently now. Dockwise is committed to assisting them in all phases of learning about the process and then implementing a plan so they can ship to designated ports rather than travel through dangerous waters on their own.”
Dockwise Yacht Transport has been working one-on-one with owners, captains and crews to ensure safe and efficient passages by way of shipping. “We will do all we can to help sailors meet their needs, utilizing extensive shipping routes and schedules used by our own Dockwise vessels as well as our alliances with heavy-lift operators around the world.”
And now for some good news!
Despite the piracy issues in the Red Sea, cruisers appear not to have been deterred from setting sail elsewhere on bluewater adventures.
The UK-based World Cruising Club, organizer of the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), say the 2011 event has been booked out well ahead of the official cut-off date.
“The WCC has just experienced the busiest January ever for enquiries and entries,” they said.
“Enthusiasm to join sailing rallies, whether as a boat owner or crew, continues to grow.”
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, an annual transatlantic rally, starts each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and has now become the most popular way to cross the Atlantic. Every year the ARC brings together over 200 yachts from all over the world. The Caribbean destination is Rodney Bay in St Lucia, one of the most beautiful islands in the Lesser Antilles. The 2700nm passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.
Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants. The presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience.
According to the rally’s website, “ARC 2011 will have a record-breaking 25 multihulls on the start line, including 21m Barreau 71 Stadium (FRA), and catamarans from Lagoon, Gunboat, Catana, Privilege and Outremer. New Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA) has been attracting a lot of coverage in sailing magazines around the world, and is sure to be an eye-catcher in the Vela Latina!
The oldest boat entered so far is Cruinneag III (GBR), a Campbells & Dickies ketch built in 1936, and we’ll have lots of brand spanking new boats, including Discovery 55 Brizo (GBR). 38 boats to date are less than 40ft (12.2m) long, and the smallest is Sigma 33 Sibilation (GBR).”
In other world cruising news:
An informal convoy of 10 yachts who banded together to sail from Thailand to Turkey has arrived safely in Aden without experiencing any issues – but that doesn’t mean that the region can be traversed without risk of piracy attack.
The European Union Naval Force taskforce set up to combat piracy reports that while piracy activity has been much less during the last few weeks, this is probably mainly to the weather, and it is expected to increase again once this eases.
The organiser of the Thailand to Turkey informal convoy told noonsite.com that the 10-vessel fleet had had a trouble-free run to Aden, although the turmoil in Yemen had been apparent during a stopover.
“The convoy went well. No major problems, apart from some fishing nets and engine hick-ups, no encounteres with any other but fishing boats and friendly people,” convoy organiser Rene Tiemessen said.
“Mukallah proved a useful stopover to sleep and rest although the internal turmoil in Yemen was felt dearly. A demonstration went on, streets were not very busy and we had a police escort going for dinner in the evening. Nevertheless, it was a nice stop.
“The last part to Aden was a quiet one. Yes, a lot of conversations on the VHF about piracy and coalition forces but nothing disturbing.”
Some important resource links for Cruisers Safety & Security:
The UK Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO) (http://www.mschoa.org/Links/Pages/UKMTO.aspx) in Dubai is the primary point of contact for liaison with military forces in the region.
The Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) (http://www.cusnc.navy.mil/marlo/) US Navy Bahrain, is a secondary point of contact after UKMTO in the region.
The Red Sea of Cape of Good Hope Route? http://www.cruiserlog.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=12338
U.S. State Department Warnings http://www.travel.state.gov/
Canadian Travel Warnings and Info http://www.voyage.gc.ca/index-eng.asp
Women & Cruising – Resources http://www.womenandcruising.com/resources.htm