From the Helm: What the Dawgs do is amazing!

by Bob Osborn

It’s hard to believe that by the time that this newsletter is out, nearly 100 boats will be heading south with the Salty Dawg Caribbean Rally, bound for Antigua and The Bahamas. 

Of course, if you are not in the rally, you can follow along as skippers and crew make their way south, at this link.  Be sure to share this with others who might want to enjoy following along.  

Nearly half of the fleet will be making their longest run to date, and to head out to sea on such a passage is a very big deal.   While there are not any hard numbers on exactly how many boats make a major offshore run each year, Chris Parker of Marine Weather Center, the official weather router for the rally, as well as George Day, publisher of “Blue Water Sailing” magazine estimate that perhaps upwards of 1,000 boats make their way south each season from the US east coast to the Caribbean or Bahamas.  These estimates exclude boats that run to Bermuda, a run of about 700 miles or less, about half of the distance to the Caribbean.  


Considering that there are about 90,000 sailboats registered in the US that are even close to big enough to make such a run, say 30’ and larger, what the Dawgs do is a very big deal representing a very small fraction of boats that could potentially make such a voyage.   If you take your boat to sea as part of the Caribbean Rally, pat yourself on the back as you are part of a very rarified group, a vanishingly small number of sailors who have the skills and a boat capable of a major ocean voyage.  When I make landfall with Pandora in English Harbor in a few weeks, and meet up with the fleet of Dawgs, I will be very proud to be a part of such a remarkable group of sailors.  

Salty Dawg was founded by Bill and Linda Knowles with the goal of helping sailors gain the skills to undertake and safely complete, an ocean voyage.   It was in this spirit a year ago, that we announced the “Founders Award”, to recognize one of our own who most exemplifies the spirit of the Dawgs, of sailors helping sailors. 

At the Annapolis rendezvous during the Sailboat Show, we announced the first recipient of this important recognition.   

One of the hallmarks of our rallies is knowing that someone “has your back” while you are on passage.  Of all the wonderful programs that SDSA provides, the support that the Shoreside team provides the entire fleet during every rally really stands out. 

While there are many volunteers that support our organization, the awards committee chose to recognize a member of our Shoreside Support team to be honored. Mindy Piuk joined us for the presentation via Zoom from Newcastle, England, where she and her husband Reinhart were moored and aboard their boat SV Rockhopper. During this year’s rally, she will be monitoring the fleet from London, at St. Katherine’s Dock.

Mindy and Reinhart got to know the Dawgs when they did their first Caribbean Rally with the Dawgs in 2016.  Mindy was immediately hooked on the group and for the last four years she has volunteered long hours to support the many boats in our rallies.  This job is very demanding and Mindy, along with many others, keep vigil around the clock to ensure that anyone that needs help can get it.  

There are dozens of volunteers that make our group successful but none more than Mindy, with all that she does to help keep us safe at sea.

Going to sea in a small boat is a big deal and despite all the sophisticated equipment and support, it ultimately comes down to the care and skill of the skipper and crew that make for a successful voyage. All that Mindy and others do to “have your back” makes it all the better. 

Those of us that go to sea in small boats with our Caribbean rally are part an elite group of sailors.  Be proud of your success and celebrate your arrival.  You will deserve it! 

If you are heading to Antigua, I will see you there, helped by Mindy along with many other volunteers who give their time to help us stay safe. 

Congratulations to Mindy and to all the volunteers that make Salty Dawg the amazing group that it is.