If you’ve sailed offshore to the Caribbean at least once, then you’re invited to join a brand new cruising rally. The first annual Salty Dawg Rally is being organized by Bill and Linda Knowles, who cruise from New England to the Caribbean each year aboard their Jeanneau 54, Sapphire, with 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Brie.
“We’ve done the Caribbean 1500 Cruising Rally a number of times, but this year’s departure date of November 7th is one reason why we decided to start our own rally,” explains Bill Knowles. “In my opinion, this is too late. A three or four day delay could set departure back to November 11th or 12th. Add the seven to ten-day trip and you are into Thanksgiving week. Many people have previous commitments for this week and it’s possible to lose crew. We plan to leave earlier, weather permitting, on November 1st instead.”
Secondly, Knowles adds, “We’ve done the trip for so many years with the 1500 that we thought it would be fun to do on our own with other experienced sailors.”
The fact that the Salty Dawg Rally is only open to experienced sailors lent to its name.
“Our dog Brie has at least 20,000 ocean miles under her belt, so you could say she’s an experienced sailor or real salty dog,” says Knowles. “We really liked the name and thought it perfect for the rally.”
The term ‘salty dawg’ does indeed mean an experienced sailor, according to the Dictionary of Navy Slang.
The idea for the rally took root this summer. It grew into reality when Blue Water Sailing signed on as sponsor to provide free weather routing services and organizations like the Seven Seas Cruising Association helped to spread the word.
“The goal is to have a good time,” says Knowles. “I’m not charging anything because I don’t want to be financially responsible. It’s an ‘on your own in a group’ type of rally.”
Nine boats had signed up for the rally by mid-September. These included two Jeanneau 54s, a Hylas 54, Farr 50, Beneteau 49 and couple of monohulls in the 40 to 44-foot range. There are no multihulls. The cruisers hail from California, New England and Baltimore. One other boat has a canine crew, while yet another boasts kids on board. Knowles expects 10 to 15 boats to have signed-up by rally start.
As of mid-September, Knowles was still deliberating between a Hampton start from the Bluewater Yachting Center or Norfolk start from Bay Point Marina. Both facilities are cruiser-friendly facilities, offering dockage discounts to ralliers, with restaurants, provisioning and other shopping nearby. The destination will be the British Virgin Islands of Tortola, either Soper’s Hole or Nanny Cay Marina.
“We’ll be offering an offshore rally net on single-sideband at 7am and 7pm daily, potluck socials and a Dutch-treat closing dinner at either the Jolly Roger in Soper’s Hole or Peg Leg’s at Nanny Cay.”
Knowles says the group may get together again in the spring and head back north.
We hope the Salty Dog Rally will become a tradition that will continue year after year,” says Knowles.
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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.