The fleet have now all left Cape Town and most of them have already arrived in St Helena, a tiny, volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.
St Helena is the last resting place of Napoleon, and one of the remotest places in the world: 1,200 miles from the Southwest coast of Africa and 1,800 miles from South America.
The first boats to arrive have already started to explore around the island. Visiting Napoleon's house, meeting Jonathan the Giant Tortoise (the oldest-known living land animal in the world!), and swimming with giant whale sharks were the main highlights of their time spent on this tropical island so far.
When you dream of Cape Town, you think of the beautiful harbour, amazing Table Mountain, and guaranteed sunshine. The Oyster World Rally fleet have not been disappointed and have had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break in this amazing and vibrant city.
After a challenging sail from La Reunion and Durban the fleet gathered at the V&A Waterfront Marina, Cape Town for a Christmas party at the Grand Africa Beach Club, overlooking Table Bay and the infamous Robben Island. After an amazing meal and sampling the delicious local wines, Santa even arrived with secret presents for everyone, a real highlight of the evening.
Most owners and crew have spent time relaxing and visiting the fantastic attractions in the Cape area including the Penguins and Boulders Beach, Cape Point (the meeting of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans), walking up Table Mountain, and visiting the wine areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Most have also taken the opportunity to go inland to go on safari in Kruger and Shamwari Game reserves – the photos coming back are just out of this world!
The next section of the rally takes our fleet back up the Atlantic Ocean and visiting the islands of St Helena, Ascension, and then onto Brazil. Some long passages coming up, so the fleet are now making sure that their yachts are in tip top shape and crew are back in sailing mode and raring to go!
Navigating towards the south coast of South Africa can be tricky. The 1430nm passage sail to Durban, going beneath the island of Madagascar and crossing the difficult Agulhas Current which runs around the coast of South Africa needs very careful respect and attention. Interpreting the weather and deciding when to leave La Reunion was super important, making sure that when crossing the Agulhas current, the yachts have wind and current travelling with them once entering this 60nm wide ocean tidal flow. The weather can be very unpredictable which led to a split in the fleet – the quicker yachts left early, whilst the rest waited for the next weather window.
Durban was an amazing destination, with the local yacht clubs of Royal Natal and Point Yacht Club combining with Durban Tourism and Sail Africa coming together to devise an entertainment programme to keep all owners busy, highlighting the local culture, cuisine and scenic spots. Some Oysters have taken some local sailors with them on the sail to Cape Town as a thank you for the amazing hospitality. Top activities in Durban were experiencing a Bunny Chow, visiting a Shebeen, eating a typical South African Braii, heading off on Safari and Zulu dancing. All in all a hectic, yet wonderful rally destination that highlighted the amazing eclectic city of Durban, and a true reflection of Africa.
The next rally destination is the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, where the fleet will spend Christmas and New Year under the shadow of Table Mountain at the V&A Marina. A rally Christmas party has been organised at the iconic V&A Waterfront, as well as a day at the Vondeling Winery, owned by Oyster owners, Anthony and Sophie Ward.
The crossing from La Reunion Island to Durban has been tricky. The weather must be right to start the passage and timing is very important. Oyster World Rally weatherman, respected Ocean Skipper and Meteorologist Chris Tibbs has been providing weather and routing support, giving our Oyster owners all the information they needed to make an informed decision when to set off. Ocean Pearl (625-01) was the first to depart, quickly followed by Irene IV, Seabird, Latobe and then Serendipity. They are all now safely in Durban, ably assisted by the Oyster rally support team of Gavin and Rachel.
The rest of the fleet waited for a weather update on 15 November and made the decision to stay in La Reunion, as a nasty low-pressure system off the cost of South Africa looked too risky. They set off last Sunday with the knowledge that the system was dissipating. The rally fleet have now past the southern tip of Madagascar and are riding the favourable currents west towards South Africa. The plan is for them to head a little north of Durban and then ride the Agulhas current South to Durban. They have to time this to perfection, making sure the wind is favourable from the North or North East. Any southerly in the wind means it will be too dangerous to tackle crossing the current.
The fleet have now all crossed the Indian Ocean and have been enjoying a relaxing time on the islands of Mauritius and La Reunion. Most yachts sailed the 2330nm passage in record time, with some yachts averaging 250nm days, so quick some were unable to fish!
Mauritius greeted the Oyster fleet with a traditional Sega dance performance and taught the crews a little about the history of the island. Everyone had a great time which culminated in a happy cocktail hour at the hotel next to the marina. Each yacht received a goody bag full of gifts from the Mauritian Tourism Authority which included a bottle of local rum and a stuffed Dodo! Our agent in Mauritius, Christian Appou has been amazing, and we thank him for all his efforts making the Oyster World rally stop in Mauritius such a success.
Everyone seems to have loved Mauritius with its eclectic mix of volcanic mountains, lush sugar cane fields, and miles and miles of white beaches and crystal blue water. One of the favourite excursions here has been canyoning, drifting down waterfalls and rocky outcrops in a wetsuit and helmet whilst taking in the amazing scenery!
A quick 130 nm hop to La Reunion has given the fleet another change of culture and landscape. La Reunion is a French overseas territory so the fleet are back speaking French (the last time was in Tahiti) and are back in the Eurozone. Most of the crews are relaxing in the beautiful tropical climate and taking the opportunity to go surfing, hiking up volcanoes and white-water rafting.
Next for the fleet is navigating the very tricky 1430nm passage to Durban, going beneath the island of Madagascar and crossing the difficult Agulhas Current which runs around the coast of South Africa. Interpreting the weather and deciding when to leave La Reunion is super important, so as not to get caught out here as it can be dangerous. Yachts need to have wind and current travelling with them once entering this 60nm wide ocean tidal flow.
The fleet had a straightforward passage from Lombok to Cocos (Keeling) Islands, one of Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories. Up until a couple of weeks ago visiting yachtsmen were unable to clear into Cocos, so the fleet was lucky to be some of the first yachts to visit the islands since the beginning of Covid. As soon as the yachts started to arrive, we were inundated with the most amazing photographs we have ever seen of the idyllic anchorage next to Direction Island.
Cocos is made up of a number of islands, some inhabited, some not. There are only two flights a week to them via Perth, so victuals are limited as is fuel, therefore careful preparations were made in Indonesia before arrival to make sure the fleet did not strip the island of everything, leaving them short before the next deliveries. Activities on Cocos are mainly water based – snorkelling and diving in the most amazing azure-coloured sea. The fleet had impromptu BBQ’s most evenings on the beach, where everyone got together to relax and take stock, before the long ocean passage coming next across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. The yachts are due there from Sunday 30 October.
What an eclectic and busy place Indonesia was for the Oyster World rally fleet.
The yachts cleared into Kupang, East Timor which was just a 2-day sail from Darwin.
They were greeted with a busy, hot and energetic arrival by the locals. Most of the officials met our crews on the beach next to the anchorage, and once formalities were over, were left to explore this vivid and non-stop city.
Makara celebrated Luke’s 18th birthday with a wonderful fleet party at the Beer and Barrel Kitchen Lounge at the Sotis Hotel. With a swimming pool next to the bar, the evening ended up with most of the fleet getting wet! We wish Luke a very Happy Birthday!
After the celebrations, most of the fleet left to explore the Komodo National Park, heading towards another vibrant town of Labuan Bajo, a fishing town located at the western end of the large island of Flores. Highlights of the park are the amazing flora and fauna, and of course, the Komodo Dragon, the biggest lizard in the world. Rumour has it that they can run faster than Usain Bolt, so best not to get too near and stay downwind if you see one! Boat crews spent time hiking and exploring the islands, as well as relaxing anchored off idyllic sandy beaches and also diving.
Some crews had the almost impossible to imagine experience, diving alongside the enormous but gentle Whale Sharks – something that seems to have been on everyone’s bucket list at the start of the Oyster World Rally and now it has become a reality! Amazing stuff!
The Lesser Sunda Islands sailing west towards Lombok were thoroughly explored with some stopping at luxury resorts for a day or two of pampering, and some heading straight to Lombok and the Gili Islands for the surfing.
The fleet came together at Marina del Ray, Gili Gede for a typical Indonesian party with traditional dancing, local food and wine which lasted well into the early hours and preparations started for the next destination, Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean.
The route between Cairns and Darwin is especially tricky in terms of navigation, and the fleet were able to manage this expertly. Most of the fleet arrived in Darwin ready for a few days of relaxation and preparation ahead of their voyage over to Indonesia. Darwin is in Northern Territory of Australia and it has its own rules and regulations regarding biosecurity, so most of the fleet had to spend 12 hours having their internal water systems and pipes disinfected before allowed to berth in the marinas. A local dive company manages this and they spent a lot of time diving into the sea alongside the crocodiles – nerves of steel!
Darwin was a great stop for the Rally fleet. It has lots of quirky attractions, such as street art, local markets, funky cafes and some amazing restaurants. Petra from Yolo’s celebrated her 60th birthday at a super party at the Darwin Yacht Club with the most stunning sunset imaginable. Darwin is the gateway to the Kakadu National Park, and home to some amazing Aboriginal rock art at Ubirr Rock and stunning waterfalls.
Most of the rally fleet have now departed Cairns and are enroute to Darwin, via Cape York Peninsula, the northern most tip of Australia. This section of the rally is very challenging in terms of navigation, as there are many reefs and remote islands to watch out for, as well as the knowledge that it is one of the remotest parts of Australia should they require assistance.
Crocodiles are prevalent in these waters so there is no snorkelling or swimming from the yachts on this passage, even though the fleet is sailing in tropical temperatures and the water is very inviting!
Favourite stops so far have been Lizard Island, famous for its Sea Cucumber population and being discovered by Captain Cook in 1770, Flinders Island with its amazing selection of birds including the Flame robin. And Thursday Island famous for its pearl trade and military headquarters for the Australian and American forces during the second world war. Some fascinating places that most tourists never get to see.
The fleet have now rendezvoused in Cairns, after the merriment of Hamilton Island and exploring the amazing Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world. A lot of the owners are taking the chance to organise maintenance work including hauling out and re-antifouling hulls and important rig checks.
After sailing halfway around the world already, it’s imperative that the yachts get time to be thoroughly checked over and serviced before starting the next section of their circumnavigation. The rally support team of Laura and Raul have been joined by Will White, Customer Support Manager from Newport to help with this busy period of activity. The yachts are berthed in Marlin Marina, Cairns, right on the beautiful waterfront.
Cairns is a cosmopolitan city, and popular tourist destination due to its tropical climate and closeness to both the tropical rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. Some owners are taking the opportunity to fly home or take a break from the yachts by exploring Australia by land, popular destinations to visit are Daintree Rainforest and the beautiful mountain village of Kuranda.
The Oyster World rally fleet celebrated sailing halfway around the world in great style with an unforgettable party on Hamilton Island, Australia last week. The whole fleet were together for this super party, and much fun was had by everyone.
The evening got underway with cocktails on the lawn overlooking Catseye Beach and a glorious sunset over the Whitsunday Islands. Dinner commenced with scuba divers bringing platters of seafood entrees to each table accompanied by amazing music and fireworks. During the evening prizes were awarded to those that had been nominated as the Spirit of the Rally, which included Louis Goor on Irene IV for being brilliant on the Fleet radio net. Ed Rumble owner of Black Lion and Joao Carrerio Skipper, for coming to the rescue of Latobe after engine failure, and James and Julia Thomas for sailing most of the first half of the rally doublehanded – a great achievement.
To celebrate sailing halfway around the world, each owner was given a unique handcrafted Oyster plaque made by the Oyster joinery team in the UK and also the chance to say a few words in a radio net style broadcast hosted by Louis Goor, with much laughter and amusement. The evening concluded with enthusiastic dancing to the Red Tie Band, who had flown over especially from Brisbane. A great night was had by all!
The majority of the fleet have now arrived into Australia and have made their way to the stunning Hamilton Island. Yesterday the fleet rendezvoused at the iconic Hamilton Island Yacht Club for drinks and canapes on the Bommie Deck overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Whitsundays. They were treated to an amazing sunset and enjoyed catching up with all the rally boats having not seen some crews since leaving Fiji. Oyster Yachts CCO Paul Adamson was on hand to meet and greet and lead the merriment.
Louis and the crew onboard Irene IV tell us about their time in Port Resolution, on Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Active volcanos are found on several islands, with frequent earthquake activity, signifying instability. The geology boasts, sedimentary rock, coral limestone, and volcanic rock. From Irene IV's deck anchored in Port Resolution, we can see a white sand coral beach and a black sand volcanic rock beach, as well as steam issuing from rocks, hillsides, and the water's surface. The active volcano, Mount Yasur, predominates the skyline of Tanna Island.
The day after our arrival, some of the crew from Infinity, Irene IV, and Seabird went ashore to the village. We had previously asked if an eye clinic would be appropriate and were met with delighted squeals. Starting with Ben, the local primary school headmaster, we performed the simple test, part of the special kit bought from the humanitarian organization, Sea Mercy (http://www.seamercy.org/oyster ). He was overjoyed to be able to read without squinting as he pored over the endless paperwork that is the job of a school headmaster. We gave him 2 pairs, so he had an extra pair if one pair got scratched or broken. We left a bundle of pairs of glasses with him with test sheets, so he could test any children he thought might benefit.
Moving into the village we set up an informal clinic in the cool shade of some trees. Beside us the local village treasurer sat on a coconut frond woven mat doing her calculations, unperturbed by our presence. Adjacent, in the shade of a rickety awning, a few local men snoozed before heading back to work. Mostly older women, older men, and children gathered around eager to see what was happening. Presenting an eye clinic is a lovely way to get to know villagers and chat about their lives and their dreams one on one. We meet Nancy, a retired nurse, who we fitted with glasses. A very old woman, is called over to the chair. We start investigating the glass strength she might need. This old lady cannot read but needs glasses to thread her needles as she is a seamstress and a weaver. Many attempts at threading with endless glass strengths, brings her to exhaustion, always with a sweet smile on her face. We hand Nancy a bag of various glasses of different levels of magnification and ask her to help the charming old lady when she is fresher and does not have a large audience of onlookers egging her on.
All in all, we hand out about 80 pairs of glasses. We are showered with gifts of fruits and vegetables in gratitude. Enveloped by villagers smiles and hugs we head back to our respective boats thrilled to have really made a difference.
The fleet have been enjoying the fascinating islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia over the past couple of weeks. Vanuatu is made up of roughly 80 islands stretching 1,300 kilometers which make for world class diving experiences on coral reefs, underwater caverns and wrecks such as the WWII-era troopship SS President Coolidge. New Caledonia is a French territory, boasting spectacular scenery and superb hospitality. Many of the fleet are waiting in New Caledonia for a weather window to open up to make onward the passage to Mackay, Australia.
Recently the fleet were reunited at Musket Cove in Fiji for another fantastic evening together. They watched the sun go down over the island with a famous Musket Cove rum punch followed by a delicious Fijian dinner and smores around the fire pit. An amazing local band played throughout the night and got everyone on their feet (and some on the bar!). The first yachts have starting clearing out of Fiji and are headed to the next destination of Australia.
Oyster 575 Nikaia visited a school in Fiji this week and spoke to the children and teachers about their Oyster World Rally adventure. They handed out inflatable globes and explained where they had sailed from, which everyone was most impressed by! The children went on to sing them a beautiful song and were so delighted by the visit. Nikaia presented kava root to the chief and were welcomed into his home where they talked about their families and life on the island. A joyful visit had by all!
The Oyster World Rally fleet are in every corner of Fiji's archipelago, making the very most of this very special place. A handful of yachts rendezvoused in Vanua Balavu, in the Northern Lau Group, and were treated to an impromptu night at the Vanua Balavu yacht club - see images to the right!
Diving has been a highlight of the Oyster World Rally so far and Fiji is no exception. Famous for it’s colourful soft corals and anemones, dramatic topography and typically clear water, it feels like you are diving in a salt water aquarium with unlimited visibility! The fleet really have been making the most of their time in Fiji, exploring many of the smaller island groups off the tourist trail.
Whilst two yachts are still enjoying the wonders of French Polynesia, the majority of the fleet have now arrived safely in Fiji and have begun their adventure throughout the islands. Three yachts are exploring the Lau Group which is a collection of sixty islands and islets to the east of the main island of Viti Levu. In the words of one yacht, "we can say that it's one of the most beautiful areas we have yet visited - remote and totally untouched by tourism. How lucky we are to be able to explore on our Oyster!".
On Wednesday 8th June the Copra Shed Marina and Fiji tourism put on a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony for the fleet. Jacks of Fiji kitted the men out in sulus (similar to a kilt) and the women in sarongs. The rally fleet presented kava root to the town representatives and thanked them before they we were welcomed to the island. Each boat were given beautiful hand printed bags, flower garlands and a fruit basket. The staff at the Copra Shed have been so kind and helpful, and were so pleased to welcome the Oyster fleet back to Savu Savu. The fleet are enjoying a variety of tours and diving trips, and have some Oyster dinners coming up. You can see why no one wants to leave!
Goodbye French Polynesia, hello Fiji! The first boats are now arriving into Savu Savu on the island of Vanua Levu where they will clear into Fiji. Many boats will base themselves at the Copra Shed Marina where a number of events and tours will take place, such as a traditional cava welcome ceremony, local dancing and geothermal and chocolate tours. From Savu Savu the fleet will go on to explore the endless archipelagos of Fiji for the next 5 weeks.
Three rally yachts took part in the Tahiti Pearl Regatta last week – a Polynesian event highlighted by three days racing in turquoise waters bordered by the barrier reef and deep blue ocean. It may be the only regatta in the world that serves fresh coconut at the finish line! Oyster 675 Seabird took the overall win in the cruising class, followed by Oyster 575 Nikaia in second, and Oyster 625 Black Lion in fourth. Amazing to see the rally boats on the podium, well done!
On Friday the fleet met for an evening at the iconic Bloody Mary’s in Bora Bora, known for it’s fresh food, signature cocktails and celebrity appearances! It was a fantastic evening catching up and celebrating two fleet birthdays in such an idyllic setting. The first of the fleet have now set off for Fiji and the next stop of Savu Savu on the island of Vanua Levu. The crossing is just under 2000nm and will take the fleet approximately 8 to 13 days.
It’s fair to say the fleet are well and truly settled into life in the South Pacific and are having the time of their lives enjoying the magical islands of French Polynesia. Many of them are currently exploring the Leeward Islands of Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha’a and have been enjoying breath-taking hikes through lush vegetation, unforgettable dives and snorkelling experiences crystal clear waters, and visits to some of the islands most beautiful and exclusive resorts. Oyster support team Rachel and Gavin have now arrived in Bora Bora for the next week before moving ahead of the fleet to Fiji.
Moorea, what an amazing destination! Lying just 11 miles west from Papeete, Tahiti, the island of Moorea is part of the Society Islands in the South Pacific. It is renowned for its beautiful sandy beaches and jagged volcanic mountains.
The Oyster World Rally fleet rendezvoused in 'Ōpūnohu Bay, near the new Moorea Yacht Club to enjoy a day of cultural activities including making flower leis, handicraft workshops, outrigger canoe races and traditional Polynesian sports. Lunch was a traditional Polynesian buffet of grilled fish, roast beef and salads plus fresh fruit. Tug of war, coconut husking, fruit carrier races, stone lifting followed and the day concluded with an amazing fire dance show from the Moorea Swing Boys, the highlight of the day’s activities. A truly magical day!
Tahiti is the next major destination for the Rally fleet and already 7 Oysters have arrived, taking in the most magnificent scenery. Tahiti, part of the Society Island group, is world renowned for its majestic volcanic mountain ranges and is the largest and most developed island in French Polynesia. It boasts some of the best surf spots in the world at Teahupoo. Some yachts are taking the opportunity to haul out here for annual maintenance such as re-antifouling and changing anodes – others are waiting until Australia. The fleet is now spread out in French Polynesia, but will come back together again for our next big party at Opunohu Bay, Moorea, next week.
The majority of the rally fleet are still enjoying the amazing atolls of the Tuamotus, with Fakarava being especially popular. It is the second biggest of the 80 atolls that make up the Tuamotus and it's where Judy Hill from Intrepid (Oyster 725-01) celebrated her 60th birthday at the amazing Havaiki Lodge. Happy Birthday Judy!
Fakarava is world renowned as having some of the most pristine and undisturbed coral reef ecosystems on the planet. It is home to the highest concentration of Grey reef sharks in the world, with an estimated 700 sharks comprising the single school that inhabits the area. It has certainly been an amazing hit with the rally fleet and something so unique that few tourists ever get to see.
After exploring the dramatic volcanic peaks and lush forestation of the Marquesas Islands, the fleet are now enjoying the untouched atolls of the Tuamotu archipelago. The chain of 80 protected atolls provide the perfect place for sea life and unparalleled diving and snorkelling experiences in the passes. Next the fleet will head to Tahiti and the Society Islands.
The Marquesan people gave a incredibly warm welcome to the fleet on Friday, with a full day of festivities and entertainment put on especially for the Oyster World Rally. The fleet were invited to learn local handicrafts, take horse rides along on the beach and dance the Haka. A traditional feast was cooked in the Marquesan oven (in the ground) and a welcome speech given by the Major of Nuku Hiva, followed by evening entertainment by local dance groups and musicians. A very special day of culture and fun had by all.
Yesterday was a very exciting day for some of the fleet as they received their fresh food deliveries! Being one of the most remote island groups in the world, and following 3 weeks at sea from the Galapagos, our French Polynesia representative is able to organise fresh food provisions for the fleet, so they can re-vittle for their onward journey. Receiving this goodie bag of fresh produce so remote really is something special!
Group check ins have been taking place over the last few days. Some boats are off exploring the bays of Nuku hiva, others have ventured inland on hikes and horse rides. Others are planning helicopter tours and diving trips. Everyone has been greeted warmly by the local people who are very charming and welcoming. There are two evening spots for dinner in Nuku Hiva which have become very popular with the fleet after 3 weeks at sea!
More than half of the fleet have arrived in Nuku Hiva. On April fools day the Radio Net controller gave the following message to the fleet, "unfortunately, we have been informed by Oyster support that, due to the continuing global supply chain problems, fuel will be in short supply in Nuku Hiva for a week or so. It has been relayed to us that there may only be 3,000l to share between all Oyster yachts. Unfortunate news." .... On such a long passage and with lighter trade winds than expected, more fuel had been consumed than anticipated, which had some of the fleet believing the message. However, we can confirm there is no shortage of fuel for the fleet upon landfall!
The first yachts have arrived into Nuku Hiva, the largest island in the Marquesas. They will spend a couple of weeks here before heading south to the Tuamotu Islands. Although much of the fleet are still at sea, hundreds of miles apart, they have been continuing their daily SSB Net, with recipe exchanges and discussions on keeping food fresh frequenting the airways.
The majority of the fleet are well into their crossing to French Polynesia and continue to be blessed with a healthy breeze aft which is making for good progress. The daily SSB radio net is proving ever popular and has been host to many a story and tale, as well as enthusiastic song renditions! The fleet have also been exchanging the fascinating stories behind their yacht names. The adventure continues!
The first rally boats are nearing the halfway mark of their 3000nm sail from the Galapagos to the Marquesas Islands, and are into better breeze after wending their way through the doldrums. The fleet are settling into life at sea and enjoying the twice daily catch up on the Radio net hosted by the wonderful crew onboard Irene IV. Many boats celebrated St.Patrick's Day with delicious baked goods and roast dinners, poetry and limericks are flowing and there's been plenty of whale and dolphin sightings too. Keep posted for further updates from the fleet!
The majority of the rally fleet have now left the Galapagos for the Marquesas Islands. Being the longest passage on the Rally, most of the time they won’t be in sight of another rally yacht. To help everyone stay safe and to pass on vital information, the rally operates an SSB Radio Net, where one yacht communicates twice a day with the rest of fleet via SSB radio. The Oyster World Rally team tracks each yachts position using a YB Tracker, which is installed on each yacht, and is represented on the Rally live map below. Positions are updated 6 times a day (every 4 hours) to enable us to keep track of their progress.
The first of the fleet have now left the Galapagos on the longest ocean delivery of the Oyster World Rally - 3000nm and roughly 3 weeks to the Marquesas Islands. Lying 1,300km northeast of Tahiti and 4800km west of Mexico, the Marqueas Islands group is one of the most remote in the world.
Highlights of the Galapagos so far have been diving at Kicker Rock, meeting the giant tortoises, taking in the lava rocks at Sullivan Bay and meeting some super friendly penguins! Many have also visited the amazing Floreana Island and it's unique Post Office Bay, a sight where 18th-century whalers left postcards for passing sailors to deliver them home. The Post Office is still in operation today and each year thousands of postcards are dropped off and collected by visitors from around the world.
The fleet are absolutely loving exploring the Galapagos and it's islands of San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Santiago and Isabela. Many are taking day trips whilst others have opted to take a guide onboard to experience the wonders of the archipelago off the tourist trail. They have been getting up close to the many incredible and unique species both above and below the water and are settling into life with the resident sea lions!
Yesterday the fleet visited the Galapagos Science Centre to learn about the academic research and projects being carried out in the Galapagos Islands. Leading researchers Daniela Alercon and Juan Pablo, gave a tour of the laboratories and talks on their research into whale migration and micro plastics, as well as the citizen science projects that visitors can get involved with. The fleet headed to the Golden Bay Eco Hotel for sundowners to finish off an eye-opening and educational World Wildlife Day.
Many of the fleet have now crossed the Equator, which has meant lots of frivolity, fun and costumes! When crossing the Equator for the first time, it is tradition to pay homage to King Neptune with a ceremony that takes you from a Pollywog to a Shellback.
The fleet continue to arrive in San Cristobal where they have cleared in and met the many local Sea lions! The Sea lions have lived on the island well before humans moved in, and the fleet have seen them lounging around on anything they can find, including the transoms of their yachts and in their dinghy's!
The support team and first of the rally boats have now arrived in San Cristóbal in the Galápagos Islands. The fleet have seen light winds on the nearly 900nm passage from Panama.
The fleet are now leaving Panama City to continue their journey west, to one of the highlights of their round the world adventure – The Galápagos Islands. Many are exploring the Pearl Islands Islands en route, a group of 200 or more islands and islets 30 miles off the coast of Panama. Waiting for them in The Galápagos is a wondrous mix of creatures seen nowhere else on earth, both on land and under the water. Most yachts will take a Naturalist onboard to explore the uninhabited islands where time has stood still for centuries. Giant Tortoises, blue-footed boobies, swimming Iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs and the famous Darwin finches await. Diving in The Galápagos is a must, to experience the amazing sea-life, and the crews will expect to see copious cheeky sealions, reef and hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and manta, spotted eagle and sting rays.
The second group of yachts are safely through the Panama Canal and enjoying some downtime in the amazing, eclectic, Panama City. A skyline that challenges even New York, with the contrast between new and old. The new with its high rise office and apartment blocks, to the old, with its favelas and remarkable history – such a juxtaposition in how the Panamanians live. The weekend saw young and old take to the streets on bicycles, tricycles, scooters and roller blades to explore the city. They are a nation who love to exercise in the open air and celebrate days not at work. Temperatures have been in the 30’s (centigrade), so outside is certainly a great place to be!
The first 12 yachts are safely tied up at the bottom of the canal after a memorable transit.
With gale force winds, the first 12 Oysters were delayed on Monday until late afternoon before they went to the waiting anchorage, where the canal pilots and advisors join the yachts heading through the canal. By the time the yachts funnelled into the first lock in their nests of 3, it was dark. Looking at the webcam from the locks, it seemed such a huge space for just 12 yachts, but such an amazing sight also. Anchoring overnight in Gatun Lake, the skippers and owners took stock of the day and prepared for the next day of venturing ever south, heading towards the Pacific Ocean. The transit itself was a real adventure, and you will see from the Rally Live Map, that all 12 boats have made it safely to Flamenco and La Playita Marina on the Pacific side.
Today the remaining 11 yachts start their journey through the canal.
A big thanks to the Dock Restaurant at Shelter Bay Marina for their fantastic hospitality last week. They even set up a big screen on the dock to live stream the Super Bowl especially for our American boats!
On Thursday, the fleet took a trip to the world heritage site of Fort San Lorenzo, a fortress built in 1598 to protect the entrance and exit of the main route to the Americas. The weather decided to throw a curve ball and the day started with torrential monsoon like rain which threatened the day. Never to be underestimated, the fleet packed into two buses and headed off. Even a fallen tree blocking the road failed to stop the Oyster crews from reaching their destination. The weather soon cleared and the fleet enjoyed a fun packed day of sightseeing, local entertainment and a pig roast up at the Fort. A birthday for Micky from Skye III was celebrated and a great day was had by all!
It's go go go in Panama, with both fun and formalities! The yachts are currently being measured ahead of their canal transit next week giving them plenty of time for socialising. Many crews enjoyed a great evening last night with Rum and Cigar sampling and Mimosa making, and have attended the 'Intro to French Polynesia' presentation today giving them a taster of what's to come!
The fleet have arrived at Shelter Bay Marina, at the top of the Panama canal, to a wonderful welcome from the marina staff and the manager, Juan Jo Boschetti. The San Blas Islands have been the highlight of the sail from Antigua, and Cartagena and Bonaire are coming in a close second. The fleet have a busy programme whilst in Shelter Bay awaiting their canal transit, including undergoing formalities and paperwork checks for the passage, plus some super events for them to experience. A welcome happy hour at Shelter Bay was enthusiastically attended last night and everyone is looking forward to the famous Fort San Lorenzo party on Thursday!
The Oyster World Rally fleet have now all made it to the amazing San Blas Islands. The rally crews have been snorkelling with tropical fish, turtles, dolphins, stingrays, zebra fish, squid and the most amazing lobsters! The Kunu Indian tribe has been welcoming some of the crew to their island hideaways and lots of bartering has been done – t-shirts in exchange for wonderful seafood – just heaven!
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