SDSA Downeast Rally

July 8 departure (weather permitting)

Fees & What's Included
Passage Discussion
Required Equipment
Crew Service
Rally FAQs
Volunteer to Help

Whether the SDSA Downeast Rally is part of your preparation for longer offshore passages, a great summer get-away, or an opportunity to extend your coastal cruising experience with new friends, you’ll love the experiences, smells, and sights the  Downeast Rally provides.  New England is known for fresh seafood, rugged shorelines, and quaint, historic towns.

"Downeast", also "Down East", refers to parts of eastern coastal New England and Canada, particularly the State of Maine and Canada's Maritime Provinces, an area that closely corresponds to the historical French territory of Acadia.  The phrase derives from sailing terminology: sailors from western ports sailed downwind toward the east to reach the area.

The Downeast Rally is the perfect opportunity to gain experience sailing overnight in the ocean, in the company of other Salty Dawg boats and with experienced shoreside staff support. This experience can be used as a stepping stone to our longer offshore rallies, such as the Caribbean Rally, the Bermuda Rally, or the East Coast Rally.  This is a nearshore / offshore passage in the company of other boats, usually a fleet of 25 to 35 boats.

This rally provides Captains with Atlantic Ocean sailing, visiting new ports, entering busy Atlantic ports, planning for the currents and tides of those entrances, planning the best time to transit considering current, and finally enjoying Maine.  Local knowledge from Salty Dawgs is provided at pre-departure briefings to assist in your passage and in planning your summer cruising in New England and Maine. The Rally objective is to get to Rockland, in the heart of “Downeast Maine” as safely as possible, without any challenging overnight navigation of the Cape Cod Canal and entry and exit of challenging ports.

The rally is divided into three legs, each with their own distinct pleasures and challenges, with stopovers to relax, explore and meet new friends.  The first leg takes the Chesapeake boats to Newport, leg 2 goes from Newport to Maine, and the final leg is all the time in Maine.  Boats will gather in Hampton, or Annapolis in early July for preparations and departure (weather permitting).  For boats in southern New England, we’ll rendezvous in Newport July 10 for fun activities prior to a departure for Maine mid-July.

Boats gathering in Hampton are expected to depart for Newport and follow a blue water route up the East Coast.  Boats gathering in Annapolis will be traveling up the Chesapeake Bay, through the C&D Canal to the Delaware Bay and out into the Atlantic past Cape May, NJ.  Hampton and Annapolis boats are expected to reach Newport, RI in 2-1/2 to 3 days.

All boats are expected to depart Newport mid-July for points "downeast" with planned overnight stops in Cuttyhunk, MA, and Mattapoissett, MA before transiting the Cape Cod Canal and arriving in Rockland, ME.  The passage from exiting the canal to arrival in Rockland should take about 1-1/2 to 2 days.

Following the arrival events in Rockland, ME, the fleet will participate in a three day mini-cruise to nearby Pulpit Harbor, and two other nearby stops to give the fleet a feel for what the area has to offer.  The cruise will wind up with an overview of cruising area options for those who wish to continue cruising Downeast.  After the Rally, boats will have the opportunity to do leisurely day-sails and exploration when heading back south, stopping at interesting ports that were passed on the passage north.

The rally is planned for the ideal Maine cruising period of late July through August, the driest and least foggy period in Maine, although dense fog is not out of the question, and should be considered.  Local knowledge and a reference list will be provided on harbors, villages and not-to-be-missed pristine anchorages in Maine.

The Rally includes weather routing by Chris Parker of The Marine Weather Center, position tracking by PredictWind, and an extensive level of coordination and support during the offshore passage.  Once accepted to the rally and rally fees have been paid, you will have access to the rally Welcome page which will include detailed information.  Please review the Passage Discussion page (link above), which contains information about the conditions likely to be encountered.

Offshore communications equipment is not required, but highly encouraged, especially if you have plans to participate in the Caribbean, Bermuda, or East Coast Rally.  VHF radio communications equipment is required, including both fixed and portable radios.  Captains may not need an Iridium GO! or other device that provides position reporting, but by having it aboard they get comfortable with it, are able to utilize the PredictWind tracking, and are not struggling when going on an offshore Rally with something new.

Whether the Downeast Rally to Maine is part of your preparation for longer offshore passages or an opportunity to extend your coastal cruising experience with new friends, you’ll love the rally.

Don't forget to stay in touch with the Salty Dawgs on Facebook; Salty Dawg Sailing and Friends

The SDSA unites experienced ocean sailors with developing cruisers to broaden their blue water horizons.  All Salty Dawg rallies and events are led by seasoned sailors who volunteer their time and knowledge to help cruisers realize their dreams.  


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2021 Downeast Rally Participant List



If you would like to join us as a volunteer, we would love to benefit from your passion, personality, and expertise as we plan future events. Click here to volunteer.

  • Rally Manager: this position acts as the Rally Director's assistant.  The Rally Manager does the detailed organizing and planning for the rally.  Sharing with the Rally Director, hosts some of the Captains Calls. Participation in the rally itself is not necessary.  This position is flexible to accommodate your time for availability.
  • Fleet Captain: this position takes over in the departure location with help from the Port Captains.  The Fleet Captain and Port Captain share in welcoming activities and any events.  After departure from any port, keeps the fleet organized.
  • Port Captains: this position takes the plans made in cooperation with the Rally Manager and implements them at each Port. The Port Captains and the Fleet Captain share in welcoming activities and planned events.

Helpful Links

Sailing with Kids
Sailing with Pets



As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the SDSA will continue to explore the best ways to conduct its 2021 activities in as safe and enjoyable a manner as possible.  Towards that goal, we have established protocols and requirements that will be in effect for the 2021 DelMarVa Rally, Downeast Rally and summer rendezvous events.  In addition, please note that the SDSA Board of Directors will adopt separate policies for the 2021 Fall Caribbean Rally and Annapolis Rendezvous, and further updates on those events will be announced to our Members and subscribers, and shown on the SDSA webpages.

Below are requirements the SDSA Board has adopted for the 2021 DelMarVa Rally, Downeast Rally and summer rendezvous events.  The specific protocols will be provided on the webpages for each event.

The CDC states that "all COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19."  Furthermore, these vaccines are increasing in availability throughout the US.    Therefore, the SDSA has adopted the following requirements and guidelines for participation in the 2021 DelMarVa Rally, the 2021 Downeast Rally, and the 2021 summer rendezvous events:   

1)  Individuals who have completed an effective vaccination regimen are invited to participate without a need to isolate or test for COVID before the rally, and must agree to follow CDC guidelines for vaccinated individuals.

2) Individuals who have a history of prior COVID infection and no vaccination yet, a medical reason (contraindication) that prevents them from taking any of the US EUA or fully approved vaccines, or for logistical reasons are unable to get one (e.g., too young to be eligible), must agree to follow CDC guidelines for unvaccinated individuals.   In addition to following CDC guidelines, unvaccinated participants must agree to avoid risky activities for the 10-14 days leading up to the start of the rally, and to provide a negative COVID test a few days before they join the rally. 

Click here to see the most current CDC guidance. At this time, local and state guidelines appear to be easing travel restrictions, but participants should adhere to any regulations that are in effect at the time of the events. If visiting other countries in your travels, visit Noonsite for Covid restrictions for these countries.  

Please refer to each event's homepages to learn the specific details for 2021.  Note also that should a significant change in the COVID-19 situation occur, a modification of the event requirements and recommendations may become necessary.  

We appreciate the diligence of our captains and crew in complying with the protocols and requirements we have established for these events over the past year.  The SDSA strives to keep all our participants safe, as we continue to plan both safe and enjoyable 2021 activities. 

Hank George, President, SDSA

April 30, 2021