SDSA Downeast Rally

Depart Hampton, VA July 5, depart New England July 13, 2024. 

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.

 Prior to the 2021 Downeast Rally, Bob Osborn, rally director, and Bennett Kashdan, Newport port officer, shared the plans for the rally, recommended preparations, and what cruising Down East Maine has to offer. We encourage you to review it.

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

"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 and the Homeward Bound 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 gathering in Hampton are expected to depart for Newport and follow a blue water route up the East Coast. Boats departing Hampton 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 a planned stop in Cuttyhunk, 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. Boats will also have the opportunity to continue North and join the Maritime Rally. This group is expected to depart the Penobscot Bay mid July and meet up with the rest of the Maritime Rally boats in Shelburne. Note the Maritime rally is held ever other year, not in 2024.

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 Homeward Rally.  VHF radio communications equipment is required, including both fixed and portable radios.  Captains may not need a 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.

 Tentative schedule -more details coming soon.


Description (note – Departure dates are all subject to weather / Sea state)

Wed July 3

Skippers Weather Briefing and Hampton Rendezvous (Bull Island Brewery)

July 5

Depart Hampton for Newport

Monday July 8

Newport Rendezvous 

Tues July 9
Wed July 10

Newport Tours 

Thurs July 11


Sat July 13

Departure for Rockland 

Tues July 16

Rockland Rendezvous 

Wed July 17

Maine Mini Cruise: (optional)

Thur July 18

Maine Mini Cruise: 

Fri July 19

Maine Mini Cruise: 

Sat July 20

Maine Mini Cruise:


2024 Downeast Participants


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.  



All Salty Dawg rallies and events are led by seasoned sailors who volunteer their time and knowledge to help cruisers realize their dreams.   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.  Contact Us to Volunteer.

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