The joys of being part of the Oyster Rally
Paul and I have always been huge fans of Oyster. Their yachts are pure class, the craftsmanship in building them is second to none. The detail, style and luxury is what sets Oyster apart from their competitors. It’s one thing to sail around the world but it’s a whole other thing to do it on an oyster and it really can’t possibly get better than to undertake an adventure like this as part of the Oyster World Rally, the most prestigious yacht rally ever to be held!
We have done our fair share of Oyster events in the past. we actually fell in love at the Oyster Regatta in the British Virgin Islands 8 years ago on an Oyster 56′, Spellbound. Paul originally worked in Oyster Commissioning and then ran the 56′ for a few years for our great friends Paul and Lynn Armson. He continued doing bits and pieces for Oyster and I tagged along for a couple of these events. Events that stand out for me include racing at the Palma Oyster Regatta on Oyster 72′ Luskentyre and then racing at the Americas Cup base in Valencia on Oyster 62′ Great Bear. Liz Whitman worked for Oyster at the time and it was her who really set the tone of Oyster for me. The events were like prestigious, luxurious family parties and always had a friendly jovial atmosphere mixed with fine dining, a balance difficult to achieve. In fact I believe it was originally Liz’s idea to run this world rally to mark Oysters 40th birthday. It’s great that David Tydeman and the crew at Oyster went ahead with this rally, it has certainly been all that we’ve come to expect from Oyster and a whole lot more!
Shore Side Support
Well, where would we all be without our Rally support team, Eddie Scougall and Debbie Johnson (aka Ebbie)? They have been absolutely superb and always a welcome sight when we arrive at new destinations. They are normally dockside awaiting our arrival or contactable on a designated Oyster VHF channel. Even before we set off for each new location they provide us with all the necessary paperwork in advance making the customs and emigration process run smoothly and quickly.
For us as a professionally run yacht with four full-time crew one would think we don’t need them, but that’s not the case. LUSH set off on a circumnavigation straight from build and she has sailed around the world in super quick time, as with the rest of the fleet. Having this shore side support has made our jobs a lot easier, whether it’s tips on the best food markets for me, spare parts for our engineer Al or paperwork and visa info for Paul along with addresses on where to get spare parts sent to. This all helps to run a new yacht on such a quick schedule and so successfully. Obviously, they have been busier with some of the lesser-crewed yachts and we are all so grateful to them for quite simply doing an outstanding job and running a world class event.
Jackie Kotze has also played a big part in the Oyster support team. From her office at Oyster headquarters, in Ipswich, Jackie has done an terrific job of looking after the admin, and co-coordinating the rally and various events from base.
The Rally Participants
The camaraderie between the yachts on this trip and the friendships we have made and developed is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. Everyone looks out for one another, helps each other out, sharing tips and secrets along the way. The girls get together chatting about all the comings and goings on various yachts, on food markets, shopping etc.. and the lads get together and talk shop! Listen, I love talking ‘boats’ but all day, every day? Seriously lads, is there nothing else to talk about? In fairness though it’s been just one laugh after another, one party after another, one rum after another.
When offshore we all keep in touch via the SSB radio sched run by Ian Davis, from yacht Yantina. He does a mighty job of it and the boats chat twice daily on the offshore passages discussing their position, weather, boat speed and any concerns etc. The range on the radio is pretty impressive, we’ve been in touch with the fleet from over 1000nm apart! It’s hard to think it will soon all come to an end with the final rally bash in Antigua on the 5th of April. There’s already chat of a reunion and no doubt there’ll be plenty in the years ahead. We’ve all shared this most extraordinary epic adventure together and a dream for all of us has come true. To circumnavigate this globe really is some feat and it’s all the sweeter that we can share the achievement together and chat about the wonderful places, people and experiences over the coming years. Who knows where we’ll all be next year, let alone ten years from now but one thing is certain while yachts will come and go these friendships will endure and surly that is the best measure of any journey!
One Life.. Live and Share it!
We’re currently flying along the North Atlantic Ocean and expect to arrive in Antigua tomorrow!! Our final Circumnavigation blogs will follow albeit not immediately.. there’ll be some well earned champagne to drink first and I can’t think of a better excuse to crack a bottle open!!!