The weather finally turned. At just after midnight on Saturday morning, the cold front that had been stalled just west of the Chesapeake Bay for days, bringing wet, foggy, misty weather to the fleet, finally pushed offshore with a flurry of rain showers and thunderstorms, clearing the air for a gorgeous early morning. The full moon – the rally was planned around it after all – finally showed it’s face as the fleet re-entered the Chesapeake Bay, and the day dawned clear and cool, a fresh northwesterly breeze propelling everyone south on the rally’s final leg.
“We set a speed record today of 9.3 knots,” said one of the crew from Zephyr. Many others mentioned the same, as it was fast reaching conditions on flat water Saturday morning.
By late afternoon all but one of the 18 yachts who’d completed the DelMarVa loop had arrived in Annapolis. Sea Quinn, who’d elected to spend an extra day in Cape May, were on their way up the Delaware Bay when the final prizegiving dinner began at the Eastport Democratic Club.
Crews began arriving at just before 6pm. The buffet table was set, and the bar was open. A slideshow of photos from the past week played on the big screen inside, and the din of excited chatter among the sailors grew louder and louder as the place filled up.
“Thanks to you all for coming this evening, and congratulations on completing such a big challenge!” said event manager Andy Schell as the crews sat down to eat. “It certainly was made more difficult by the adverse weather this week. You should all be very proud of yourselves. Let’s raise a glass to a great accomplishment” With that, the crews toasted their achievement and continued the revelry.
A while later the prizes were announced. Though the DelMarVa was a non-competitive event, several awards were up for grabs. Some of them – like the Weems & Plath 'Navigator’s Award' – were actively competed for, with crews turning in their logbooks to be judged on accuracy and traditional seamanship. Others – like the 'I’ll Never Do That Again' Award – were more humor-based, and simply invented during the week as stories were shared among the fleet.
To kick things off, the crew from Dana Marie were the ‘Best Fishing Attempt’ award for their prowess on the offshore leg. They did manage to catch a small bluefish for their efforts, and were awarded a flag.
Following that, crews were invited to the front of the room to compete for the ‘Best Bruise’ award, something that was created in the 2012 Caribbean 1500, a particularly rough passage that year. Crews from three boats
The ‘Communications Award’ went to Molly Kate. The award was given sort of tongue-in-cheek; Molly Kate was assigned to be a net controller on Leg 1, but realized their radio wasn’t functioning properly. As it turned out, their VHF masthead antenna had been unplugged and turned upside down by the boatyard when their mast was last pulled, and never replaced! The audience had a good laugh at that one.
The ‘I’ll Never Do That Again! Award’ came about after stories were circulated about people doing dumb things on or to their boats during the course of the week. Molly Kate was again recognized for their antenna prowess (as well as a crewmember who’d slept in a hammock on the dock, only to lose his cell phone in the drink when he woke up and rolled over). Tom from Jubilee managed to chuck his handheld VHF into the water in Portsmouth looking for a dockline; Dennis on Sojourner managed to motor at 2400 RPM for over an hour before realizing that the boat wasn’t in gear; and Dana Marie were so excited sailing down the Bay on Leg 1 that they let their batteries run dead and couldn’t start the engine! But Adagio took the award in the end for their destroying all of their forward halyards when the genoa furler got stuck. The award was all in good fun, and it was a learning experience for everyone being out there, kind of the point of the rally in the first place.
The ‘Sailor’s Award’ went to Ken and his crew on Kayode for their remarkable start – they seized the starting line over the much nimbler J/105 Diffugere Nives and were recognized for the feat at last night’s party.
The ‘Hero Award’ was given to the crew of Wine Dog who came to Dana Marie’s assistance when their batteries ran dead. In an epic adventure, Wine Dog rendezvoused with Dana Marie at sea and transferred over a portable Honda generator via a coupld oe halyards, and managed to help get Dana Marie’s engine started.
Finally, to wrap things up, the Weems & Plath ‘Navigator’s Award’ – a fancy bronze navigator’s set in a wooden box, engraved with the ARC DelMarVa logo – was awarded to Adagio for their excellently kept navigator’s log.
The evening ended by thanking all the sponsors involved in the event – including J/World Annapolis, SpinSheet Magazine, SAIL Magazine, Chesapeake Sailmakers, Port Annapolis Marina and Southbound Cruising Services, Pantaenius, and the Eastport Democratic Club – and crews filed out of the venue shortly before 9pm, heading into a gorgeous Annapolis evening. Until next year.