Arrival of the Viking Explorers Rally to Grenada
Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina, Grenada, 11th of February 2021
After the departure on the 9th of January the international fleet finally arrived after 18-20 days out at sea, covered almost 3000 miles that separates the Canary Islands from Grenada and was welcomed by the Health department, Port Louis Marina Manager and the Grenada Tourism Authority. Sailors were guided by the waiting Marina staff to a designated quarantine dock, indeed many had been tracking the fleet on the tracking fleet page so everything was meticulously organized for every arrival boat.
This event has been a very special one this year, with a Pandemic, a storm just before the departure and canceled flights that affected not only participants but also the organization that had to be as flexible as possible.
The fleet departed also 3 days later, as Captains decided at the skippers briefing in the Royal Yacht Club of Gran Canaria to leave after the named storm Filomena, that stroked the Canary Islands just at the departure. An unusual storm approaching the Canary Islands from the West, causing floods, heavy winds and high seas on the Islands.
Finally 7 boats and crews from Sweden, Norway, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, England, Italy, Canada, Bermuda and Argentina left Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on their way across the Atlantic towards the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada, the spice island of the Caribbean, as it is known.
Tracking the boats this year was crucial as to provide proof to authorities that no boat had stopped on its way. Boats were monitored this year not only by the onshore tracking team, but also by the Seven Seas Cruising Association and Boat Watch. The ever changing situation with the pandemic made it difficult but the exceptional camaraderie, collaboration of everyone and flexibility just helped to create an even bigger bond, at these difficult times. So again as every year a nice Viking Explorers family was established. One of the ethos of the rally is not to be the biggest one, but the friendliest with a maximum of 25 boats.
PCR tests were performed and tracking systems were installed to comply with the protocols of the arrival port of call and safety of the crews.With the determination of the Viking Explorers team, collaborating at all times in a nice teamwork with authorities and sailors, provided another safe and fun event in this 4th edition.
Special thanks to Mrs. Charlotte Fairhead, manager of Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina for her constant help, the Grenada Tourism Authority and the Minister of Health, Chief and all his team for their commitment.
This year sailors experienced a fast crossing with tradewinds of 18-25 knots most of the time “ downhill to the Caribbean “ and to the surprise of many no boat experienced any squalls or adverse weather.
After the arrival in Grenada crews enjoyed for a few days this island with its stunning forests and beautiful waterfalls and perfect anchorage bays before the traditional Welcome Ceremony and the fun price giving that had to be organized within the latest existing health protocols.
Oliver Solanas Heinrichs.managing director welcomed all sailors, Mrs.Chinel Sandy from the Tourism Authority and Charlotte Fairhead , manager of the marina, congratulated the sailors for their achievement and welcomed them on the island. A local steel orchestra “ New Dimensions “ performed with traditional instruments while everyone was excited and emotional. Local Westerhall Rum company sponsored this party and a nice free buffet was served together with the famous Rum Punch that ensured a fun caribbean atmosphere.
The crews were asked to go on stage, where they received certificates, gifts and a warm applause by all the Viking Explorers. Many funny moments and some tears could be seen among the participants that were thrilled to be part of this nice group of sailors and having fulfilled their dreams of crossing the Atlantic.
“Thank you so much to everyone, organizers, the local people and all our new friends. To be part of such an exclusive smaller fleet makes the difference and we are so happy to have been part of it. “ commented Anders from Sv Clementine.
The famous fun prize giving started with the prize for the biggest boat to Captain Jim Greetham, with his Lagoon 52 “Site Office”, who performed an impromptu New Zealand dance on stage, followed by all the other prizes, like Captain Robert Petersen, who received the price for being the youngest skipper of the fleet with 35 years of age. With his Hallberg Rassy 41 Ketch and his amazing family with 4 adults and his three sons Leon 4, Milo 6, Melwin 8.
The prize for the oldest skipper went to Captain Robin Jan Vlug from Sv Bilby ( Lagoon 42 ) with 64 years, even his beautiful dog “ Sally” received a gift for her achievement.
The price for the newest boat went to Terry Pimentel, captain of Inuksuk III, with his brand new Boreal 47.
This year the prize for the spirit of the Viking Explorers went to Captain Anders from Sv Clementine (Dufour 42) who among other things donated his old liferaft and co-organized the liferaft demo before departure on the Canary Islands. Instructive and a lot of fun for the kids
The concept of Viking Explorers seems to be liked by real cruisers wanting to cross the social way, in a smaller group , as we say “ The Viking Explorers Family” and the organizers are looking already into the 5th edition with already 15 confirmed entries and many on the preliminary list.
The start is from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria every year on the 6th of January.
This year participants had the choice of two routes, the direct route to Port Louis Marina in Grenada, 2800 miles, or with an alternative stop in Mindelo, 850 miles and then 2200miles.
The Viking Explorers is a small reduced fleet with a maximum of 25 boats. The ethos is not the biggest possible group, but the friendliest one and there is no compulsory equipment. The Viking Explorers tries not to be so commercial as other events and focuses much more on an easy going familiar atmosphere.
Viking Explorers is not a race and the organization encourages the fleet to help each other.
The first Viking Explorers left Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 2018 to Barbados being a completely free event with no sponsors.
Since 2018 , the Viking Explorers do charge a low fee and have been supported by Tourism Authorities, companies, cruising associations and passionate sailors.
The Viking Explorers Rally is sponsored by the Grenada Tourism Authority, Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina and Westerhall Rum. It has also the support from minor sponsors called “ Friends of Viking Explorers”, like Imray, Hydrovane, Predictwind, Puerto of Tazacorte and Island Dreams Grenada.
It has the support of cruising associations as the Seven Seas Cruising Association, the Ocean Cruising Club and Anavre ( spanish Cruising Association)
The Viking Explorers make a great effort in helping the environment. It collaborates with the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Program Sail and Whale. Participants are encouraged to forward data with the sighting of cetaceans.
Also many Eco-friendly companies are supporting the event by offering free products to participants as to introduce them into this Eco-friendly world. Naturbrush, Bambaw, Abeego and Superbee donated many products for testing.
The Viking Explorers tries to reduce their negative impact towards the environment, reduces drastically plastic used at their events, and creates awareness within the sailing community for a better and cleaner planet.
The organization has been in constant contact with the authorities and have introduced all health protocols within their rally. PCR test have been organized with the collaboration of the Hospital Perpetuo Socorro, as boats will only be able to leave with a negative result obtained a few hours before departure. The crews are advised to take extra cautions and to follow at all times the changing protocols.
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