Salty Dawg Rally - from grass roots and growing

Jeanneau 54DS Sapphire - sailed by Linda and Bill Knowles and their Jack Russell called Brie, organisers of the Salty Dawg Rally
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The Salty Dawg Rally, a new cruising rally, kicked off its 2012 season with more boats, more sponsors, new web domains, and a joyful pre-departure barbecue party in Nanny Cay, Tortola that drew accolades from the Government of the Virgin Islands.

The original salty dawg - Brie
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The Salty Dawg Rally is a ‘grass-roots’ rally, free for all participants, founded by cruising enthusiasts Bill & Linda Knowles of Bristol, Rhode Island, with their Jeanneau 54DS, Sapphire, and their Jack Russell terrier, Brie, the original 'Salty Dawg'.

The rally leaves Hampton, Virginia in the fall, headed for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other ports in the Caribbean, and returns to the participants’ various home ports in the spring.

As the Rally has grown in popularity, the Knowles, aided by various sponsors, have watched the Rally grow in both membership and offerings for participants. 'We are very excited to announce that the Rally is now officially the Salty DAWG Rally,' says Linda Knowles, Co-founder. 'This has enabled us to obtain the URLs for saltydawgrally.com, saltydawgrally.org and saltydawgrally.net. We have begun the process of developing a web site, where visitors will be able to learn all about our Rally and share photographs, information for other sailors, as well as their experiences.'

Prior to sailing north earlier this spring, the Rally hosted a pre-departure barbecue and party at Nanny Cay, a popular destination located on the South side of Tortola, BVI, between the capital, Road Town, and West End. At the gathering, Mrs. V. Inez Archibald, Deputy Governor, Government of the Virgin Islands, encouraged the Rally members, extended a warm welcome to them to return in the fall of 2012, and was named an ‘official’ Salty Dawg Rally member. Members of the Rally currently receive sponsor-supplied products and services including reliable weather routing, chart sets, fuel discounts, unique Salty Dawg coffee mugs handmade in the BVI, and more.

'We’re expecting a much bigger turnout this fall at Hampton,' Bill Knowles says, 'It’s a great trip, with the emphasis on safety and community. There’s no fee to participate. The original concept was to gather a few friends for the passage south in the fall,' he adds, 'But this initial thought quickly grew and expanded thanks to the overwhelming interest from other boaters who heard about our plan. So the Salty Dawg Rally was born!'

The Salty Dawg Rally is comprised of blue water sailors who have completed at least one blue water passage. There is no formal inspection of each boat, since it is the responsibility of each skipper to have proper safety equipment and to ensure that the vessel is prepared for the passage.

Information including weather, Gulf Stream analysis, location of eddies, and daily weather forecasts during the passage is provided to each skipper by well-known weather router Chris Parker, courtesy of Blue Water Sailing magazine.

Volunteer Dick Giddings manages float plans for all of the boats in the fleet and maintains a daily SSB radio schedule, as well as daily positions for everyone (via HF radio and SatPhone).

It is each skipper’s responsibility to decide the course and whether or not to set out for the passage.

The next planned movement for the Salty Dawg Rally is leaving from Hampton, VA November 4, 2012, then a return trip to the States on May 15, 2013 from the British Virgin Islands (BVI), while some of the boats may be leaving from the USVI, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, etc.

The majority will leave from the BVI where pre-departure parties are being planned, the same as this year.

The next planned return trip to the Caribbean will be sometime in the beginning of November, 2013.

For more information about joining the Rally, contact Bill & Linda Knowles at svsapphire@aol.com.