From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

‘Round the DelMarVa They Go

The June 8 start of the ARC DelMarVa Rally in a light morning breeze off Annapolis. Photo by Al Schreitmueller
The June 8 start of the ARC DelMarVa Rally in a light morning breeze off Annapolis. Photo by Al Schreitmueller

“I had read about cruisers traveling difficult or dangerous waters in flotillas or groups, so the idea of being with other boaters has always appealed to me,” says Gary Wells, first-time participant in the 450-mile-long ARC DelMarVa Rally June 7-14.

Wells and his wife Robin have only actively sailed for six years, but now that they are both newly retired, they have big dreams for life aboard their Amel Super Maramu 53, a bluewater cruiser they purchased in January and brought to Herrington Harbour North. That the boat was designed to be double-handed was a big selling point, as the couple plans to live aboard for six years or more.

“My wife and I are both equally trained and certified with ASA and previously sailed a Sabre 28 in Florida and on the Chesapeake,” says Wells. “Having said that, our experience (by bluewater cruising standards) is limited… My wife and I make a good team though, and we are looking forward to casting off and starting our adventure.”

The World Cruising Club’s ARC DelMarVa, a circumnavigation around the peninsula, with parties along the way, boasted 23 entries. The rally departed June 8 following a captains’ meeting and welcome party at J/World Annapolis the previous night. Participating boats ranged from a J/105 to 54-footers, with many in the 35- to 40-foot range. Most of the ralliers were first-time participants.

“This is our first rally of any kind,” says Wells. “It makes sense that as we start to explore the intricacies of cruising and start climbing the learning curve, we get connected to others that have done it before and are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. We first heard about the ARC while reading an article about weather forecasting and Robin and I decided that we would put a hard date on the calendar for our adventure to begin by signing up for the Caribbean 1500 this November.” After signing on to the 1500, the couple attended a WCC seminar in Annapolis in March and decided to consider the DelMarVa rally as a test run.

Wells says, “Preparations have been going on in earnest… Since this is a new-to-us boat, we are very busy learning what we have on our hands and what we need to do to get outfitted and absolutely seaworthy. We have been doing some practice with the boat, getting lots of hours reading and watching videos and attending the Cruising Seminar put on by the WCC.”

The couple has followed WCC’s guidance and checklists for preparation. “The list is long (and expensive), so we find ourselves prioritizing and moving forward as best we can given the constraints of time and finances. A week ago, we were inspected by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and we are proud to have passed. The information we received from WCC was instrumental in preparing us for that, and we didn’t even really know it.”

“At this moment we are considering hiring an experienced captain so that we can glean as much as possible from the experience,” says Wells. “There’s a lot for us to try out, and having someone aboard who’s been there will not only offer that extra safety margin, but likely save us time and expense in the future. We will join the 1500 in November, and that will be our full indoctrination into passage making. We plan to winter in the Caribbean, returning to the area where this dream all started. Then, and this is what this is all about, we will cross to the Med in 2015.”

What are the Wells looking forward to the most? “Sailing this boat that we have schemed and dreamed for nine years now is definitely going to be the best part. What›s going to be very cool about the rally is the meeting and networking with experienced sailors, learning about available resources, and learning how to do the things we are looking forward to doing on a grand scale. This will take place in a setting of safety and within the ‹confines› of an organized and scheduled event. We are definitely looking forward to seeing new sights, meeting new people and learning as much as we can.”

In a mix of conditions, including a slow sail down the Chesapeake and a terrific, windy finish, the Wells and fellow ralliers successfully completed their adventure June 14. Stay tuned for next month’s report on the on-the-water action.

Written by: Molly Winans
Molly Winans is the managing editor of SpinSheet and PropTalk, free monthly sailing and boating magazines in Annapolis.  

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