Sure, there are gay cruises where you can cavort with handsome guys, lay around a pool, and dance all night. But for the more athletic and adventurous types, there's the Gay Armada.
For two weeks in February, hundreds of gay sailing enthusiasts converge on the British Virgin Islands and traverse the Caribbean in small luxury yachts for the "largest LGBT sailing trip," according to Gay Armada organizer and chairman Tony Altimore. A New York-based adventure company operator, Altimore put together last year's trip, bringing together over 100 sailors; this year he expects over 400 men to take part in the adventure.
For about $1,500 and airfare to the BVI, participants enjoy being on the high seas, with boat rental, gas, water, some food, fees, and certain events included. Every boat has a trained captain on board, but everyone on the yachts — which house about four people — is expected to pitch in, whether that be captain, chef, helmsman, navigator, chef, or even bartender.
While Altimore says lots of rum is consumed, the Gay Armada is not like an Atlantis Cruise. The boats can navigate their own courses during the days — where they may sail to a specific island or city for a hike or lunch — but there are plenty of organized gatherings, many at night. A highlight of the event are the dinners and parties, where boats are anchored (or moored, in sailing parlance) and everyone hops on one of the yachts to hang out together.
The boats are anywhere from 38 to 67 feet long and almost all of the participants sleep on the ship, as opposed to hotels. The Gay Armada website does admit some romances begin while on the high seas. But really that's not the main focus of the Armada; it's being among fellow sailors and gays, though women are welcome to join.
Depending on availability, participants can take part in either week, or both. The second week attracts a bigger crowd, if you're looking to meet more people. But one thing to remember is, "This trip is a fun adventure, not a circuit party," Altimore explains on the Armada website. "The 90s are long gone (thank God!), and the guys on this trip want to have a fun trip that's not a big messy party scene… We cook for ourselves, clean up for ourselves, and have the fun that comes with running our own yacht groups."
Click here for dates and check out more photos below. All images courtesy of Gay Armada.