Way too many boats for our comfort!
What were we thinking?! If there are two boats in an anchorage, we usually deem it too crowded and move on. And we thought we wanted to sail with 130 other boats?
While in Darwin we were feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of boats and boaters. It was busy and crowded, but we still thought it might be fun. Then the rally organizers held a ‘compulsory’ information session (about five hours!) a few days before the rally was to begin. Some of the questions that were asked were informative in themselves – “What is a Q flag?”. We suddenly realized that we were not only putting our boat and ourselves in the midst of more than 100 other boats, but many of those boats had never left their home turf before. We were beginning to think that sailing with the rally might be more of a risk than we were willing to assume. We knew that the rally was not for us before we even left Darwin.
We did not leave Darwin with the rally. We were anchored near the starting line, and approximately 100 boats were starting together despite high wind warnings. We decided to stay put for one more day to watch the weather and have a bit more ocean to ourselves.
We did leave the following day with nice weather conditions. About five other boats also left that day.
We had an uneventful 472 mile sail that took us three days and three hours. We only saw a few other boats until we were approaching Kupang, and we passed a few of the slower boats that had started a day ahead of us.
We heard a few interesting rally stories when we arrived in Kupang that involved near misses. Friends of ours had to make a quick gybe during the first night out to avoid a collision. Apparently the other boat was not keeping watch because it did not respond to radio calls nor did it alter course before, During, or after causing the stand-on boat to take evasive action.
We attended one rally ‘function’ in Kupang – a dinner – and decided to leave the rally behind. A few days later, most of the rally participants headed northeast to Alor. We headed southwest to Roti.
Our friend, Rolf (SY Moana), summed it up very well. He cited the rally as a communal experience that provides company, parties, and peace of mind that you are not alone. However, sailing alone provides adventure, more personal encounters, and memories that cannot emerge from a group. We choose the adventure.