What’s Needed for A Salty Dawg Rally: Equipment, Preparation, and Experience

Click here to Download and Print a PDF of the Required and Recommended Equipment for a Salty Dawg Rally

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association does not inspect vessels for seaworthiness or compliance with U.S. Coast Guard requirements. Each owner or captain is ultimately responsible to ensure his vessel meets all Federal and State requirements and that the vessel and crew are properly equipped and qualified to withstand the rigors of the passage to be undertaken while participating in a Salty Dawg Rally. Accordingly, the Owner/Captain is the best individual to inspect the vessel and equipment, or make the decisions to engage professional experts where he or she does not have the requisite expertise. The Salty Dawg Sailing Association may provide recommendations and assist with any concerns from participants regarding preparations for an offshore passage.

To facilitate inspection of the vessel by the owner or others who are acting on behalf of the owner, the Salty Dawg Sailing Association has identified a series of valuable Pre-Offshore Checklists which can be found in the Preparing for Offshore section of our website. All captains are encouraged to use these checklists.

For a salty dawg rally:

Required Equipment and Experience

For near-shore rallies such as the Rally to Maine:

  • Each vessel will have a method of communication that allows two-way communication between the vessel and other vessels in the rally. A permanently mounted VHF radio meets this requirement. The captain will have knowledge and experience in general boat handling, sail trim, reefing, navigation, vessel-to-vessel communications protocols, and rules of the road when encountering other vessels.

For offshore rallies such as the Fall Rally to the Caribbean or the    Spring Rally to the US:

  • Each vessel will have a method to communicate with the SDSA Shoreside Coordinator and weather forecaster by email while at sea.  Acceptable devices are, SSB radio with email capability, email-capable satellite phone, an email device such as Iridium Go. A Garmin InReach or similar device capable of sending and receiving messages is also acceptable.
  • Independent of the email capability in Item #1, each vessel will have a method for reporting their position twice each day to the Shoreside Coordinators and Ocens Tracking Map.  Preferred methods for position reporting are Garmin InReach, SPOT Tracker or similar satellite tracking device.  Also, SSB radio communication with an SDSA net controller, satellite phone contact with the Shoreside Coordinator, or a second email capability can be other methods to provide position reporting.
  • Your email capability will serve as the backup or primary means of position reporting, thus ensuring redundancy for position reporting.

Required Sailing Experience for the Fall Rally to the Caribbean or the Spring Rally to the US: 

  • The owner or captain who will be responsible for sailing the vessel is required to have offshore sailing experience. Experience can be demonstrated by furnishing a sailing resume documenting at least three nights of offshore experience or by participating in a previous SDSA rally.

In the event that the owner or captain does not have offshore sailing experience, he or she must acquire crew for the rally with extensive offshore sailing experience in order to meet this requirement

Highly Recommended Equipment

For All Rallies: 

  • Inflatable Life Jackets/Safety Harness with tether for all crew
  • AIS with receive and transmit capabilities
  • VHF with DSC capability with MMSI number properly installed
  • Handheld VHF
  • Hand Held GPS for back up
  • Paper Charts to backup chart plotter

For Offshore Rallies: 

  • Emergency Position Indicating Beacon (EPIRB) – properly registered
  • Life raft sufficient for the crew aboard
  • 3 Reef Points on the main unless you have in mast or in boom furling

Recommended Equipment

 For All Rallies: 

  • Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) or Personal AIS
  • High-powered spotlight
  • Emergency steering system
  • Jacklines on deck and in the cockpit
  • High capacity bilge pumps, automatic and manual
  • Wooden Plugs to correctly sized to fit through hull fittings in the event of a broken fitting
  • Lifesling MOB device
  • Throwable Safety line for MOB emergencies

 For Offshore Rallies 

  • Fuel sufficient to motor at least 25% of the passage.
  • Drinking water sufficient for a ½ gallon, per person for 20 days
  • Food on board for 1.5 times the expected length of the passage
  • Ditch bag with necessary survival and medical stores for 10 days
  • Three reef points in mainsail (and mizzen)
  • Storm headsail
  • Drogue (Gale Rider recommended)
  • Parachute Sea Anchor
  • SOLAS Flares

Recommended Preparations

Owner and primary crew should have made an offshore passage of three nights or more. Or have crew on board who have extensive offshore experience.

  • Sail your boat in heavy weather and practice reefing so that each crew member can reef the sails.
  • Insure that all fuel containers, water containers or other gear stored on deck is well lashed down.
  • Insure that you have removed or secured the anchor to the bow roller.
  • Have rigging professionally checked and tuned
  • Have sails checked
  • Have engine serviced
  • If not done recently, have fuel tanks cleaned
  • Have steering system and autopilot thoroughly checked and serviced
  • Update all paper and electronic charts
  • Meet with doctor to prepare ship’s medical kit
    • Understand the medical requirements of your crew
  • Practice and become proficient with all equipment on board such as: radar, chart plotters, SSB, sat phone.
  • Check keel bolts and keel attachment thoroughly
  • Practice man-overboard maneuvers
  • Practice using emergency steering, spare rudder systems