Sailors Rally Behind Rally

By Charles Fort

The annual Salty Dawg rally from Virginia to the BVIs is a time-honored ritual for cruising sailors — who are not letting hurricanes alter their voyaging plans.

Sapphire at home in Soper's Hole

For the last few years, sailors have trekked to the BVIs in the fall in a rally organized by the Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA). From Hampton, Virginia, and other points on the East Coast, boats ended the rally at the Bitter End Yacht club on Virgin Gorda. Sailors tend to bond to places of exceptional beauty and friendliness, and Virgin Gorda is one of those places.

This year, Hurricane Irma forced a change. Irma raked the BVIs in September, causing damage and destroying the Bitter End Yacht Club. With the club essentially gone, the destination this year was changed to Falmouth Harbor, Antigua, a place with its own special beauty. But after seeing the devastation from the hurricane in the BVIs — in the spirit of sailors everywhere —SDSA wanted to help.

The Bitter End was in a particularly hard-hit area on Virgin Gorda, with some of the highest winds of any of the BVI Islands. Because of their ties to the yacht club and its employees, the organizers set up the Bitter End Employees Relief Fund with a sizeable donation to those in need.

The sailors also realized that the people in Virgin Gorda needed supplies as well. Why not use the dozens of boats to bring much-needed supplies to the island? A "relief fleet" was organized to bring food and other supplies the islanders needed, leaving the U.S. on November 2, 2017. In addition, the plans to organize containers of additional supplies to be delivered to the island. SDSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by volunteers and is poised to direct funds to the strong Rotary network and other grassroots community efforts in the BVIs. For more on how to help, visit saltydawgsailing.org. 

— Published: October 2017


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