Salty Dawg Rally FAQs


What is the minimum size of boat and crew?  The SDSA does not have a minimum boat size for our rallies.  Experienced sailors have circumnavigated with boats smaller than 30'.  Depending on the Captains experience and type of boat, we do recommend boats be at least 34' for any ocean passage and have at least two people on board.  Although we accept solo sailors, Captains with crew get more sleep, are able to handle situations better, etc.  Therefore, we recommend having crew.

How long will the rally take?  Each rally is a different duration.  See the specific rally page of the rally you may be interested in.

When does the rally start?  Each SDSA rally has a different start date, and this may change year to year.  See the specific rally page for start dates.

How long does rally support last?  Support for each rally lasts from departure to landing at the final destination with no prolonged stops along the way.  Although a specific departure date is planned for each rally, that date is weather-dependent (if weather is not good then the date changes to the next good departure date after the scheduled Rally Start).  Vessels whose departure is delayed due to mechanical or other problems are covered, as long as they are able to depart in a reasonable time-frame (the 1st reasonable weather window after repairs are complete, but in no instance more than 10 days after the rally departed). The GOAL is to have all registered vessels arrive at their 1st landfall (when coverage ends) within the prescribed period for each rally.

Can I start elsewhere?  Yes. Although the SDSA recommends all boats start together at one of the designated departure ports, some boats do depart from other locations.

Do I have to sail the whole way?  No, the SDSA does not limit how you make your way to the destination.  In fact, we have had motor yachts participate in our rallies.

Can I use my engine?  Use of engines is not only acceptable, but is a well established cruiser's tool for making a successful passage.  This is especially true during periods of no wind.  Many Captains will start an engine if cruising speed drops below 4 or 5 knots.  It is highly recommended that each boat carry enough fuel to motor at least 25% of the way to the destination.  This may include carrying extra 5 gallon fuel jugs.

What safety equipment do I need?  We have a list of required and recommended safety equipment that you should have on board the boat before the rally starts.

What training is required?  We recommend that the Captain and at least one of the crew have completed sailing courses (i.e. ASA or US Sailing), safety at sea classes, and at least one year of coastal sailing under instruction, preferably with overnight sailing. Or a combination of training and under instruction experience that would qualify. 

What experience is required?  This is dependent on the rally, and whether it is near-shore or offshore. For our near-shore rallies; The Captain should have at least one year of coastal sailing experience, preferably with an overnight passage.  For our offshore rallies; the captain is responsible for the operation and safety of the vessel in the open ocean and is required to have offshore overnight sailing experience.  Ideally, the Captain (or at least one crew-member) has a minimum of a multi-overnight blue-water passage with no intermediate stops.  Experience can be demonstrated by furnishing a sailing resume documenting at least one multi-overnight blue-water passage or by participating in a previous SDSA rally.  In the event that the captain does not have offshore sailing experience, he or she must acquire crew meeting the minimum offshore experience in order to meet this requirement.

Do I need an SSB radio?  No, the SDSA does not require boats to have SSB.  Those boats with SSB will be able to communicate with each other, with our Shoreside Coordinators, and with the Marine Weather Center. 

Can I take my children?  Absolutely!  Children of all ages have sailed in Salty Dawg rallies and usually join together as "kid boats" both before departure and after arrival at their destination. See our information on sailing with kids.

How do I find crew?  The SDSA has a Crew Service available to all members. Check out our About Crew, looking to crew and finding crew webpages.

Are Salty Dawg rallies a race?  No, all SDSA rallies are passage-making for cruisers.  Some Captains end up with friendly racing at the end of a rally as they rush to their destination, but that is between individual Captains and not part of the rally.

Do you have to depart when suggested?  Not necessarily.  Each rally is designed to take advantage of the best weather window as suggested by the Marine Weather Center.  It is up to each Captain to decide when to depart, based on their boat and crew readiness.  However, significant delays may result in support being limited.  These limitations are explained in the specific rally page.

What about visas?  If a country requires a visa for entry, it is the Captains responsibility to ensure those visa's are obtained before departure.

Can I take my pets?  This is country specific.  The SDSA does not limit any Captain from taking pets on the passage. See our information on Sailing with Pets.

How many people take part?   Most Salty Dawg rallies have between 20 and 30 boats participating.  The Caribbean Rally may have up to 100 boats.  Considering at least two people on board each boat, we expect between 60 and 300 people in any one rally. 

What about support during the rally?  The SDSA Shoreside Coordinators support all rallies.  The SDSA also has an Emergency Response Team standing by to assist Captains during the passage.  Both teams may be contacted by mobile phone or email.

How can families at home stay in touch with the boats?   Boats equipped with a reporting capability (Iridium GO!, Garmin InReach or equivalent) are tracked by PredictWind and family and friends may watch progress during the passage.  In addition, for those boats with offshore email capability, family and friends will be able to readily communicate.  Also, immediate family members of participants are given contact information to reach the Shoreside Coordinators, who can relay emergency messages to a boat at sea.

What does it cost?  SDSA members may register for a rally at a low fee.  Fees are different for each rally and are shown on each specific rally page.  There is an entry fee for each rally, as described in the specific rally fee pages.  The Captain must be a member and pay the rally fee.  Crew members may choose to join as a member but are not required to.

What is included? The Rally benefits are extensive, nearly identical for each rally, and are listed in each of the specific rally pages.

Are there requirements to join the SDSA?  There are no requirements to become a member of the SDSA.  The fee of $75 is the same for new memberships and renewals.  There are different minimal requirements to participate in a rally, including; being a member, having appropriate experience, and having the required equipment aboard the boat.  

What is Ocean Class category?  If you are a SDSA Member and have completed a non-stop ocean passage of 1,400 nautical miles or more, you qualify to be recognized on the Ocean Class Register.

What is World Class category?  If you are a SDSA Member and have met the criteria for Ocean Class AND completed a circumnavigation or completed over 15,000 miles of ocean sailing (based solely on the Ocean Class qualifying passage plus other non-stop passages of over 600 NM) you qualify to be recognized on the World Class Register.

Can I volunteer to assist in a rally?  Absolutely!  The SDSA is a volunteer run organization, and we are always looking for volunteers to assist in training seminars, running a rally, and more. Check out some SDSA volunteer opportunities (scroll to the middle of the page).


What is the SDSA's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic?  The SDSA will continue to explore the best ways to conduct activities in as safe and enjoyable a manner as possible.  Refer to the specific rally or rendezvous home page for the details that pertain to that event.   



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