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Salty Dawg Summer 2023 PDF Print Email
Wednesday, March 15, 2023 01:07 PM

The Salty Dawg Summer is going to be a busy one.  

Salty Dawg Homeward Bound Rally Registration is Open     

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association has hosted a rally from the Caribbean to the U.S.  East Coast since 2012.  In 2020 The Salty Dawgs renamed it The Homeward Bound Rally, bringing hundreds of COVID-19 stranded cruisers to the United States for the summer.  The rally continues and this year there are some exciting changes.  In the past the rally began in St. Thomas, USVI, and it will still do so, but this year there are other options.   Rally participants can also choose to leave from Marsh Harbor, Bahamas or from Bermuda.  The rally includes weather routing by The Marine Weather Center, position tracking by PredictWind, and an extensive level of coordination and support by the SDSA support teams during the offshore passage.  

This past autumn many of the SDSA Caribbean Rally participants wanted to stop in Bermuda on their way south but weather made that option difficult, so Bermuda is now an added option for the north-bound Homeward Bound participants.  After an April 29 departure dinner in Antigua the rally boats will head to their northern departure points on or about May 1.   Cruisers gathering at the departure points can expect the usual Salty Dawg pre-departure social and security meet-ups.  Boats meeting up in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands will head to the US on or about May 10.  The Bermuda to U.S. departure date is scheduled for May 14.  

As always, the Dawgs have a busy summer sailing season scheduled with rallies up the US East Coast from Annapolis to Nova Scotia with the Downeast Rally and the Maritime Rally, and rendezvous in Essex CT, Newport RI, and Rockland ME.   The summer rallies are a great way for sailors to gain off-shore sailing experience while they have a great time meeting Salty Dawgs and learning about their mission to help sailors become cruisers.  Use this link for information on the rallies and this link for information on other events.   

All Salty Dawg rallies and events are led by seasoned sailors who volunteer their time and knowledge to help cruisers realize their dreams.  The Salty Dawg Sailing Association is a Rhode Island registered 501c 3 non-profit organization dedicated to fostering safe seamanship, safe passage-making, and camaraderie in the cruising community.   

Eight Bells for Rick Palm PDF Print Email
Tuesday, February 28, 2023 02:49 PM

Eight Bells for Rick Palm: Gramp Rick's a Good Guy

Richard Victor “ Rick” Palm died on February 28, 2023 at his home in Hardyville VA. His friends and family will remember him for his spirit of adventure and his dedication to “giving back” to those who shared his passions. His passions were many but sailing across oceans and wood-working top the list. He believed strongly in experiential learning and seeks to leave his legacy to programs that encourage kids to learn with their hands.

His epitaph was unknowingly created by his Grandson Owen years ago at age three, when he earnestly confided in his father, saying… “Grandpa Rick’s a good guy.” Out of the mouth of babes!

Rick was born near Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1945 in what was then known as a “foundling home.” His birth name was Rayburn Hoddinut; his Birth Mother was from Newfoundland. At six months old, he was adopted and renamed by Victor and Pansy Palm from Brooklyn NY. He became a US citizen in high school and lived in Brooklyn until he enlisted in the Air Force in 1967. A highlight of his childhood was the family’s annual summer vacation in New London CT where he learned to sail.

His sailing adventures spanned over 50 years and took Rick and his wife Julie around the world, across the Atlantic twice, to and from the Caribbean a dozen times, and up and down the coast of North America from Nova Scotia to the Keys. He relished nothing more than helping coastal sailors prepare for their first offshore passages, both with the Caribbean 1500 and the Salty Dawg Sailing Association. He was honored to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Salty Dawgs in 2022.

Whether refining his Crocodile Dundee/Indiana Jones image in the outback of Australia, reeling in a gigantic mahi-mahi in the middle of the Gulf Stream, or installing the latest must-have gadget on the boat, Rick attacked each new venture with gusto, dedicated to expanding the “bandwidth of his brain,” as he would often say.

On land, Rick developed his skills as a wood turner and wood worker. He taught wood turning at The Woodturning School in Damariscotta ME and served on the board of The Apprenticeship, a boat-building school, in Rockland ME. On his lathe, he created works of art ranging from pepper mills and bowls, to platters and Christmas tree ornaments. He and Julie built furniture each winter, starting with Craftsman designs for their home in Maine and evolving to more modern pieces for their home in Virginia. Isolation during the pandemic was no problem …. Just an opportunity to build a Peapod rowing boat in the shop.

He frequently said that he was “working to live” rather than “living to work,” but that being said, he enjoyed a long and successful career in sales and marketing management for several health care companies. When he and Julie took a “mid-career sabbatical” to circumnavigate in 1990-1992, Rick discovered that managing a sailboat around the world was excellent training for starting his own business. So, when they returned, he started a business assembling computer cables in the Boston area. He earned his private pilot’s license and flew up and down the East Coast, servicing customers from Alabama to New England. He sold the company in 2002.

Dedication to family was a dominant part of Rick’s life. While his parents died before he was in his 30’s and he was an only child, he adopted Julie’s family quickly, enjoying sailing trips with her Father and raising Julie’s son Ted as his own. Nothing pleased him more than watching his two grandsons Owen and Eli mature into young adults. Rick tried valiantly to encourage Ted, Ted’s wife Rebecca, Owen and Eli to share his passion for sailing. Only Eli seems to have taken the bait and has enjoyed many Junior Week adventures at the Fishing Bay Yacht Club in Deltaville. The Virgin Islands, both British and American, were special family cruising grounds on vacations none will ever forget.

Recently, when asked how he would like to be remembered, Rick was clear … he wants to be remembered as a part of the intimate relationship he and Julie forged together in their 40 year marriage. Whether as a duo sailing across oceans, as four hands working in concert on a furniture-building project, or, in the end, as focused problem-solvers facing the challenges of his advancing cancer, they learned to complement each other’s very contrasting styles. “If there are two ways to do something, Julie will do it one way and I’ll do it the other,” he would often say, and then add “And over time, we learned that the give-and-take result was better than either of the ways we each started with.”

In the seven years since Rick was diagnosed with cancer, he became a “poster boy” for how to live with cancer as a chronic disease. Nothing stopped him from participating in family events, designing creative shop projects, or going places on the water. He learned from the many medical professionals who teamed up to add quality years to his life and was probably the most compliant patient they ever had. Hoping to advance treatments for future cancer patients, he participated in a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug after the FDA-approved options available to him had been exhausted. In the end, he made the decision to stop treatment and enter hospice care on his own timetable.

To those wishing to acknowledge Rick’s life, please consider contributing a donation in his name to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a non-profit organization devoted to the restoration and protection of the Bay … one of Rick’s favorite cruising grounds.

Caribbean Rally Fall 2022 Underway: Update PDF Print Email
Friday, November 18, 2022 02:49 PM

November 18, 2022

Salty Dawg Caribbean Rally Fall 2022 Underway: Update

The Salty Dawg Caribbean Rally boats bound from Newport, RI, Hampton, VA and other ports in the Mid-Atlantic region are now all underway. Some 70 boats, flying flags of registry from the U.S., Canada and several other nations are at sea and bound for Antigua in the Eastern Caribbean. 

The mid-November start follows a November 1 weather delay for the Antigua fleet. But, on or around November 1, the Salty Dawg Bahamas fleet of close to 30 boats did get underway and all arrived at their destinations in good order. Most of the Bahamas fleet ended up at Marsh Harbour, Abacos where end-of-rally festivities took place. It is worth noting that tropical storm Nicole passed over the Abacos after the SDSA fleet arrived without causing incident to any of the boats.

Most of the Antigua fleet got underway on Saturday November 12 after weather guidance from rally weather consultant Chris Parker gave the green light to depart, and he offered detailed routing for boats to cross the Gulf Stream safely and manage the first half of the trip under a strong northwesterly flow. At the time of this release, some 70 boats and approximately 200 crew were at sea, with majority poised to enter the trade winds beginning on Friday, November 18. The first boats in the fleet are planning to arrive in Antigua this weekend, November 20. 

Reports of incidents from the fleet were very few considering more than 100 boats are involved.  Here are reports from two boats that had to withdraw from the rally due to rudder and autopilot issues. Big Adventure reported hitting an object in the water two days out that damaged their rudder. The SDSA Shoreside and Emergency Response Team worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to get them towed back to the Chesapeake Bay for repairs.

Irish Tango, which was headed back to the Chesapeake for repairs to its auto pilot was referred to the U.S. Coast Guard by a nearby ship and, working with the SDSA Shoreside Team, was towed into port for repairs. Reports on Irish Tango’s incident have appeared in the press and social media but the SDSA confirms that Irish Tango is in port, despite an arduous return to the Bay in a strong northwest blow.

Rally tracking link

Crew positions available heading to the Caribbean! PDF Print Email
Monday, August 22, 2022 07:09 AM

Crew positions available heading to the Caribbean!

There are lots of reasons to become a member of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association but the best reason right now is that we are expecting a record number of boats in our rally to the Caribbean this fall and everyone is looking for crew.  

With more than 100 boats heading south with the rally this year, every day our crew forum (available to members only) has new postings for crew positions, both experienced and those new to blue water sailing.   What better way to build valuable experience than to participate in the largest rally to the Caribbean from the US East Coast. 

Boats will be heading to both Antigua, our primary destination, as well as The Bahamas.  

There will be pre-departure events in Hampton, VA and Newport, RI well as arrival events at both destinations.  In particular, arrival events in Antigua begin on November 12th and run daily through Thanksgiving.  All are very reasonably priced and many are free to all.  

Our many volunteers strive to transfer knowledge and skills from veteran “Salty Dawgs” to less experienced cruisers, enabling independent decision-making and offshore confidence.


If you are planning your first ocean passage and can’t wait to explore new worlds or are an old salt and want to share your knowledge with others, membership in the Salty Dawg Sailing Association is perfect for you.

Join us to take advantage of benefits for both experienced and developing sailors. Come rub shoulders with other Salty Dawgs. Join at the Family Membership level now for $75 per year and receive full Member Benefits! Your membership year begins when you pay your annual fee.  Click the “Join” icon to be a part of the fun! Salty Dawg Burgees are available from the Ship Store at an additional cost.

With a record number of boats heading south with us this fall, now is the time to join us.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Details about the Caribbean Rally

In Memory of Bill Knowles PDF Print Email
Friday, May 06, 2022 04:08 PM

In Memory of Salty Dawg Founder Bill Knowles

On Thursday April 28, William (Bill) Knowles, founder and first president of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association died after a long illness. As noted by a friend who had seen him only two days before, Bill had been up and about and had been able to join them for lunch despite his illness. Two days later he was gone. His partner and dear wife Linda Knowles predeceased Bill by two years. 

Together, Bill and Linda were a force of nature. They were long-time sailors and had spent about a decade of their retirement years sailing back and forth to the British Virgin Island each fall and spring aboard their Jeanneau 54 Sapphire.  Swinging on a mooring in Tortola’s West End, Sapphire was a well-known landmark all winter and the Knowles were well-known for entertaining friends aboard. In summer, they sailed home to Bristol, RI, where their summer friends often joined them for gams and sundowners.

In 2011, after the Caribbean 1500, in which the Knowles had sailed several times, was taken over by World Cruising Club, the Knowles decided to break away and make the trip to the BVI with some like-minded friends. Word of this plan got out and by departure time in early November the fleet, known as the Salty Dawgs, had grown to more than 30 boats. Out of that first rally, the SDSA was born. You can read more about the ensuing history of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association here.

Since 2011, close to one thousand boats and some five thousand sailors have taken part in Salty Dawg Rallies and attended the SDSA educational seminars. And, true to the Knowles love of life, they also have attended numerous fun and memorable parties. 

The sailing and cruising philosophy that Bill and Linda brought to their time at sea and to the rallies they started, was based on a deep respect for the ocean and for the fundamentals of seamanship, self-reliance and the camaraderie of sailors everywhere. Bill and Linda’s legacy lies in all of the thousands of sailors who have sailed in their rallies and benefited from their example.

Bob Osborn, the third and current president of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association, noted after Bill’s death, “Bill and Linda Knowles brought the salty dawg rally to life by sheer force of will, a true kitchen table beginning for what has matured into a remarkable organization, educating thousands of blue water sailors over the decade since they founded the organization in 2012.  The cruising community owes them a debt of gratitude.” 

Hank George, who served as the second president after Bill, remarked, “Bill was a good friend and a fellow sailing fanatic who will be missed but not forgotten. His warm smile and engaging personality encouraged many sailors as they faced a challenging offshore passage. His passion for sailing and example of sailors helping sailors are embodied in the Salty Dawg Sailing Association and represent his lasting legacy to the world’s sailing community.”

Jo Ella Barnes, the current secretary of the SDSA board of directors, offered this remembrance. 

“We became good friends during our second trip to the Caribbean in 2015-16.  Our boat had transmission problems and we stayed on a mooring near their boat in West End. Linda came down with something during that time and I helped “nurse” her back to health.  My husband Matt and I went over to Sapphire every day and cooked and visited with them both even after she recovered. Bill once told Matt that his father told him, “It was important in life to have a strong handshake and be able to mix a strong drink.“ Matt can attest Bill had achieved both. “

As Matt and Jo discovered, everyone who ever knew Bill has had his or her hand crushed in his giant grip. And anyone who ever stopped by Sapphire for a sundowner, any time of day, also learned that he did not like to spoil rum with too much mixer.  Both Bill and Linda will be long missed in the cruising community.

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association is a vibrant volunteer run organization that helps sailors develop blue water sailing skills. Membership and donations enable us to keep Rally, Webinar and Event costs low. If you would like to donate in Bill's memory, please use the link below.

Donate Here

The SDSA is a qualified* tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit therefore donations are tax deductible. 

George Day

VP SDSA Board of Directors

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