What Is Needed for a Salty Dawg Rally?


The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) does not inspect vessels for seaworthiness or compliance with US Coast Guard requirements.  Each owner or captain is 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.


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

  • 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 and Homeward Bound Rallies:

  • 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 offshore rally. 
  • If the owner or captain does not have offshore sailing experience, he or she must acquire crew meeting the offshore experience 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, with location and MMSI properly programmed
  • Handheld VHF radio
  • All safety equipment required to meet USCG regulations

For Offshore Rallies

Each vessel must have two offshore communications devices, one of which must be capable of sending the vessel’s position four times daily.    

  • One device must be capable of sending and receiving long form email
  • One device must be capable of sending the vessel’s position to our tracking map at least four times daily. Acceptable tracking devices include only a member of the Garmin inReach family, and the Zoleo Communicator. Each of these devices is also an acceptable communications device (not for long form email).


For All Rallies 

  • Location and MMSI properly programmed into relevant devices
  • Emergency VHF antenna
  • Handheld GPS
  • AIS transponder
  • Radar
  • Inflatable Life Jackets/Safety Harness with tether for all crew with whistle and strobe light
  • Jacklines on deck and in the cockpit
  • Paper charts or electronic charts on a backup device such as iPad or smart phone
  • All safety equipment required by the destination country
  • Lifesling and/or MOB device such as a MOM module or pole, life ring and floating light combination
  • Throw rope
  • Emergency Plugs correctly sized to fit, and attached to, each thru hull fitting

For Offshore Rallies

  • International MMSI properly programmed into relevant devices
  • Emergency Position Indicating Beacon (EPIRB) – properly registered and battery in date as of arrival at the destination
  • Life raft sufficient for the crew aboard, with current inspection
  • Emergency steering system
  • Ditch bag with necessary survival and medical stores for ten days (e.g., GPS, handheld VHF, binoculars, flares, copies of crew passports, crew medication)


 For All Rallies

  • Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) and/or AIS or DSC MOB devices.
  • High-powered spotlight
  • High-capacity bilge pumps, both automatic and manual

 For Offshore Rallies

  • Mainsail with three Reef Points unless you have in mast or in boom furling or carry a separate storm sail to replace the mainsail
  • Fuel sufficient to motor at least twenty-five percent of the passage.
  • Drinking water sufficient for one half gallon per person per day for twenty days
  • Food on board for 1½ times the expected length of the passage
  • Comprehensive first aid kit (with motion sickness prevention meds)
  • Storm headsail
  • Storm drogue or parachute sea anchor
  • SOLAS Flares
  • Offshore planning chart (NOAA Chart 108)
  • Spare parts for all key equipment on board including engine belts, water pump impellers, motor brushes, freshwater pump, fuel and oil filters, electrical fuses, oil, and coolant.
  • Emergency repair tape (self-amalgamating for hoses and pipes), epoxy, hose clamps, assorted screws, nuts, and washers
  • All tools necessary to effect emergency repairs



  • Test offshore email capability with Rally Communication Team
  • Test VHF
  • Confirm 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


The 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
  • Ensure that all fuel containers, water containers or other gear stored on deck are well lashed down
  • Ensure 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 professionally 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
  • Check engine manufacturer recommendations on minimum operating rpm, and recommended compensating actions for long term low rpm operation in order to conserve fuel

For additional useful information on preparing for a rally, including articles from experts and checklists, see the section Preparing for Offshore.