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Salty Dawg Cruising Rally and Atlantic Odysseys

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As the well-established Salty Dawg Rally that goes from the US East Coast to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, continues to attract experienced offshore sailors, over in England three new transatlantic rallies, Odyssey I, Odyssey II, and the Barbados 50, are flexing their muscles.

The Salty Dawg Rally
The Salty Dawg Rally hosts two rallies, one in the fall and one in spring.  The Fall Rally leaves from Hampton, Virginia or from Beaufort, NC transiting to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, or to the Bahamas (or to a destination of your choice). The Spring Rally departs from Virgin Gorda, to points along the east coast or to Bermuda.

According to regatta spokesperson, Hank George, the Fall Rally is by far the most popular due to a much narrower weather window in the fall and the fact that some boats want to be back in the US as early as March while others are happy to cruise the Caribbean until May or June.

Like all rallies the Salty Dawg continues to evolve. “New this year,” says George, “we expanded our seminar series to include a full day prior to the Newport Boat Show, in addition to our full day of seminars prior to the Annapolis Sailboat Show, and three days of seminars and demonstrations in Hampton prior to the Rally’s departure.  We have also expanded our on-line library of reference material and checklists to help sailors prepare for an offshore passage, with many original articles by experts from our over 40 marine sponsors.”

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Salty Dawg Anahata on Passage
Salty Dawg Anahata on Passage

The Dawg was founded by cruisers Linda and Bill Knowles who insisted the rally would be free to everyone. This holds true today, however, ralliers can now pay a membership fee, which gives them many more benefits.

“We are finding that about 80% of sailors who participate choose to join as Members,” says George. “The added benefits are substantial, with deep discounts on products and services, season-long reductions on moorings, and on and on.  The membership fee is still a very low amount ($250 for a full year) for the benefits received, and is low because of the size of the volunteer staff of experienced sailors who support the rally and the contributions of our sponsors in the US and Caribbean.”

The rally is limited to those with offshore experience “and don’t need the hand-holding first-timers might require.” The number of boats taking part fluctuates year by year but the overall trend is upwards as the event earns glowing reviews from those taking part.

Speaking on the Salty Dog forum, 2015 Salty Dawgs Ed Ludlow and Judy Richterman, of S/V Judith Arlene, said: “It has been four months since we headed south with the Salty Dawgs. Joining this rally ranks among the best decisions we’ve made. The quality of the seminars and passage nets was beyond our expectations. Under way, the level of communication was impressive. There were two daily Salty Dawg check-in nets, and Chris Parker ran two daily weather nets plus a midnight email weather update. Every boat received personal attention in the middle of the Atlantic until the last boat arrived safely.”

Hank George says they have got the balance right. “The Salty Dawg rally has hit the sweet spot of what experienced blue water sailors are looking for. The camaraderie of many like-minded and experienced offshore sailors, substantial flexibility and decision making by individual captains and crews, extensive socializing and creation of an extended family with numerous organized and ad hoc events prior to departure and after arrival.”

For more information, visit: saltydawgrally.org

Not many rallies start here!
Not many rallies start here!


As the founder of the highly successful ARC transatlantic rally, Jimmy Cornell is credited with having devised the offshore cruising rally concept. In the last three decades, Cornell has organized 30 transatlantic rallies, five round the world rallies and one round the world race, with over 3,000 boats and 15,000 sailors having participated in his sailing events. Now Cornell is back with a new series of rallies aimed at cruising sailors. Here we take a look at the Atlantic Odyssey I, Atlantic Odyssey II, and the Barbados 50.

Odyssey I leaves Lanzarote in November, the traditional month for an Atlantic crossing. Odyssey II leaves in January. Both finish on the French island of Martinique.

We asked Cornell Sailing Event Organizer, Doina Cornell (daughter of Jimmy Cornell), why they had started these new rallies?

Ms. Cornell said Jimmy launched the Atlantic Odyssey with the aim of returning to the original non-competitive and non-commercial spirit of his earlier rallies, with the emphasis on safety and the enjoyment of participating in a purely amateur event.

In what is now a competitive industry, perhaps a return to basics might be exactly what is called for.

“We keep our events small and friendly, and our entry fees are very low,” Ms. Cornell said. “ We aim to create a family atmosphere and this is what our participants tell us they  like, while we also have a very experienced team, headed by Jimmy, that is there to provide support and advice for people maybe making their first ocean crossing and wanting the support and camaraderie a rally can bring.”

Fair winds for the Atlantic Odyssey 2 2015 fleet
Fair winds for the Atlantic Odyssey 2 2015 fleet

Odyssey I counts 34 children amongst 44 cruising boats from 18 countries including Israel, New Zealand and Russia.

The most unique Atlantic rally of 2016 is also run by Cornell Sailing. The Barbados 50 leaves London in July and arrives in Barbados as the country prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence. On the way, the fleet will visit Senegal and the Gambia. A highlight of the rally will be a cruise up the Gambia River, which is navigable for a long way inland.

“The rally promises to be very exciting and we will be a key part of Barbados’ celebrations next year,” Ms Cornell said.

For more information about Cornell Sailing and all their rallies, visit: cornellsailing.com

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Gary Brown
Gary Brownhttp://garyebrown.net
Gary E. Brown is the Editorial Director of All At Sea Caribbean. He is a presenter on Island 92, 91.9 FM, St. Maarten, and the author of the thriller/sailing adventure Caribbean High. For more information, visit: garyebrown.net

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