Granted independence from the UK in 1981, English is spoken everywhere, along with local dialects. The deep harbour at St John’s was home to the British fleet in the past and now welcomes large cruise ships. Ringed with coral reefs and 365 beaches – one for every day of the year – Antigua is a popular holiday destination, served by regular flights from major airlines. Oyster owners will find themselves moored up in the historic Nelson’s Dockyard before the Rally begins. This cultural heritage site is the only working Georgian dockyard in the world today, it was Admiral Horatio Nelson’s base for the British Navy in the 1780s. It marks the start and finish line for the Oyster World Rally and has witnessed some amazing party’s courtesy of the Oyster Events team.
A few days before Christmas, the fleet gathered for a Welcome Party at Boom Restaurant, overlooking Nelson’s dockyard. Following a spectacular New Year fireworks display over the harbour, everyone set to on their final preparations for the Rally. Activities included sea survival and cookery courses. In parallel the fleet joined briefings on the weather, Galapagos Islands, Sea Mercy’s mission and a final skippers briefing.
Two days ahead of departure the entire fleet attended a farewell dinner at the stunning Catherine’s Café on Pigeon Beach to celebrate a memorable few weeks in Antigua and the start of the Rally. After their final preparations and briefings, the fleet was blessed by the Royal Naval Tot Club of Antigua and Barbuda and toasted with the traditional rum tot. The following day, at 13:00hrs, 9th 2022 January, the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda fired the cannon from Fort Charlotte and the fleet crossed the start line in perfect conditions – 20 knots of breeze and bright sunshine, bound for the Panama Canal.
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