Exploring the world on a long-range cruiser is the dream of many. Few will live that dream, at least in the way that the 26 yachts participating in the Oyster World Rally are. The journey began in Antigua in early January. We received a report from the Oyster team, after the fleet made it across the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. Their stopover in Panama is summarized below.
Paul and Sue Fletcher are living their dream aboard the aptly named Dreams come True, their Oyster 56. “The weather conditions have been fantastic, blue skies, plenty of sunshine and a good breeze. We only used fuel to get on an anchorage or to charge batteries, the rest of the time has been under sail,” Paul Fletcher said. “The San Blas Islands were incredible, they are called the hidden gems of the Caribbean and they easily lived up to their reputation. The islands are stunningly beautiful and there are so many superb anchorages. We visited several islands and the Kuna Indians were extremely friendly and very happy to sell lobster to us at a good price. Probably the standout memory from San Blas was meeting up with two other yachts on the rally—Babe and Wolfhound. We took about half a dozen lobsters ashore to a sea shanty restaurant and had a terrific lunch followed by a game of beach cricket. I will never forget that view. It was simply fantastic.”
Every yacht taking part in the Oyster World Rally, which is expected to unfold over 14 months, is fitted with a SSB Radio. This has allowed the boats to stay in touch with each other over a daily radio net. But then the skippers also had a chance to meet up in person. The Oyster World Rally rendezvous took place in Panama, at Shelter Bay Marina. After a guided tour of the World Heritage site of Fort San Lorenzo, which marks the Caribbean entrance to the canal, Oyster owners and their guests enjoyed a lively party with plenty of drinks and a traditional Panamanian barbeque. “After a few drinks, the whole party put together a great sing-along, with a few impromptu verses about fun in the Caribbean, which I have to say was absolutely hysterical!" said Oyster’s Debbie Johnson. After catching up on their experiences in the Caribbean, the 26 yachts set out through the Panama Canal. “We have been planning the rally for two years and a considerable amount of time went into getting the logistics in place for a safe passage through the Panama Canal,” Johnson said. “It took four days to get the Oyster fleet through, but it has all gone so smoothly.”