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Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Crew

As it has turned out, the biggest nail-biter of preparing for the Salty Dawg Rally has been establishing our four-person crew.  Clearly, Carl and I are the Captain and First Mate.  Two down.  Two to go.

"No rowers needed for our sailboat."
Interest was expressed by two of our Duluth sailing friends initially.  One of them switched to another friend’s boat in July, a boat that would not be going as far, but no problem for us.  We just needed to find one more crew member and it was only July.  Plenty of time to look.
Can you find Antigua?  Way to the right, mid-line

The Salty Dawg Rally sponsors a site where sailors interested in crewing can post their sailing resumes.  This allows boats like ours, that are looking for additional crew, to learn something about the sailors, their blue water (ocean) passage experience, their racing, or boat delivery experiences.  
Alternative foul-weather gear?

Many of them have special skills in areas such as diesel engines, electronics etc.  Carl got right on that task, reviewing lots of resumes and initiated contact with several parties. 

Is this what happens in the Bermuda Triangle?
We were a bit overwhelmed seeing so many sailors with impressive sailing backgrounds.  Many have crewed on Rally boats in previous years. We discovered that many of the most experienced folks had been snapped up by other boats very early on.  
 Beautiful Antigua

We also learned that some crew were looking for specific sorts of boat experiences.  For example, sailing on a 50 to 60’ boat would mean more personal space for each crew member.  And the longer the sailboat, the faster she can sail.  Makes sense to me that if you’ve already sailed 20 kinds of boats between 30 and 50’, you might want another kind of experience this go-round.
Racing boat.  Wouldn't it be great to sail on her?

In August, we ran into a couple that we first met two years ago on our way south.  We and they were stuck in Morehead City for a few days, waiting for a storm to pass.  We enjoyed their company.  We ran into them again in the Bahamas, and here they are again, living in a house in Oriental.  They had just put their beautiful boat on the market which means that they would not be sailing to the Bahamas this winter.  
Beautiful sloop.  Crew of two.

We mentioned our plans for the Caribbean and the Salty Dawg Rally.  The next morning, they stopped by and the wife whispered in my ear. “If you are still looking for a fourth person, Harry would love to go.”  Now, Harry had just passed by me  saying ‘good morning’ and no more.  Ah, she was letting us know the ball was in our court. 
We will land on the southern shore.

I went to find Carl and he was as pleased as I was.  We knew Harry to be a lifelong sailor, an avid racer in the Great Lakes and the east coast, and had significant blue water sailing experience.  Did we want Harry?  Yes, we did. We had our crew of four.

This is not our sailboat.
In September, we learned that our Crew member #3 in Duluth was having to withdraw from the Dawg.  He couldn’t afford the time away from work.  Back to searching for a fourth crew member. Sigh.
 Black Pearl, of Pirates of the

We took a trip to Wilmington in September to visit friends we’d met two years previously in Annapolis.  The husband of the couple is, in fact the brother of one of our Duluth friends, and grew up sailing in the Caribbean. We enjoyed our visit with them.  

Jack Sparrow, quintessential pirate of the Caribbean
As we drove back to Oriental, we considered asking him if he would be interested in sailing the Dawg with us.  We decided we would ask and he said he was interested.  Yea!  Four crew again!

Our destination, Antigua, actually south of Barbuda
A week later, we were back down to three.  Carl and me, with Harry, our third crew member.  Our Wilmington friend, sadly, needed to bow out for personal reasons.  Carl dug back into the list of sailors’ resumes. There were still a few people that had not committed to other boats.  Surely, we would find a match there yet. 

If you are the owner of this boat, you might hire a delivery crew
to sail your boat to the Caribbean.
We also consulted with Harry.  Maybe he knew somebody here in Oriental that would be interested?  Harry was able to tell us that there were many people in this area that would be willing to sail to Antigua…..for a price; he knew sailors that would be interested in boat delivery jobs. 
Another perspective.  Antigua is in the red square.

In this part of North Carolina, hiring one’s boat to be delivered to a distant location is not uncommon for persons of a certain financial status.  We are, however, not of that status.  We were looking for crew that would contribute to food costs on the passage, and that would arrange for their own flights back to the States after getting to the Caribbean.
Open market on Antigua

Carl also was in contact with another Duluth acquaintance that we had learned might be available.  A few hopeful days passed in mid-September.  He really wanted to crew with us.  Could he pull it together?  Would he?  Alas, no.

Carl and me, plus Harry.  A three person crew.  Too few!  I felt bleary-eyed and exhausted just thinking about sharing watch with only two other people for ~10 days.   
A fantastic, enormous sloop.

Then the resume list came through for us in the form of Luke.  Luke, a fresh-faced college kid who has sailed since he was a small boy.  Luke, who sailed the Salty Dawg Rally last year on an Alberg 35.  An Alberg 35!  An older, classic boat that offers little protection from rain and waves.  
Alberg 35

A beautiful, but narrow boat with close quarters for crew. If Luke could do that, he could certainly share watch with three older guys (Carl, Harry and me) and share more space than he could have had on the smaller Alberg. 

Draw an imaginary line east from Virginia, then south.
We are a crew of four again!  Northern Star will be joining the other sailboats gathering together in Hampton in another week or more.  We will start the process of mingling with the other sailors.  There will be discussions about emergency procedures, weather routing, communication, watch schedules and so much more.  We are on our way!  Woo-hoo!

Stay tuned for more later.
*All photos taken from Google Images.

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