Five states, 800 miles, 7 weeks, 20 boats … we made it! The fleet has officially arrived in St. Augustine! Our last day was an amazing 75 degrees, sunny, with light north winds. The boats arrived at St. Augustine Municipal Marina timed for slack current, about mid-day, departing their staging stops of Beach Marine or Pine Island Anchorage. This is a busy marina in an incredibly popular historic town during the holiday season Nights of Lights but our arrival was coordinated by David Morehead of Guest Services and the marina staff safely directed each boat into its slip.
As the official last stop of the Rally, this is a bit of a relief! Obviously, safety is an important reason that many boaters join an organized event. So now, as far as I’ve heard, we’ve concluded the Rally with no injuries and no gel coat repairs. Yes, there were some little dings along the 800 miles: a bent cotter pin and a damaged stanchion, but, most importantly, there were no sprained ankles, broken toes, or smashed hands. Ultimately, it is all about safety.
Time to unwind with an impromptu docktail gathering. And, it being St. Augustine, it’s not unusual to have pirates wandering the dock. Anyone know this guy? One of the Rallyers asked him, “So, do you wander the docks and join boaters’ parties?” He replied, “Yes, I’m a pirate.” Okay, so he pirated some spirits and nibbles.
I thought I’d conclude this post by sharing thoughts from the fleet on how it feels to have arrived at St. Augustine. I’ll add comments as I hear back from rally members as it sinks in that “they’re here”:
“I guess it seems kind of surreal to think we are really done. St. Augustine could be just another fun place to visit on our journey. It is sad in a way to think that the family that we have had these last few weeks is about to leave for different destinations in a few days. It’s a little scary to think that we will now be on our own.” — Carol & Frank, s/v Hakuna Matata
‘The ‘end’ of the Rally will not hit us until you all disappear and we are alone in St. Augustine. This feels a bit like high school graduation…it marks a moment of transition: We have acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities, and now we get to go out and use them on our own. And we will miss the friends we have shared this with, and our instructors, and we expect to see them from time to time along the way.” — Donna & Rob, s/v Kinship
“We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to end our journey. Our emotions were mixed: joyful for having completed our journey but sad that the Rally is ending. It was much the same as we felt on graduation day with a sense of accomplishment and wondering what the future will bring as we all head our own ways. This voyage is leaving us with lifelong memories and many new friends. We are grateful for having had this opportunity.” — Dwayne & Carla, s/v Foreign Affair
“It is great to be in St. Augustine Florida on December 1st. This is our 11th state after setting out from Maine August 1st. Jayne and I enjoyed the entire voyage with varied scenery, hospitable people in each community and our new cruising friends.” — Rich & Jayne, s/v Ecola2
“To think we weren’t going to be a part of this …yes, when we arrived in Hampton, VA, our plan was to attend to the Rendezvous and push on with our friends on Kinship, BUT the Rendezvous seminars, the experience of the Rally leaders, and the camaraderie of the Rally fleet participants gave us pause to re-consider our options — and re-consider we did. We’ve looked back on the decision to join the Rally fleet many times in the last six weeks and each time we’ve been more convinced it was the best decision we could have made. We’ve learned so much and benefited enormously from both the leaders and our fellow Ralliers! We can honestly say that joining the Rally was one of the best “on the water” decisions we’ve ever made!”—Gil & Charlene, s/v Ithaka
“Just when I was wondering, ‘Is this trip ever going to end?’, we were here and I thought, ‘It’s over already?!'” — Melba & Kirk, s/v Il Nostro Sogno