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Cruising In Company: The Run Up To The Rally Departure

My emotions are flip-flopping. One day I’m apprehensive and concerned and the next excited and motivated. For the first time since starting our sailing adventure we’ve joined an on-shore rally; becoming one of 40 boats that will cruise together through some very interesting, adventurous and sometimes dangerous destinations in South and Central America, Honduras and Belize.

As I write, we have just two weeks until the OCC ‘Suzie Too Rally’ departs. Boats are gathering in Curacao and the quiet existence we’ve been enjoying here since September, is very steadily getting busier, as is the social life. Our Sunday was spent boat hopping between lunch and drinks, afternoon drinks and sunset drinks!

As always, there’s a jobs list that’s an arm’s length long of maintenance and stocking up that we need to do before we leave. Skipper, who’s an affable chap, is very skilled on most things of a boating nature, so is also quite busy assisting rally boats with advice and repairs; often substituting his playtime for helping others but enjoying a well-earned beer in the process.

As more people arrive for the rally, our quiet end-of-day swim at the nearby beach resort where some boats are also moored has become a complete social event.  Ferg and Molly hold court in the shallows, Molly chasing a ball in and out of the water while Ferg chats to our new cruising companions.  Meanwhile, I steam up and down trying to get some swimming in before too many people turn up for a ‘bob-around’ with a beer.

SBBR

Santa Barbara Beach Resort, a wonderful place for a swim!


And here’s where the emotions flip flop. Now into our fifth year of sailing, I’ve got used to the more reclusive lifestyle of a live-aboard and I’ve relaxed into the introvert side of my personality. For many years, it’s been the extrovert side that’s been dominant and much needed with jobs held of an Assistant Cruise Director on a cruise ship, through to being MD of a PR agency. I’ve never had a problem holding my own in a group of people, and yet I find a large cluster of experienced sailors conversing together can be quite intimidating, especially when there’s rum involved! Skipper revels on the conversation and camaraderie; while I much prefer the more intimate gatherings.

Just some of the wonderful sailors joining the OCC Suzie Too Rally


On the flip side, there’s a support network in place for all of us. In total, there are over 60 boats on the rally, travelling in two groups, and swapping information gleaned about our current and forthcoming ports of call.

It’s a lot more like land-living with a community in place and for the first time since we started on this adventure we have neighbours; people we enjoy the company of to share tours and cars with, to regularly meet for dinner and who can also dog sit as there are many times we want to explore a National Park, museum or art gallery where dogs just aren’t allowed.  At this stage, it’s refreshing and rejuvenating, we’ve become very good friends with some truly lovely people and are looking forward  to spending more time with them over the coming months.

And the community spirit is out in force in Curacao. For the last few weeks, there’s been a regular group of us enjoying Pilates and Yoga in the most spectacular outdoor setting at a local resort – great for motivation. SUP Yoga is also taking off among a group of boats in one of the anchorages. Ferg led a group of a dozen divers to explore a local tugboat wreck; while for those who prefer to stay dry, there’s a book club already underway. It’s very reminiscent of my cruise ship days so I really shouldn’t have a problem adjusting! And yet there are times where i just want to retreat into my cancerian shell.

Yoga with a view!


Our five-month adventure on this rally is taking us through some interesting waters, some of which have had a problem with piracy. Cruising in the company of other boats give us the security and peace of mind; it’s like buddy-boating on a grand scale.

And here’s where I’m quite excited, for a simple fact that some of the destinations we are visiting are off the beaten track. We have the chance of a lifetime to safely sail to another continent, cruise around some of the remotest San Blas islands and explore the Bay Islands of Honduras.  There will be some ports where we will be anchored on top of each other, which I hope I’ll cope with, but there will also be a time when we are one of just a few boats enjoying a spectacular sunset in a quiet bay. And that will be so very special.

A sunset to remember


******

The OCC ‘Suzie Too Rally’ begins on Wednesday 21 November. Next Port of Call is Aruba followed in early December by Santa Marta in Colombia.  Two Drifters will be blogging regularly on this next adventure.

This post was written by Nev aka The First Lady.

© Two Drifters Travel

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