Alabama to Guatemala and South China Seas via Panama - IRG's 97-foot flagship


Alabama to Guatemala and South China Seas via Panama - IRG's 97-foot flagship

UPDATED 8th May: Looking for volunteers to voyage to Guatemala. There are comfortable cabins available, the weather's great (not hot!) and we are ready to sail again after initial transit from Florida directly to Guatemala, 950nm south between Cuba and Mexico. 5 more berths available 3 double cabins and two bunks for singles.

Our 97-foot boat has sailed 8,000 nautical miles and conducted 8 humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations in the Caribbean in over 3 years, supporting dozens of other yachts in the region with volunteers and supplies. 

Thunderbird 5 has been our flagship and focal point in the Caribbean, now IRG plans to haul and re-fit for a new mission to set up operations in Asia, based in the Philippines. Presently anchored at an attractive location Fairhope in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

After the voyage, if you wish to stay aboard in Rio Dulce, help re-fit our yacht, if you'd like some experience in a marine yard on hull steel, wooden rig, electronics and painting etc., come and join us!

COST: Nothing except that we will share just food expenses and crew are expected to make their own travel arrangements (we're a charity, we don't have a budget or volunteer travel...)

LATEST: The second crewman has committed, now looking for 2 more (we have free berths for another 4 crew), the more the merrier!


Note that this can be delayed for various reasons, this is the best stab at timing. Volunteers who have hard stops may not find this yoyage suitable.

  • Now Ship is anchored and ready to fuel, water, provision and sail before end of May
  • End May-early June (crew and weather permitting) Voyage from Mobile Bay, Alabama to shipyard in Guatemala (latest weather window looks fantastic to cross the Gulf Stream). The voyage is about 950nm and will probably take 2 weeks though of course is weather dependent, it might take another week or so if we get adverse winds.
  • June-August 2018 Anchor for a week or two then haul-out and block for 3 months. Crew may stay aboard in their own berth and help with re-fit of the yacht on many projects, food will be provided
  • August 2018 Launch and shakedown sail in Caribbean Panama region. Transit Panama Canal into the Pacific and tour the Gulf of Panama and Las Perlas islands on a humanitarian aid mission
  • September 2018 Voyage to South Pacific and on to South China Seas, to establish an IRG base in the Philippines about end 2018.


ABEL's at Rio Dulce Guatemala is where we can continue to live on the boat and do DIY work, we'll use the Yard for the heavy work such as pulling the propshaft, repaint the bottom with anti-foulant etc. We will do various jobs like grinding, welding and re-priming steel where there is corrosion, taking of some old machinery, refresh the electronics and Nav, install a radar, do some sail repair and rig work etc.. NOTE that our main engine is being replaced in Guatemala, we will be using auxillary propulsion to exit our anchorage in Mobile, Alabama, sail all the way in the easterly tradewinds, and have a tugboat to take us to the shipyard. You must be comfortable with the idea that this is a sailboat, if the wind dies enroute we will simply await the wind to return. Please think carefully about this, some people react badly to being offshore becalmed for more than a few hours, if so this may not be the voyage for you. If you wish to truly hone your sailing skills, you will learn a lot

Find more VOYAGE NOTES and CREW APPLICATION FORMS to the right ===>>.

Location: Mobile, AL
Members: 10
Latest Activity: Apr 18, 2018


IRG's Flagship

Bigger gallery of photos here.

Guest cabin

Discussion Forum

This group does not have any discussions yet.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Alabama to Guatemala and South China Seas via Panama - IRG's 97-foot flagship to add comments!

Comment by Captain Ray Thackeray, IRG on April 9, 2018 at 11:44am

More on IRG and our mission from our corporate sponsor Fortress Anchors. 

Comment by Captain Ray Thackeray, IRG on December 21, 2017 at 6:45pm

Hello Joey, look forward to seeing you in Hollywood soon. Our projects are a real mix, including sanding and painting the bottom, some welding work which will be really interesting to those who have never welded before, grinding out rust from steel then prime and paint, some electrical work, deck work, rig work, sail repairs, etc. I doubt we'll get round to any varnishing, plenty of that can be done on nice voyaging days to the South China Seas! The heavy duty work like pulling the propshaft and renewing the stuffing box will be done by the Yard's mechanics.

Comment by Joey Timmerman on December 21, 2017 at 6:37pm

Hey Captain Ray! What's on the schedule for the refit? New bottom paint? Sanding some teak? Is the crew doing 100% of the work or will you bring in some contractors for certain projects?

Comment by Captain Ray Thackeray, IRG on December 15, 2017 at 8:49am

Hello all, including me we have 4 crew and I am confident that we will have 2 or 3 more soon! Joey arrives on 2nd January.

This is to connect you all and keep you in touch with planning and thoughts, I welcome discussion and research on this in this forum,I’m sure you’ll all have lots of questions and I may not have all the answers, so from this point we are a team working on this project!. This mission’s coordination will continue here and every Q&A will be available to all who are interested rather than trying to answer everything separately by email.

I won’t update the description above on re-fit destination yet but yesterday I met with a yacht broker and professional captain and they gave me a convincing argument that hauling out in Rio Dulce, Guatemala is the best decision to make. I have identified 2 marine yards in Panama and 1 yard in Rio Dulce, and they all have similar service and labour rates, but Rio Dulce is a far superior place to be for an extended period of 12 weeks which is my estimate for time to complete the re-fit. One good place for research about the region is Noonsite, see I also have friends and supporters or IRG who live there and in Belize which is just a day-sail away who can be relied on to create a humanitarian aid mission in the region.



Access to this online community is free. Please Sign Upinvite your friends and join the conversations!

International Rescue Group is a 501(c)(3) Public Benefit Nonprofit organization and your donations can be applied against US taxes. IF YOU WANT TO USE A CREDIT CARD, CLICK THE DONATE BUTTON:


To donate a boat or marine equipment email here.


  • Add Photos
  • View All

© 2020   Created by Captain Ray Thackeray, IRG.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service