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!
The whole fleet have left the Caribbean islands and are heading west to Panama. Many have stopped to enjoy the idyllic San Blas Islands, an archipelago consisting of 360 islands north of Panama, on their way to the Panama Canal.
It's amazing to see Oyster 721-01 Intrepid feature in 'The REPORTER' Magazine in Bonaire!
Click here to read the article on page 8, and see how Trevor and Judy have prepared for their circumnavigation.
Most of the rally fleet are now back on the move again after spending quality time in Bonaire, the BVI’s, Guadeloupe and the Grenadines. They are crossing to the west of the Caribbean Sea, heading for either Cartegena, Colombia or the beautiful San Blas Islands. The weather at the moment is a warm 30 degrees with an easterly breeze of up to 20 knots, making for some superb downwind sailing conditions.
6 boats in the fleet are spending time in the rich waters of Bonaire, enjoying the pristine underwater environment which has made it an award winning diving destination. There are more than 85 dive sites, with more than 350 fish species and 57 soft and stony coral species to explore.
Since the rally started the fleet have ventured to Guadeloupe, Dominica, the BVI's, Bonaire and Curaçao to name a few! Scroll down to see the yachts latest positions on the Live Rally Map.
There are essentially 3 routes to Panama. North via the BVI, South via the Caribbean, or South West via the ABC Islands. What we can see today is the fleet taking those three routes and as the week progress we will see the fleet make their way to San Blas & Panama.
25 Oysters have crossed the line and started their Oyster World Rally! His excellency Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda fired the canon from Fort Charlotte and wished the fleet on their way. Conditions were perfect with 20 knots of breeze and full sunshine! What an incredible sight!
The fleet will meet again in Panama for their transit through the canal in mid February. Keep posted on the Rally Live page for regular updates on the fleets progress.
Crews have made their final preparations ahead of the start tomorrow and been briefed in the skippers meeting. The fleet were blessed by the Royal Naval Tot club of Antigua and Barbuda and toasted with the traditional rum tot as the sun set over the Dockyard.
The fleet have been briefed on weather from Antigua to Panama, and took part in Media Training to help capture the very best of their journey.
Today the fleet took part in Sea Mercy training and received their eye and light kits which they will distribute as they sail around the world. In the afternoon our Galapagos agent spoke to them about tours, formalities, weather and geology.
The crews have been busy taking part in a number of activities this week, to include Sea Survival and Cookery courses plus a Brewery Tour. Just 3 days to go until the start!
Tonight many of the fleet will see in the New Year watching the fireworks over Nelson’s Dockyard, a year that we see them sail more than half way across the globe! From the whole Oyster World Rally team, we wish you all fair winds and a very Happy New Year!
Oyster’s technical team are now all in Antigua carrying out final checks on the rally boats, ahead of the start in 12 days.
Yesterday evening the fleet gathered for the Welcome Party at Boom Restaurant, overlooking Nelson’s Dockyard. It was great to catch up with all the crews that have arrived pre-Christmas and enjoy some delicious drinks and nibbles.
Just 3 weeks to go until the rally start! The countdown is on and the excitement is really mounting in Antigua now.
It’s amazing to see the Oyster World Rally fleet starting to assemble in Nelson’s Dockyard, Oyster’s spiritual home in the Caribbean and the base for the start of the rally.
Oyster support staff Rachel and Gavin have arrived in Antigua to start the final checks before the fleet head off in 4 weeks’ time.
The first rally boats have started arriving in Grenada having completed the ARC + from Las Palmas via the Cape Verdes. Congratulations to all the teams on their transatlantic crossing, especially those doing it for the first time!
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