What Is Needed For a Salty Dawg Rally?


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The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) does not inspect vessels for seaworthiness or compliance with US Coast Guard requirements.  Each owner or captain is ultimately responsible to ensure their 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 to make the decisions to engage professional experts where he or she does not have the requisite expertise. The SDSA 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 SDSA has identified a series of valuable Pre-Offshore Checklists which can be found in the Preparing for Offshore document.  All captains are encouraged to use these checklists.


For near-shore rallies such as the Downeast and Maritime Rally:

  • 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. In addition, the Captain must have at least coastal cruising experience, and should have overnight sailing experience.

For offshore rallies such as the Caribbean Rally or the Homeward Bound Rally:

  • The owner or captain who will be responsible for the operation and safety of the vessel is required to have offshore sailing experience.  Experience can be demonstrated by furnishing a sailing resume documenting at least one passage of three nights or longer 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 meeting the minimum offshore experience in order to meet this requirement.



With the underlying philosophy that each captain is responsible for ensuring that his vessel is properly prepared to participate in a rally, the SDSA has minimal equipment requirements.

For All Rallies:

  • VHF Radio permanently mounted and handheld VHF for back up.
  • USCG recommended equipment

For Offshore Rallies:

We require that each participating vessel have at least two offshore communications devices, one of which must be capable of sending the vessel’s position four times daily.    

  • The first device must be capable of sending and receiving long form email.
  • The second device must be capable of communicating with the SDSA shoreside team, either directly or through one of our SSB radio nets.
  • One of these devices must be capable of sending the vessel’s position to our tracking map at least four times daily.

Read more about Communications Requirements here.


For All Rallies: 

  • Inflatable Life Jackets/Safety Harness with tether for all crew with whistle and strobe light
  • VHF Radio permanently mounted
  • Handheld VHF
  • Emergency VHF antenna
  • Hand Held GPS for back up
  • Paper Charts or electronic charts on a back-up device such as iPad or smart phone to backup chart plotter.
  • All safety equipment to meet USCG regulations for US flagged vessels. All safety equipment required by safety regulations for the country of the flag of registry for all other vessels.  All safety equipment required by the destination country.

For Offshore Rallies (Caribbean Rally, Homeward Bound Rally): 

  • All equipment as listed above
  • Emergency Position Indicating Beacon (EPIRB) – properly registered and battery in date as of arrival at the destination
  • Life raft sufficient for the crew aboard
  • Emergency steering system
  • Jacklines on deck and in the cockpit
  • Emergency Plugs correctly sized to fit through hull fittings in the event of a broken fitting
  • Lifesling and Man Over Board device such as a MOM module or pole, life ring and floating light combination
  • Throwable Safety line for MOB emergencies


  • Test offshore email capability with Rally Communication Team
  • Test VHF with Rally Communication Team
  • Test position reporting posting on Rally Tracking Map
  • Test/confirm receipt of Chris Parker weather forecasts on offshore email address
  • Test SMS capability (if equipped) with Rally Communication Team
  • Test SSB radio (if equipped) transmit and receive capability with Rally Communication Team


 For All Rallies: 

  • Personal AIS – MOB device.
  • VHF with DSC and MMSI number properly installed
  • High-powered spotlight
  • High capacity bilge pumps, automatic and manual
  • Radar

 For Offshore Rallies (Caribbean and Homeward Bound Rallies):

  • Main sail with 3 Reef Points unless you have in mast or in boom furling or carry a separate storm sail to replace the main sail
  • SSB Radio Transceiver
  • 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
  • Comprehensive first-aid kit (with motion sickness prevention meds)
  • Ditch bag with necessary survival and medical stores for 10 days
  • Storm headsail
  • Storm Drogue or Parachute Sea Anchor
  • SOLAS Flares
  • Offshore planning chart (NOAA Chart 108)
  • Spare parts for all equipment on board. Including engine belts, water pump impellers, brushes for all motors that have replaceable brushes, fresh water pump, fuel and oil filters, fuses for electrical equipment and circuits, oil and coolant. Have on hand emergency repair tape (self-amalgamating for hoses and pipes), Marinetex kit, spare hose clamps, screws-wood-portable drill/driver for emergency repairs.


Owner and primary crew should have made an offshore passage of three nights or more. Or have crew on board who have recommended 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 are 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 professionally
  • 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
  • Check engine manufacturer recommendations on minimum operating rpm, and recommended compensating actions for long term low rpm operation in order to conserve fuel.