Rally Profiles: Bill and Linda Knowles

Bill and Linda Knowles
Bill and Linda Knowles

Bill and Linda Knowles have spent a lifetime on the sea. For Bill, his love of the ocean started in childhood when sailing Beetle Cats and Herreshoff 12-1/2s in Ontario and New England. As an adult, he served as director of operations at the Herreshoff Museum, which includes the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in Bristol, Rhode Island, and met many of the famous names in the sport at that time. For Linda, who grew up in Florida, on-the-water time meant power boating and sailing sailfish. The two met three decades ago, purchased a Hunter 30 and began a cruising life together. Their seafaring travels have taken them north along the New England coast and south to the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands. Today, the couple cruise aboard their Jeanneau 54, Sapphire.

All At Sea’s Carol Bareuther asked Linda and Bill about their popular cruising rallies …

What inspired you to start the Salty Dawg Rally?
Bill: We participated in several Caribbean 1500s, starting in 2004. In 2011, we thought why not do the passage to the Caribbean ourselves with friends? George Day of Blue Water Sailing Magazine contacted us with a similar thought. George became our first sponsor and we promoted a rally that fall from Hampton, Virginia to the BVI. The interest was great. We had 32 boats and several volunteers to help. Thus, the Salty Dawg Rally was born.

Salty Dawg packed up and ready to go
Salty Dawg packed up and ready to go

Why the name ‘Salty Dawg’?
Bill: Salty dog is old sailing slang for a very experienced sailor. Since our focus is on a rally for experienced sailors, the term fit. However, we wanted a unique term, not just using the old sailor slang. We think the term Salty
Dawg did it.

I heard that there was a four-legged tail-wagging dog also behind the name. Is this true?
Linda: Yes. Brie, our Jack Russel at the time, was our artist’s inspiration in creating the Salty Dawg logo. The cute little dog face with the pirate patch was based on a photo of Brie.  She sailed many thousands of miles, and was a Salty Dawg in her own right, accompanying us on our many Caribbean 1500 passages and our first several Salty Dawg Fall and Spring Rallies. We lost Brie to age-related issues a few years back. Her replacement, Zoe, a coarse hair Jack Russel, has fit right in, making herself at home on Sapphire and with the Salty Dawg membership.”

Bill, Linda and Zoe on Sapphire in the BVI
Bill, Linda and Zoe on Sapphire in the BVI

What are some of the rally’s milestones over the past seven years?
Linda: After the first year, we added a formal organized Spring Rally for the return trip to the US in 2012, and have repeated that each year. In 2012, the Fall Rally grew to 59 boats and then 110 in 2013. In 2013, we established a Board of Directors to guide and help manage the organization. In 2014, activities after arrival to the BVI expanded to a month. Other Salty Dawg activities added since then include several Rendezvous in the BVI, USVI, and comprehensive seminars in Annapolis, Newport and Hampton; and other rallies including the Rally to Maine and Rally to Cuba.  In 2016, we formally organized the Salty Dawg Sailing Association as the governing organization of all our activities, and now have several hundred members and growing.

How would you describe what sets the Salty Dawg Rally apart from other cruising rallies?
Bill: It’s the intense and lasting friendships that develop from the close-knit activities, passage accomplishments and then month-long time together in post arrival activities.  Our organizing sailors don’t hop on a flight after an arrival dinner and depart for their next rally. They are part of the family that has developed, and many help with boat repairs and continuing social activities right through the winter, up to the Spring Rally, and through the summer.

What’s on the horizon?
Bill: Our board and management team will take more of the load off Linda and myself.  Some management changes will be coming, but it is an orderly change that will ensure the continued success of the Salty Dawg organization. We will both stay involved as long as we can.”

Carol_Bareuther
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.