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The 2016 Salty Dawg Fall Rally Arrives in the Caribbean

image1In the 2016 Salty Dawg Fall Rally to the Caribbean, 81 vessels departed on a 1,400 mile voyage across the Atlantic from Hampton, VA with most headed to the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda, BVI. This was once again the largest rally from the US to the Caribbean. Mild winds led to some sailing and motor sailing early-on for the first group of vessels that chose to leave on November 1st or 2nd. A short period of 25 to 30 knot winds from the north, followed by good winds in the teens to low 20’s gave nice sailing for the fleet in the middle of the trip, and then a mix of variable winds and moderate trades for the final couple of days to the Caribbean. It was a nice weather period and overall a comfortable passage.

The second half of the fleet chose to delay departure until Saturday Nov 5th due to possible strong N and NE winds on the back side of an approaching front that slower vessels might experience. The second group of vessels experienced more consistent winds, and also had a very favorable and timely passage.

Of the fleet of 81, a few went directly to the Bahamas or Florida, and four of the vessels came north from Bequia to meet the fleet from Hampton and join in the fun in North Sound.

Offshore, as always, sailors experienced some odd events. That is just part of cruising. Here is a sampling:image2

  • Setting the Spinnaker, Underwater – Rockhopper had carefully stowed their spinnaker, lashed in its sock to the lifelines. A large wave ripped it from the lifelines and into the sea, where it promptly deployed, with the sail, sock and line trailing 150 feet aft. (Some racers call this shrimping!)
  • Turning around and heading for home – In the middle of the night (of course that’s when it always happens), almost to the Virgin Gorda, Flash’s autopilot caused an abrupt turn. As they got the AP refunctioning and recalibrated, they found ourselves headed NW instead of SE. Russ, crew on nearby Archer, ever alert, called over wondering if Flash had decided to go back home. Funny!
  • Live fire exercise – This will wake you up. While sailing along in stiff breezes, a block at the mast base explodes on Charmed Life – with such explosive force that one of the parts penetrated the mast – leaving a bullet hole. The crew in the cockpit was lucky! Definitely Charmed Life!
  • Traveling in Class – After getting several reports from Zapporah of big seas, spray, rain, slamming through waves, Doug’s daughter in a loving, sympathetic message said “That is the most expensive way to travel third class in the world.” The crew promptly responded, they’d be glad to upgrade to third class.
  • Autopilot: Priceless! – After hand steering most of the last 4 to 5 days with a crew of 2, and only limited relief when there was some wind for the windvane – Tanamera really appreciates their autopilot. Thankfully the AP is now fixed.
  • Not your usual mid-ocean project – How about having to jump in the water when the wind died to re-rig the bobstays on your bowsprit? Pretty daring by Wreakless Faith.
  • Change of Plans – How about diverting to a closer destination to offload bad crew? Unnamed boat couldn’t wait to deliver crew to shore that insisted on singing opera every 15 minutes. Sayonara!
  • Slow boat to China – And then there was the middle of the night exchange between Flash and Zapporah: “Doug! (pause) It is going to take you a long time to get to the BVI at 2 kts!” – Doug says “Seale! I know! But, we’ll still get there.”

image3Chris Parkers’ weather forecasting, courtesy of Blue Water Sailing Magazine, as usual was spot on, and the full fleet appreciated his sage advice. After arrival, owners and crew transitioned to an active Salty Dawg social calendar of regular happy hours, morning yoga, a daily morning net of Dawgs helping other Dawgs, hiking, snorkeling, a superb and entertaining Arrival Dinner November 18 at the Bitter End Yacht Club, a pot-luck Thanksgiving on the beach, and a gathering once again up at Hog Heaven overlooking North Sound.

The Fall Rally and follow-on activities once again met the high standards of Salty Dawg Rallies and events, with solid management, sound preparation, extensive offshore planning, world class weather forecasting and routing, broad communication nets, expert assistance, fun, camaraderie and best of all – lasting friendships!

Announcing the Salty Dawg Sailing Association

SaltyDogThe Salty Dawg Rally organization announces a name change, to be called the Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA). Co-founder Bill Knowles says “The Salty Dawg Board of Directors decided to make the change to reflect the broader scope of activities that the organization now undertakes in promoting long-distance sailing and cruising.”

What began as a single rally to the Caribbean with a small group of sailors in 2011 has grown to now conducting each year several premier rallies, world class sailing seminars, and numerous rendezvous of sailors, gathering in the US and in the Caribbean at well attended events. The Fall Rally to the Caribbean is the largest rally on the east coast of the US, with 80 to over 100 boats participating each year. Seminars are well-attended by sailors. Various Rendezvous regularly attract 100 sailors. This is an active organization.

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association is offering Memberships to those interested in blue water sailing and adventure cruising. The camaraderie and friendships that are built from Association activities are both infectious and legendary. Knowles goes on to say “The best way to: be a part of these activities, share in the fun, develop your sailing skills and knowledge, participate in sailing adventures, fly the Salty Dawg burgee, serve as crew, learn from the newsletter, or just help fellow serious sailors – is to join this organization.”


Salty Dawg Rally™ Fall 2016 Cruising Seminars

Note: Bonus Drawings for Those in Attendance


The Salty Dawg Rally™ has once again scheduled a comprehensive series of free blue water cruising seminars to be held prior to the sailboat shows in Newport and Annapolis and in Hampton, Virginia, prior to the early November departure of the Salty Dawg fleet to the Caribbean.
With an emphasis on safety, communication, education, and camaraderie, over 400 boats and more than 1,600 sailors have participated in the Salty Dawg rallies since the organization was founded in 2011.
The series kicks off with a day of seminars at The Edward King House in Newport, Rhode Island on Wednesday, September 14th, the day before the start of the Newport International Boat Show. At the seminar a drawing will be held for a McMurdo FastFind 220 PLB, donated by Life Raft and Survival Equipment – LRSE of Newport. Talks will be offered on topics valuable to cruisers, including blue water passage preparations by George Day of Blue Water Sailing Magazine and Multihulls Quarterly, blue water cruising sail inventory and sail trim by Dave Flynn of Quantum Sails, heavy weather sailing and storm avoidance by Rick Palm, blue water boat maintenance by Josh Hodgson and preparation for blue water cruising and a life raft deployment demonstration by Liferaft and Survival Equipment Company.
Next in the Salty Dawg series is a full day of seminars at Mears Pavilion in Annapolis, Maryland on Wednesday, October 5th, the day before the start of the United States Sailboat Show. A Mantus high tech superbright LED headlight will be given away by a drawing at the Annapolis Seminar. Talks will be offered on a broad range of topics of interest to offshore sailors, including sail selection for effective offshore sailing by Dave Flynn of Quantum, blue water boat preparation by George Day of Blue Water Sailing Magazine and Mulithulls Quarterly, heavy weather sailing and storm avoidance by Rick Palm, weather systems and weather routing by Chris Parker, offshore cooking with a pressure cooker by Joan Conover, the value of single sideband radio to the cruising sailor by Curtis Morris, offshore communication equipment – GRIB’s and email by Jeff Thomassen of OCENS, and identification of rigging issues by Steve Madden of M Yachts.
The Newport and Annapolis seminars require reservation due to limited seating. To reserve a seat, email
Last in the series of Salty Dawg Rally hosted seminars are the talks and demonstrations that take place over five days prior to departure of the Salty Dawgs from Hampton, Virginia to the Caribbean. These seminars will begin on October 26 and run through October 30.
For more information about the Salty Dog Rally fall seminars, joining a rally or becoming a sponsor, visit .

Join the Salty Dawg Spring Rally to the US

The 2016 Spring Rally departs the BVI on May 15 to head to various ports on the East Coast of the US or to Bermuda. Salty Dawg Rallies place an emphasis on fun, safety and building lasting friendships. They are a great way to meet other cruisers, and to sail offshore in company.


You can register for the Rally and participate in all events at no fee. However, joining the Rally as a Member entitles you to many other benefits. Most participants also join as Members to support the Rally and to take advantage of these added benefits.

The Rally includes extensive planning and information prior to departure. Daily briefings by weather router and forecaster Chris Parker are provided to all who register, both before departure and offshore. For 2016 the Rally has expanded the set of activities at both Virgin Gorda North Sound and at Nanny Cay prior to departure. In North Sound, Virgin Gorda the Spring Rally will include a gathering for the Michael Beans pirate show, and on another day enjoy watching the Moko Jumbies perform at the Leverick bay Resort. Then Salty Dawgs can stretch their legs with a scavenger hunt and savor a great departure dinner at the Bitter End Yacht Club. This will be followed at Nanny Cay Marina with a pizza party, a beach BBQ, Chris Parker weather briefings, and final preparations before departure on May 15th. It is a full agenda before departure.

Offshore Dawgs stay in regular communication to assist each other if necessary, receive Chris Parker’s daily weather updates, and celebrate arrival for those whose destination is the Chesapeake Bay. Register now for the 2016 Salty Dawg Spring Rally!

Feature Photo 6 – 2017

Feature Photo 2 – 2017

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Feature photo 5 – 2017


Sapphire DepartingToday was a great day.   It felt so good to get off the dock.  We all were excited just to go to the fuel dock and top off the tanks!  Not as cold as we expected out here, so that’s great!  We even have pictures of us leaving the Chesapeake.  There is absolutely no wind and it is flat as can be.  So we can’t even motor sail and are using the iron Genny!  We did have a dolphin escort us out of the Chesapeake.  It is supposed to be a very flat crossing of the Gulf Stream.  We have had internet all day as we are going down the Coast.  I love that!  We had a White Bean Chicken Chili for dinner.  I really thought it was going to be cold and wanted to keep the crew warm!  A happy crew is a warm crew.  Although it is calm, it has given John and Bill a good day to learn the boat.  We will be trying our luck at fishing tomorrow.  Zoe has gotten her sea legs and this certainly hasn’t hurt her appetite!  We certainly are happy not to be in heavy seas and strong winds, even though we would love to be sailing.  That will come a little later in the trip.  Since I am technically on watch, although everyone is up in the cockpit but me, I should go.  They are not happy up there with the computer screen light shining up to them!!  Maybe I should have one of them write the blog in the dark!!  More tomorrow. Hoping to have some fish stories for you!   Linda

2015 Fall Salty Dawg Rally™ Now Underway – 78 Boats Participating

Virgin GordaThe first group of 78 boats participating in the 2015 fall Salty Dawg Rally™ are now on their way to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands and other Caribbean destinations.
The experienced blue water sailors, some with 12 or more passages to the Caribbean from the US, many with ocean crossings under their keels and crews with circumnavigation experience, departed today from Hampton, Virginia, and other points along the US east coast. Most will arrive at their initial destinations within the next 10 days.
The fleet ranges in size from 34 to 70 feet and includes boats from the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland. With an emphasis on safety, communication and camaraderie, over 470 boats and more than 1,890 sailors have now participated in the Salty Dawg rallies since the nonprofit organization was founded by blue water sailors Bill and Linda Knowles in 2011.
The Fall Rally included extensive planning and information prior to departure. Daily briefings by weather router and forecaster Chris Parker were provided to all, both before departure and offshore. Daily nets track location of vessels and offer help on any issues or questions that participants have. The Rally is able to provide this extensive range of support and services at no cost to participants due to the many seasoned blue water sailors who volunteer their time to staff the rally and the generous donated time, products, services and funds from over 40 sponsors.

Salty Dawg Annapolis Seminars – Well Received

UntitledThe Salty Dawg Rally Annapolis Seminars, now in their 3rd season, were attended by a full house of close to 100 sailors. The seminars were conducted on Wednesday October 7th at the Mears Marina Pavilion in Eastport, Annapolis, MD. This is the 4th year for these seminars on blue water sailing topics. Speakers included Dave Flynn of Quantum Sails with unique advice on offshore sail preparation, storm strategies and heavy weather tactics, Steve Madden of M-Yachts on rigging degradation and rig setup issues to look for, and Chris Parker discussing weather prediction services, weather patterns, and passage strategies. Also, Curtis Morris provided a very thorough review of SSB communications, Will Keene of Edson International offered sage advice on boat bilge pump and steering system issues and preparations for offshore sailing, USCG representatives addressed offshore emergencies and communications with the CG, Joan Conover discussed cooking offshore and use of the pressure cooker, Mark Andres of Sea Hawk addressed selection of bottom paints based on cruising locations and conditions, and Skip Yale of Bainbridge discussed attributes of different type lines and their best applications. An attentive audience asked thoughtful questions, gourmet sandwiches were offered for lunch, and with a sunny fall day most had plenty of input for their preparations to sail south. Reviews and subsequent testimonials by attendees were all positive about the learning experience provided by the seminars. The Salty Dawg Rally offers a series of seminars in Newport, Annapolis and Hampton to help blue water sailors better prepare themselves and their vessels for offshore passages.
It was great meeting all of you and the attendees at the Seminar in Newport…….a very good program with a lot of knowledgeable speakers as well as attendees!  The information shared among everyone and the networking were quite valuable to any avid sailor. Thank you for providing these beneficial opportunities to us. ……and happy sailing, Doug Stephens.


Salty Dawg Newport Seminars a Hit

SDR SeminarThe Salty Dawg Rally’s inaugural blue water sailing seminars held September 16th at the historic Edward King House in Newport were a big hit. These seminars held just prior to the Newport International Boat Show join the Salty Dawg Rally quality seminars held in Annapolis and Hampton each year.

The sailors who attended the Newport seminars raved about the depth and quality of the information presented by the noted speakers. Topics included preparations for an offshore blue water passage by George Day of Blue Water Sailing Magazine and Multihulls Quarterly, bottom paint selection and characteristics by Mark Andres of Sea Hawk Paint, planning your cruising sail inventory by Dave Flynn of Quantum Sails, selection and performance of different types of sailing lines by Skip Yale of Bainbridge, steering and pump systems by Will Keene of Edson International, and care, maintenance and selection of emergency equipment by Jim Connors of LRSE. Bill and Linda Knowles of the Salty Dawg Rally were also on hand to help in answering questions by attendees on blue water sailing and the Salty Dawg Rally.

All who attended were complimentary of the speakers and of the Rally for conducting the seminars. The word is spreading about the high quality of the seminars offered by the Salty Dawg Rally, with the next seminars to be held October 7th in Annapolis, Md. at Mears Marina.

Dorothy Mammen, winner of PLB at Newport Seminar

Dorothy Mammen, winner of PLB at Newport Seminar

Blue Water Sailing Seminar September 16 in Newport, Rhode Island – Win a McMurdo PLB!

epirbThe Salty Dawg Rally™ will host a free blue water sailing seminar on Wednesday, September 16, at the historic Edward King House in Newport, Rhode Island, just before the Newport International Sailboat Show.

Seating is limited and advance registration is required.  To register, email Attendees will also have an opportunity to win a McMurdo Fastfind 220 Personal Locator Beacon (pictured right) in a free drawing sponsored by Life Raft & Survival Equipment, Inc. (LRSE).

The Newport seminar, sponsored by Dufour Yachts and Northpoint Yacht Sales, will feature expert presentations on topics of interest to cruisers.

• Blue water passage preparations, presented by George Day of Blue Water Sailing Magazine and Multihulls Quarterly.

• Bottom paint selection and characteristics, presented by Mark Andres of Sea Hawk Paint.

• Offshore sail repairs, presented by Dave Flynn of Quantum Sails.

• Selection and performance of different types of sailing lines, presented by Skip Yale of Bainbridge.

• Steering and pump systems, presented by Will Keene of Edson International.

• Selection and care of emergency equipment, presented by Jim O’Connor of LRSE.

So come if you can, and pass this along to friends who may have an interest in learning more about blue water sailing.

Selection of PR and Marketing Firm

HomePortLogoThe Salty Dawg Rally™ announced on July 23rd it has chosen Home Port Marine Marketing to provide marketing and PR services. Bill Knowles, President of the Salty Dawg Rally, said “We are very excited to welcome aboard Home Port Marine Marketing. They will be handling communications and marketing of the Rally’s Seminars, Boat Show booths, Fall and Spring Rallies, and the various Rally-related events held throughout the year. We feel this is a very important step up for the Salty Dawg Rally as it continues to grow.” With an emphasis on safety, communication and camaraderie, over 390 boats and 1,560 sailors have participated in the Salty Dawg Rallies since 2011. Established in 2001, Home Port Marine Marketing is headed by former BoatU.S. product marketing executives Jim Georgiadis and David Pilvelait. For more information about Home Port’s marine product marketing, publicity and promotion services, visit

NOAA 2015 Seasonal Hurricane Outlook Announced

named-hurricane-franThe numbers are in! Take a look at the 2015 Seasonal Hurricane Outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane season forecast agrees with earlier forecasts of a season with fewer named storms than historical averages in 2015.  NOAA, which released it forecast in June, calls for a 70 percent likelihood of:

• 6 to11 named storms (including May’s Tropical Storm Ana)
• 3 to 6 of which would become hurricanes
• 0 to 2 major hurricanes – those of at least Category 3 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

This is below the 30-year average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes, and slightly above 2014’s numbers of 8 named storms, 6 hurricanes, 2 of which were Major hurricanes.

The Colorado State University (CSU) forecast issued June 1 called for eight named storms, including three hurricanes, one of which is predicted to attain major hurricane status.  The CSU outlook is headed by Dr. Phil Klotzbach in consultation with long-time hurricane expert Dr. William Gray and is based on a combination of 29 years of statistical predictors.

Hopefully, this will make things easier for Salty Dawgs as they work their way south to the Hampton, VA in preparation for an early November departure.

Dawgs at Hog Heaven

Video: Salty Dawg Dinghy Drift

Salty Dawg’s across the Caribbean are regularly holding local, impromptu gatherings with Dawgs they met in one of the rallies. These happen in one of the Dawg’s cockpits, on a local beach, in a waterfront restaurant, or one of the many nearby bars. It can be a gathering of 3 to 30. In mid-January 12 Salty Dawgs and 6 Dawg-wannabe’s from 9 yachts gathered for a dinghy drift (let’s call it a ‘Dawg Drift’) in Francis Bay, St. John, USVI. Salty Dawgs from Dream Chaser, Flash, Kalunamoo, Rum Runner, Sapphire, and Zipporah participated, as well as guests from Lonestar, Reality Check, and Unicorn. Pleasant easterly winds, tasty snacks, refreshing drinks, and good company made for a delightful time. Passing boats honked horns in appreciation of the strange craft passing by, maybe never having seen a drift of dinghies lashed together into one, bobbing mass of fun. The pack broke up at sunset so all could arrive back at their home yachts before the twilight disappeared. It was a hit and will be repeated, we’re sure. Click on the YouTube video to see some of the highlights.

Cruising Compass – Outfitting Your Sailboat for Safety at Sea


With the amount of gear and opinions available on what you should or should not have, fitting out a sailboat for blue water has never been more daunting. Couple that with the highly personal nature of the seamanship and safety decisions that need to be made, and getting a boat ready for offshore work can seem like a major obstacle to attaining the cruising dream. But it doesn’t have to be. When cruising sailors talk about fitting out their boats for adventures on the high seas, the focus usually seems to be on big ticket items or creature comforts: a new dinghy and outboard, rigging, refrigeration, self-steering, wind and solar, etc. But there are a handful of safety considerations to take into account when preparing your boat and crew for the rigors of ocean sailing. Read More…

Cruising Compass – Maritime Industry by the Numbers

Infographic-Safety-at-Sea-thumbMaritime Industry by the Numbers

As the maritime industry celebrates World Maritime Day today, here’s a really interesting safety at sea infographic.


Health Issues – Chikungunya



Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral illness spreading throughout the Caribbean, recently imported from Africa. We know it because my wife, Hannah Gardner, caught it last season while we were on the hook in Gustavia, St. Barth.

Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. (Dengue is also a mosquito-borne virus which has been on the scene in the Caribbean and Central and South America for some years. Dengue is known locally as “break-bone fever” because it makes the victim feel as if her bones were broken. Generally, dengue is more virulent and more lethal than chikungunya but, luckily, both call for the same defenses.) Read More…

Using Your Icom M-802

ICOM SSBHow to Operate and Use Your Icom M-802

Practical Hands-On Video Instruction Series by John R. MacDougall s/v “Annie Laurie


I hear and read HF radio complaints quite often. This thing or the other “just doesn’t work right” and “I should have saved my money.”  The most common problem is simply the lack of user knowledge/expertise to make the bloody stuff work right!!!  Unless you’re a “radio nut” and an electronics professional, you probably haven’t had the opportunity to be trained in “how-to-use” these systems, and certainly many fellow sailors, cruisers, and voyagers are not well versed enough in these matters to make optimal use of them. Read More…

A Guide To Steering Without A Rudder

Rudderles-1-743x1024by Michael Keyworth

This guide is the result of multiple tests conducted in the fall of 2013 off of Newport, RI. The test vessel was a modified MK I Swan 44, Chasseur. The purpose of the tests was to determine the best method and equipment to effectively steer the vessel to a safe port in the event of catastrophic rudder failure. The goal was to utilize the equipment normally taken on the vessel on offshore passages or races.

The overriding premise was; utilization of an efficient and controllable object to create drag and transmit to directional stability which results in the desired directional stability. It was my view that a drogue might be used to exert the appropriate drag. I further felt that a small drogue might provide the needed drag but would not significantly impede the speed of the vessel. Read More…

Sailboat Steering Inspection

EB 372-14 Steering Inspection-1As with all mechanical systems used in the harsh marine environment, proper inspection and maintenance is required of an Edson Steering System for long life and years of proper service. Systems which have not been maintained and lubricated properly show signs of wear early and perform less than satisfactory. Therefore, it is important that all boats fitted with Edson Steering Systems get an annual inspection of the critical system parts and that routine maintenance guidelines are followed. This chain and wire system inspection can be done by an Authorized Edson Service Center or a capable boat owner. Please request or download a data sheet specific to your boat prior to starting your inspection.

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Bilge Pump Checklist

SAS-14-3P Bilge Pump Checklist 140508-1Definition of a Boat = vessel constructed to provide buoyancy by excluding water!

Step #1 – Test Existing Pump Capacity

a) Pour a known quantity of water into your bilge (at least 20-30 gallons). A 1” hole two feet below water allows 28 gpm into your vessel.

b) Turn on your Electric Bilge Pump and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to empty your bilge. Record the time in your vessel records.

c) Pour another 20-30 gallons and empty your bilge using your Manual Bilge Pump. Time the test and count the strokes of the pump needed to empty your bilge. You will need to calculate the volume per stroke of your manual bilge pump. (This is the most important number when determining manual pumping capacity).

d) Fill a 2 ½ or 5 gallon bucket with water (not to the top but close to full) and stand in the cabin. Pick up the bucket and empty it out into the cockpit. This will help you understand the sheer weight of the bucket and the awkwardness of lifting it up to or above your shoulders. While doing this test imagine doing it many times in a seaway. Also, take note of your Nav Station location, (typically next to your companionway) with all its electronics and communication equipment. Imagine that getting doused with a bucket of water. NOTE: consider the water level required in your vessel that allows for the use of a bucket (it is often not until the water has risen above the floor boards).

e) Record your capacities in electric, manual, and scared man buckets after performing the above tests. Calculate your combined current pump capacity. Calculate total pumping capacity.

f) The above suggestions are intended to establish your current baseline bilge pumping capacity. You need to put yourself into the worst case situation to make a reasonable assessment of (1) your electrical pump capacity (2) your manual pump capacity, and (3) estimate how many buckets of water you can throw out of the companionway. NOTE: your physical capabilities need your honest assessment.

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