Ft. Lauderdale, FL – After months of preparation, organization and anticipation, the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally 2004 is underway. On Sunday, May 16,th, the first half of the fleet departed Port Everglades, Florida at precisely 4 pm. As scheduled, the second half of the fleet departed 24 hours later. A total of 18 trawlers, from 40 to 90 feet in length, are now in route to Bermuda, their first stop on their epic 3,800 mile Atlantic Ocean crossing.
Their lat/long positions are being posted to Nordhavn’s website twice each day utilizing SkyMate data communications and can be seen at www.nordhavn.com/rally/underway/tracking.htm.
Onboard commentary from various crewmembers is also being posted on www.nordhavn.com/rally/underway/commentary.htm. All vessels are expected to arrive in Bermuda on Saturday, May 22nd after this 600-mile first leg.
The departure was not without incident, however, as the ICW was temporarily closed on Sunday afternoon due to a fire in the engine room of a small cruise ship. “After months of careful preparation and organization, it seemed that a last minute, bizarre incident was going to delay our departure,” said Jim Leishman, Nordhavn’s Vice President and captain of Atlantic Escort. Fortunately, the waterway was re-opened minutes before the fleet gathered in the harbor’s turning basin before heading out to sea.
The fleet consists of one Nordhavn 40, five Nordhavn 46s, one Nordhavn 47, two Nordhavn 50s, a Seaton 55, three Nordhavn 57s, a Krogen 58, three Nordhavn 62s and a Monk-McQueen 90. This is the first rally of its kind for powerboats and is designed to provide captains and crew with the added support of a group crossing. Three of the Nordhavns are serving as escort vessels and will be carrying emergency medical staff, technicians, extra fuel and spare parts.
“Each boat must be self-sufficient and capable of making this crossing on their own,” adds Leishman. “But it’s comforting to know that we are traveling together, and that in an emergency we may be able to offer assistance.” Atlantic Escort has been specially rigged for towing, and each boat has been fitted with a towing ring at its bow. To qualify for the Rally, the boats had to pass an inspection certifying they had the fuel range and overall seaworthiness to make the voyage. The captains and crew also had to complete at least one 600-mile or more offshore passage on their vessels.
After arriving in Bermuda, the fleet will enjoy a week of de-briefing and social activities at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club before departing on the second leg, an 1,800 mile crossing to the Azores. “This 600-mile voyage to Bermuda can be considered our ‘shake-down’ cruise,” comments Nordhavn’s President, Dan Streech. “We’ll have the time and resources in Bermuda to fix, adjust and fine- tune things before heading for the Azores.” Streech is aboard San Souci, one of the Nordhavn 62 escort vessels.
During the Bon Voyage dinner Saturday evening, Streech and Leishman talked about the incredible support Nordhavn has received from its many sponsors. “The folks from Lugger engines, American Bow Thruster& Stabilizers, Furuno, SkyMate and others have been terrific in providing technical support to our participants,” commented Streech. Several sponsors conducted seminars during the week before departure. Topics included engine maintenance, electronics and systems troubleshooting, navigation, and medical emergencies.
Yachting and MotorBoating magazines hosted a send-off luncheon on Friday where Peter Janssen, Editorial Director of both publications, gave a keynote speech. “Peter’s speech was poignant, powerful and emotional as he was able to capture in words the special moment in yachting history which was about to take place,” added Dan Streech. Both magazines as well as other top boating publications have editors aboard each leg.
On Saturday, both Dan Streech and Jim Leishman appeared live on the radio show, “World of Boating,” heard coast-to-coast on the Sirius satellite network. The Rally has captured the attention of the media and promises to be written into the history books as a major yachting event.
Creating history is not new to Nordhavn, as it set a record in 2001 for going around the world on its 40-foot model. Jim Leishman and other Nordhavn crewmembers took their 40-foot production boat 26,000 miles from California across the Pacific Ocean to Asia, through the Middle East and the Mediterranean, across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal. Although experiencing typhoon conditions and gale force storms, the 25-week voyage was successfully completed without a major breakdown or mishap.
Nordhavn designs and manufactures a complete line of trawler-styled yachts from 35 to 76 feet. Based in Dana Point, California, it has additional offices in Newport, Rhode Island and Stuart, Florida. This summer, it is opening its newest office in the U.K. For more information, contact Jenny Stern at 401-846-6490 or visit www.nordhavn.com.