April 1st, 2012

Why Join an ICA Rally

I often get asked, “why join a rally?” The answer is, many and varied and in many respects it’s individual. In most cases the benefits of a rally are not fully seen until you’re there doing it. We often get participant coming up to us and saying “the rally fee is too cheap” and “its great value for money”. The problem is, these are the exact same people who said, “That’s a bit expensive” or “Why should we join” before the start. To date we haven’t had anyone come up and say it wasn’t worth the entry fee.

Apart from the physical value in tee shirts, battle flags, Log book info, Cruising Guides, etc, etc there are a host of other benefits from joining a rally. In the lead up to the rallies from Opua participants receive various resources covering topics for first time cruisers and old salts, right through to info on weather, Local customs, clearance procedures and internal movement procedures, charts and chartlets & info on anchorages, info on the Minerva reefs, info on where to get what in the SW Pacific and who best to see. We also have a network of “Port Captains” throughout the south pacific for specific assistance, parts procurement, mail and parcel drops, plus general help.

Duty Free goods are arranged at special ICA prices including, grog, tobacco, fuel, meat, frozen bread and bread dough and on the eve of departure the organic shop supply fresh fruit and veggies.
Customs clearance from NZ is arranged for the Friday with departure the following day. This allows you time to get the duty free stored and take a breath before starting on the passage, this is only available to ICA rally participants.

In the week before the rally departure there are briefings on NZ custom clearance and MAF requirements, weather, medical, clearance procedures and what to expect in the islands, rally radio skeds and rally clearance procedures plus an early bird BBQ and cocktail evening at the Opua Cruising Club to get to know others in the fleet.

Special morning and evening radio skeds are held during the rally and we are available for radio checks and assistance prior to the start. Our Port Captain in Opua also acts as a message service for emergency traffic. For more benign inquiries, position reports are forwarded to our Opua Port Captains and friends and family are able to call there for info. This year for the second time we have our “Yacht Position” page up and running for rally participants. Friends and family can access the page and see exactly where you are each day.

For those who have email on board we also provide a daily fleet position report including lat, long, weather and sea state for each vessel.

Daily weather updates are given during the rally, specific to your current position plus a general picture.

2012 sees the first Western Pacific rally. The initial destination is Anatom in southern Vanuatu then on through the Solomons, Louisiades and Australia before heading back to NZ from Hobart in February 2013. Special clearances have been arranged into the Solomons and Louisiades for the fleet.

2013 sees the return of the Pacific Circuit Rally which progresses around the Pacific and clears into idyllic spots rather than the main ports and bring the clearance officials to you. Again special clearance provisions apply for ICA boats and the list of benefits rolls on again.

Above all, the rallies are designed not only to be safe but a fun experience for all, there are a variety of fun events and competitions during the rally that are entirely voluntary and there are prizes for all participants.

That is a general overview of a rally, to highlight all the benefits would take all day. There are also the intangibles. There is a sense of community in a rally that you don’t get sailing by yourself, you are introduced early to the other participants and I can tell you from our own experience that some of our best friends have been made during ICA rallies. There is also a wealth of experience when you put a number of cruisers together, not to mention that spare part you need but don’t have, chances are one of the others will.

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