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Linda and Bill Knowles at the Salty Dawg Rally booth in Newport
Linda and Bill Knowles at the Salty Dawg Rally booth in Newport

Caribbean Salty Dawg Rally Sails On

What could be more salty than the Salty Dawg Rally?

The Salty Dawg Rally starts November 4th from the Bluewater Yachting Center in Hampton, Virginia, and finishes in the British Virgin Islands, or the Bahamas, or the destination of your choice! Is that salty or what?

Since the first event the Salty Dawg Rally (SDR) has prospered, going from 32 boats in 2011 to more than 100 in 2013. This is one of the most relaxed rallies on the calendar. For instance, there is no formal inspection of each boat, the organizers insisting it is the responsibility of each skipper to have proper safety equipment and to ensure that the vessel is prepared for the passage.

The rally does provide weather information and they run a week-long series of seminars in advance of the rally.

The Salty Dawg Brie
The Salty Dawg Brie

The SDR was the idea of Linda and Bill Knowles and their Jack Russell pup Brie, the original Salty Dawg. The Knowles work tirelessly to make the event a success and they have hit on a formula that is attractive to seasoned bluewater sailors and those going offshore for the first time either on their own boats or as crew.

There is no entry fee for the SDR, which is obviously an added attraction. When All At Sea asked Linda Knowles if they would be introducing an entry fee for future rallies, now that the event is growing, she replied with an emphatic “NO!”

However, other things change from year to year, as can be seen by the introduction of the Spring Rally. This takes the boats back to the US and has already almost doubled in size since last year.

“We have had a great response in the Spring Rally with 25 boats returning with us this year,” Linda says.

“We spend ten days at North Sound at the Bitter End Yacht Club, and Leverick Bay, before heading to Nanny Cay Marina for a few days prior to departure.”

There’s more for Salty Dawgs than a sail to the Caribbean, as Linda explains.

“We have added events in Hampton; North Sound, the Bitter End and Leverick Bay. We have an Annual Salty Dawg 4th of July celebration in Bristol, RI, with the longest running 4th of July Celebration in the country. We now have seminars in Annapolis and, of course, we will have our 2nd Annual Salty Dawg Annapolis Rendezvous at Mears Pavilion on October 9.

“And we have a Women’s Round Table in Hampton, to discuss provisioning,” Linda adds.

New sponsors are a sign of a healthy event and more sponsors support the SDR each year. Linda says they have also made changes to the Board of Directors.

“We have increased our Board of Directors to seven and are in the process of filing for tax exempt status as a 501c3 Corporation.”

More families are taking part in the rally and organizers hope this trend continues.

This year we have started a group within the Salty Dawg Rally called the Salty Pups (children). We are planning activities and seminars for them in Hampton, such as knot tying, use of VHF radio, safety at sea, and a scavenger hunt. The list goes on and on!”

People who have taken part in the SDR have left glowing testimonials on the event’s website.

Iain and Fiona Lewis said: “Usually things that sound too good to be true are too good to be true. This is not the case with the SDR. It’s run by sailors for sailors giving you all the benefits of an organized rally but with none of the downsides such as fixed departure dates or even fixed start or end locations. Even with all this flexibility there is a great sense of community built within the SDRers and companionship from having the shared joy of sailing and completing the challenge of crossing oceans.”

Bill Danilczyk also praised the rally. “I have to say that the Salty Dawg rally is an incredible rally experience. From the pre-start staging, weather info, seminars and parties, the in transit weather briefings and check-ins, to the arrival parties and discounts. The Salty Dawg Rally has saved me well over $1000 while cruising in the BVI this winter.”

The Dawg wouldn’t be the Dawg without Dawgs of the genuine canine variety sailing along. This year at least five boats count pets as part of the crew!

For more information, visit: http://saltydawgrally.org

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