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Sail away for the OCC Suzie Too Rally 2018

by Jenevora Swann 31 Oct 12:21 UTC
Boats gather on the pontoon at Santa Barbara Beach Resort for the start of the OCC ‘Suzie Too Rally'. L- R: Jenevora Swann (s/v Two Drifters); Fiona Bailey (s/v Supertramp), Suzanne Chappell (s/v Suzie Too); Jules Buckley (s/v Mojito). Dogs: Molly; Chloe © Jenevora Swann

There's an air of anticipation and excitement at Spanish Waters in Curaçao as boats are gathering for the start in late November of the second Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) 'Suzie Too Rally 2018/19'. Over 60 boats from nine different countries are taking part in this popular rally, which will see like-minded sailors exploring ports and coves in South America, Central America and the Western Caribbean.

Rally organiser, Suzanne Chappell, Roving Rear Commodore OCC, is working tirelessly to ensure the boats and crews can have the best adventure possible. She has planned an impressive five-month itinerary taking in Aruba, Colombia, San Blas, Panama, the Bay Islands of Honduras and culminating in Belize in April 2019. In order to avoid over-populating some destinations, the boats are split into two groups and will start two weeks apart.

Suzanne says, "I organised a similar rally in 2016 with the aim of cruising in company to some of the more off-the-beaten-track destinations and was surprised and encouraged by the support from the governments in some countries and their willingness to assist us. By developing these contacts, this year's OCC 'Suzie Too Rally', will benefit so much more. For instance, the Colombian Navy have given the rally boats permission to anchor within the Naval zone, a restricted area, which will give us added security. They will monitor our passage from entering Colombian waters and will greet us on arrival. We've also had some destinations waive their check-in fee for us as they see the importance of bringing structured tourism into their countries. Some marinas and harbours have offered us a group discount and are going out of their way to help us organise tours and events. I am thrilled and delighted by the warm reception we are receiving."

Suzanne continues, "Curaçao offers an excellent destination for the rally start as it is out of the hurricane zone, has a large harbour at Spanish Water for the boats to congregate in and a fantastic boatyard and hauling facilities at Curaçao Marine, which many of our boats are utilising. Curaçao Marine have been incredibly supportive and are one of the rally's main sponsors. I would also like to thank the Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort for hosting the events in the run up to the rally, and for their wonderful welcome to all our participants. Many of the boats are also making use of the facilities at the resort's marinas."

The Curaçao Ports Authority and Harbour Master have also given the OCC 'Suzie Too Rally' their huge support. They have allocated a secure area in Spanish Water for the boats to anchor together, assigning additional safety, security lighting and garbage facilities and a dinghy dock.

In addition, and totally unprecedented, the Minister of Economic Development, Dr Steven Martina; Curaçao Ports Authority Managing Director, Humberto de Castro; Chief Commercial Officer, Raul Manotas and Harbour Master, Marlon La Roche have allowed the rally boats freedom of movement to explore Curaçao's beautiful anchorages. Mr La Roche has arranged for the rally skippers to purchase a permit enabling them to just email the Harbour Master when they change their anchorage. Normally, just a three-day permit is allocated for fixed dates and pre-agreed locations. This freedom of movement is an incredible accomplishment for Suzanne Chappell who says, "If the trial permit is successful, the Port Authority may roll this out to other boats, which will increase the popularity of Curaçao as a destination of choice during the hurricane season as it will give cruisers the safety of Spanish Waters and the beauty of Klein Curaçao and the bays on the north west of the island to explore at their leisure."

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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