Bermuda Cruising Rally
FAQ
   

How much experience do I need to sail this event?  Sailing to Bermuda is something to be taken seriously, as it requires sailing in the ocean for multiple days, through the night, and conquering a Gulfstream crossing.  That said, with proper planning, preparation and attention it is something that most reasonably experienced sailors can manage.  The rally format necessarily attracts less experienced bluewater sailors, and that is fine of course.  In terms of experience, you should have made several overnight passages, whether coastal or bluewater.  Ideally you will have sailed to Bermuda as crew if not as skipper.  Likewise, you should be able to sail and deal with what most sailors consider heavy weather.  Though we are employing experienced weather and Gulf Stream routers and we will not leave in the face of a dangerous weather forecast, no one can guaranty fair weather and you should expect to encounter 25 to 30 knot winds or more and the accompanying seas for at least some of the time.  If you are on the lighter side in terms of experience, then it is all the more important for you to have experienced crew on board, particularly crew who know how to cope with deteriorating weather, mechanical failures, and ocean passages.  It would be greatly helpful to have at least one crewmember on board who has sailed to Bermuda.

What is included in the $995 entry fee.  The entry fee gets you entered into the event, personalized weather and Gulf Stream routing, updated daily en route, Internet tracking device, briefings and inspections by Tania, discounted dockage/moorings, several parties, assistance with all arrangements, and a doorway into a great experience. 

 

What costs should I expect to incur in addition to the rally entrance fee?  Additional costs that you may incur are the actual dockage costs at the departure point and in Bermuda (you can stay dockside, take a mooring, or simply drop a hook for no cost at all), satphone rental and usage charges, and entry fees into Bermuda.  Likewise, the costs of provisioning, fuel, recreation in Bermuda (interior travel, hotels, restuarants, etc.; essentially, spending money), and of course the boat itself and her equipment are things that are not included in your entry fee.  It is important to understand that while we are more than happy to help you make these added arrangements, it is the responsibility of the skipper to ensure they get done and are accounted for, such as renting or purchasing a satellite phone before you arrive in Greenport.

What if I don't want dockage in Bermuda and would prefer to anchor, or if there are other services I don't really want?  We heard from several people that they would prefer to pick and choose the services they want, and not pay for services that they don't need.  So in response, we've moved away from an all-inclusive price.  If you want to stay at a dock, we've negotiated discounts.  If you want to anchor out, feel free to do so.  We are requiring each participant to have a satellite phone, so you must arrange that and it is an added cost you must bear.  If you have questions about a particular service, please contact us.

What will Tania Aebi's role be?  Tania will prepare various materials for your use in preparing for the trip, she will lead the pre-departure activities in New York, sail with the fleet, and be there with the group to play in Bermuda.  Tania, through Offshore Passage Opportunities, also is offering, for an added fee, berths on her boat for individuals interested in making the trip but for whatever reason cannot sail their own boat (space is extremely limited, so make contact early for availability and pricing; we can connect you to Hank Schmitt of OPO for this information).

When do I need to have the boat at the departure point?  We are planning a morning departure on Sunday, of course depending on weather.  Ideally, you would arrive at the departure point sometime on Friday.  This would allow you to participate in Friday night's informal social gathering, allow all day Saturday for briefings and inspections, and leave time Sunday morning for last minute preparations.  If you can't arrive on Friday, we can work with you to make sure you still get the substantive benefits of the pre-departure routine.

What if I can't or don't want to get my boat to the specific departure point for the start?  We strongly urge participants to be at the departure point for the start.  Otherwise, you will miss out on much of what makes a rally a rally.  That said, we understand it may be inconvenient for certain boats to travel a meaningful distance to the start, yet they still want to sail to Bermuda as part of a group for a variety of reasons.  (In a prior year one boat started from Hampton Virginia, and in another one started from Westerly, Rhode Island.)  If you want to participate but want or need to start from somewhere other than Greenport, we can work that out with you to ensure you get all the pre-departure materials, forecasts, routing, etc.  We may also be able to arrange your participation in briefings by phone.  Just call us and we'll make your specific situation work.

How much time do I need to do the entire event?  Roughly speaking, and depending on weather, the event spans about two and one-half weeks  --  about one week for pre-departure activities and sailing to Bermuda, a few days in Bermuda itself, and four to five days to sail back.  If you can't take this amount of time to do the event, you are not out of luck.  You can sail to Bermuda with the group, then leave your boat in Bermuda on a mooring under the guardianship of Bermuda Yacht Services, fly home, and sail the boat back at another time.  Another option is to sail the boat there and have a delivery skipper sail it back (boats in our rally do and have done that, and the majority of boats to do the Newport-Bermuda race do the same).  If you want to do the event but are having trouble working the schedule, please call us, as we might have some suggestions for you.

I want to do the event, but I need crew.  Can you help with that?  We definitely can, and the need for crew should not be a deterrent from doing this rally.  We have an arrangement with Offshore Passage Opportunities which is, among other things, a crew exchange run by Hank Schmitt filled with over 600 experienced bluewater sailors who always are looking to accumulate additional sea miles.  What's more, the service is free to skippers participating in our rally.  You will be required to provide onboard meals and such during the trip, but OPO's sailors will get themselves to and from your boat at no cost to you.  Check out their website at www.sailopo.com.

Can I have different crew sail with me to Bermuda than I have sail with me home?  Absolutely.  Bermuda has specific rules and requirements about crew exchange, but we can help you make all the necessary arrangements and submit all the necessary paperwork.

I would like to volunteer as crew, is that possible?  Yes, we are maintaining a database of crew so that skippers who want to do the event but lack crew still can participate.  If you want to crew, please send an email to info@bermudacruisingrally.com, and give your name, contact information, your sailing experience, where you are located, and any other special skills, needs or considerations that you may have (mechanic, celestial navigation, smoker, etc.).

Can I have work performed at the departure point?  How about getting fuel and water?  All boats should plan to arrive at the departure point fully equipped and ready to sail.  That said, Greenport does have mechanics and technicians close by to help with repairs.  In terms of installing new equipment, you should be very wary of installing equipment right before departure, particularly complicated gear that requires some experience to obtain optimal performance, such as SSB radios, radars and the like.  You will be able to get diesel and water in Greenport without trouble.

Can I provision at the departure point?  In a word, yes.  There is a fully stocked supermarket merely steps away from Mitchell Park Marina.

The website mentions Bermuda Yacht Services' "concierge services."  What does this mean?  Bermuda Yacht Services predicates its business on catering to yachtsmen.  Part of this is to ensure that sailors get what they need, whether it be provisions, hotel reservations, assistance with customs, local knowledge or anything at all.  Once you sign up with our rally, you gain willing access to and help from true experts on all things Bermuda.

What kind of boat do I need?  Boats of all kinds have made ocean crossings, and there is no one type of boat that is best.  Your boat needs to be in good condition, of adequate construction to withstand the loads caused by ocean weather and waves, and she needs to be outfitted with proper gear.  If you have questions about your specific boat, please contact us to discuss.

What equipment do I need?  Once you sign up we'll send you a required equipment list, as well as Tania's pre-departure checklist of everything you should do before you arrive in New York to get your boat and yourself ready for the voyage.  The required equipment list will include the usual assortment of gear that has been written about and published by several sources.  If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to call us.

What will the pre-departure inspections be like?  The sole purpose of the inspections will be to ensure that each participating boat has the required gear aboard.  Obviously if there is something else that is noticed, Tania or another member of our team will raise it, but the inspections are not to ensure or guaranty that your boat is in proper condition or of suitable construction.  If you install the requisite gear in advance, test it, and generally maintain your boat and her systems, the inspections merely should confirm what you already know  --  you're ready to go!

How will the daily skeds work underway?  Historically rally skeds were done by SSB.  We are going to do them with satellite phones.  In our view, in short order going to sea without a satellite phone will be akin to going to sea today without a GPS.  At predetermined times you'll use your phone to dial into the conference call center, punch in your access code, and you'll participate in a group call with everyone.  We'll go over everything in the pre-departure briefings, but essentially we'll do a role call, each boat will give its location and weather conditions, and our weather/gulfstream routers will give updates and guidance based on your actual position.  Likewise, this will present a good opportunity to ask for guidance or share experiences.  Of course, you can use the phone to make calls at anytime during the trip.

How do I sign up?  Check the "Contact Us" link on the site for our contact information, and call, email or submit an inquiry online.  We will send you the sign-up form and liability waiver by email, fax or mail, whichever you prefer.  Once you receive it, complete the form and return it with a check.

When is the deadline for signing up?  We have not set an actual "deadline."  That said, we believe this type of rally works best when each boat, skipper and crew get individualized attention.  Accordingly, we may choose to cut off entries at a certain point to keep the fleet to a manageable size.  Also keep in mind that depending on what you need to do to get your boat ready you may need time to install and test gear.  While we will continue to accept qualified boats and skippers afterward if we feel there is room, you should try to sign up by April 2011.

Are there things such as a notice of race, racing rules, or sailing instructions?  Yes, we are going to use the Racing Rules of Sailing, as referred to on The David Agency's website (www.thedavidagency.com/signal/RLFaqs.htm).  This is required for insurance purposes, and each participant must agree to comply with such rules.