So there are now reports of at least five boats that have signaled distress in the new "Salty Dawg Rally". And from what is being reported in the press stories - the conditions don't seem to be all that bad. For example, one quotes the CG as reporting seas of 10'-12'. This is knocking out 5 boats?
This is the link to a now-ironic press release about the "Salty Dawg Rally":
PRESS: New, Free ‘Salty Dawg Rally’ Going ‘Viral’ in the Cruising World
It now seems to be going viral for all the wrong reasons.
It seems all that is required from an experience angle to participate in this rally is at least one off-shore passage:
The Salty Dawg Rally is a grassroots, non-profit organization, comprised of blue water sailors who have completed at least one blue water passage. There is no formal inspection of each boat, since it is the responsibility of each skipper to have proper safety equipment and to ensure that the vessel is prepared for the passage. Information including weather, Gulf Stream analysis, location of eddies, and daily weather forecasts during the passage is provided to each skipper by well‐known weather router Chris Parker, courtesy of Blue Water Sailing magazine. Volunteer Dick Giddings manages float plans for all of the boats in the fleet and maintains a daily SSB radio schedule, as well as daily positions for everyone (via HF radio and SatPhone). It is each skipper’s responsibility to decide the course and whether or not to set out for the passage. The Rally, with an emphasis on safety, communication, camaraderie and fun, opens the door to new friends and experiences while cruising various areas in the Caribbean.
No boat/safety inspection, etc. This is pretty typical. But then we look back to distress/rescues in past rallies such as the NARC, etc. - and you have to wonder...
Is it merely the statistical concentration of this many boats in one rally - and we're simply seeing the standard ratio of distresses to the number of boats? Or is it something else?
Personally, as a dude that has researched off-shore rescues quite a bit, I'm wondering why these kinds of rallies don't require Safety At Sea training like off-shore racing does. Or why don't they at least enforce ISAF rules?
Seriously, what's the difference in the need for this kind of knowledge between racer and cruiser? Aren't dangerous conditions in a sailboat the same for both? Aren't safety procedures for those sailors roughly the same? Sure, the cruiser is inherently more conservative - but does that mean they can, therefore, be less prepared?
Something's wrong here.