Cruising in company


We catch up with Two Drifters.

For the first time since starting our sailing adventure we’ve joined an on-shore rally, becoming one of 40 boats that will cruise together through some very interesting, adventurous and sometimes dangerous destinations in South and Central America.

Our five-month adventure on the Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) Suzie Too Rally started late November. It is taking us through very exciting waters, some of which have had a problem with piracy, and this is the main reason why we chose this rally. Cruising in the company of other boats with an organised itinerary gives us security and peace of mind; it’s like buddy-boating on a grand scale. 


However, my emotions about being with so many boats flip-flop. This rally is very popular and already we’ve seen that 40 boats jostling for pole position in an anchorage can be a challenge.

Now into our fifth year of sailing on Two Drifters, I’ve got used to the more reclusive lifestyle of a live-aboard and I’ve relaxed into the introvert side of my personality. For much of my working life it’s been the extrovert side that’s been dominant and I’ve never had a problem holding my own in a group of people. Yet I find a large cluster of experienced sailors conversing together can be quite intimidating, especially when there’s rum involved! My husband revels in the conversation and camaraderie; while I much prefer the more intimate gatherings.

On the flip side, there’s a support network in place for all of us. While there are 40 boats in our group, sailing two weeks behind us is another group of about 25 boats, all swapping information gleaned about our current and forthcoming ports of call. 

It’s like land-living with a community in place and for the first time since we started on our adventure we have neighbours; people we enjoy the company of to share tours and cars with, to regularly meet for dinner and who can also dog sit as there are many times we want to explore a National Park, museum or art gallery where Molly, our cocker spaniel isn’t allowed.  At this stage, it’s refreshing and rejuvenating, and I really hope it stays that way.

The rally holds a daily catch up on VHF where the current weather is discussed, as well as information about tours and trips and events. For those that have the inclination, each port of call includes regular yoga, noodle-fit and music jam sessions; not to mention organised group dives, drinks and get-togethers. 

This week we safely sailed to another continent and passed under the awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range at sun rise. This breathtakingly beautiful site has a reputation among sailors with the potential to create some very dangerous sailing conditions with katabatic winds that scream down from the 18,000 foot peaks and out to sea. But careful planning and weather information shared among the rally limited our experience to only 35 knots of wind and three-metre seas.

There will be some ports where we will be anchored on top of each other, but I’m also hoping for plenty of opportunity to be one of just a few boats enjoying a spectacular sunset in a quiet bay. 

More from Two Drifters:

Follow that dream
Sailing the Western Mediterranean
Sailing the Ionian - the making of a novice sailor
The challenge of the night watch
Go West
Cruising the Canaries