We recently crossed the Atlantic with the Islands Odyssey and would do it again. I know not everyone likes to travel with rallies. We weren't big on it ourselves and were turned off by the price
and magnitude of the ARC. We were going to sail with the Atlantic Odyssey but wanted to stop in Cape Verde
. They must have read my mind because they added the Islands Odyssey in 2015 with plans for more stops in 2016, Barbados
We have a small son onboard and the social events
were kind of important. We were cruising the mediterranean
where kid boats were extremely rare. Our son was unhappy and we were ready to pull the plug
on the entire adventure. It was such a relief to pull into Lanzarote where he met loads of other kids
. They played together while the parents were preparing for the crossing and almost all of the boats with kids
were in one rally or another.
It was cost effective. Our insurer gave us a small discount for joining the Odyssey. Our friend on the ARC said the insurance
discount practically paid for the ARC entry fee. While the ARC is a few thousand dollars the Odyssey is 400-500 (and less if you have kids onboard). It's a refreshing alternative to something that used to be free and voluntary. I factored in the cost of marina berths of the Odyssey compared to if we go it alone and I think they might make about a $100/boat. No idea what they pay staff but they aren't making much profit for how well organised it is.
Sometimes its not an emergency
, you just need a little help. Our friend's engine
was belching thick black smoke and the rally organisers were able to put him in contact with a mechanic
over the sat phone
. When that didn't solve the problem they also had a mechanic
waiting for him upon his arrival. Need doctors advice on a bit of medication you bought in a foreign land? Not every situation requires the EPIRB
be popped. The rally is good for those situations. Call the MRCC for the serious ones.
The daily position reports were handy. We could see we were travelling in a loose pack of 4 boats that were 10-30 miles apart. Sometimes you couldn't see them, not even on AIS
but you knew they were close by. We even tried to set up a mid-Atlantic fish
swap meet. They had plenty of Mahi and we were loosing plenty of lures. It helped with the weather
routing. If you saw a rally boat that was gaining speed you could determine where the good winds were blowing.
Our rally pulled into Bridgetown, Barbados
. We shook hands, hugged, a show was put on for us and we were interviewed by the schoolchildren about our experience. We were handed a nice fat jug of rum
punch and a few husks of coconut water
. And it made us feel really special, like we worked for 2 weeks straight and accomplished something.