SDSA Maritime Rally

The Maritime Rally is an every-other-year event, and will again be offered in Summer, 2025.  Some of the 2023 participants will be returning to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton this summer, and if you are interested in an informal "Buddy-Boat" experience with them, contact [email protected].

Departs from either Provincetown MA or Rockland, ME, mid July.

Fees & What's Included
Passage Discussion
Required Equipment
Crew Service
Rally FAQs
Volunteer to Help

If you are looking for an exciting adventure, come along with the Salty Dawgs on the Maritime Rally.  The Rally starts either from Southern New England (Cape Cod area) or from Northern New England (Rockland Maine). After a passage across the Gulf of Maine, all participants clear customs and congregate in Shelburne, NS.  Then the rally continues along the attractive sea-bound Nova Scotia coast, all the way up to beautiful Cape Breton Island and the Bras d’Or Lake.  Following the concluding activities in Baddeck, explore all of Cape Breton independently or with others.  Cape Breton offers a distinctive blend of Celtic, French Acadian, and English culture.  And remember, in Nova Scotia you have no lobster pots to contend with in the summer! 

This rally is still considered one of the SDSA "stepping stone" rallies, appropriate both for those just beginning their offshore sailing experiences or for those experienced Captains wanting to make the passage to Nova Scotia and visit Cape Breton.  As such, the requirements are simplified when compared to our longer offshore rallies to the Caribbean.

Again this year, the Maritime Rally will have two primary departure points:   Rockland ME/Penobscot Bay area (just after the conclusion of the Downeast Rally) or Provincetown MA/Cape Cod Canal area.   Regardless of point of departure, tailored pre-departure briefings and social events will take place via local meetings, remote webinars and Zoom meetings. Boats departing from Maine can expect a two-day, one night 180 nmi passage to Shelburne, Nova Scotia.   From the Cape Cod Canal area, the passage is approximately 280 Nmi, so two offshore nights will be expected, and this arm of the rally will depart a day before the Maine departure so that everyone arrives the same day in Shelburne, NS. 

In Shelburne, crew may stretch legs and explore the village, which is now maintained as a living museum of how life used to be in a typical Canadian fishing village. The journey continues on with additional stops planned for the colorful old fishing and swift schooner building village of Lunenburg (remember the Blue Nose), and the capital and largest municipality of Nova Scotia, Halifax.   While in Halifax, a reception dinner will be held at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.   The fleet then begins another passage, including one overnight sail, arriving in St. Peter's and passing through the St. Peters Canal on the following day.  St. Peter's is the southern entrance to Lake Bras d'Or, where a rousing reception and briefing is planned at the St Peter’s Marina.  Then on to a three day mini-cruise up to Baddeck.   The Lakes and surroundings present an unforgettable mix of history, dramatic coastal scenery, music, and fun. In Baddeck, The Alexander Graham Bell Museum is fascinating.  And the north portion of Cape Breton offers the spectacular 298-kilometer-long Cabot Trail, a winding mix of roadway, paths, stairs, and stunning beauty that takes you from unreal ocean vistas to quaint fishing villages.  Self guided or group tours will be available.  

Summer is the perfect time to explore and enjoy all that Cape Breton has to offer, and even though the Baddeck arrival marks the official endpoint of the rally, participants are encouraged to explore an unlimited number of beautiful and isolated anchorages and harbors of the Bras d'Or Lake, before starting the return voyage.  Bras d'Or Lake is an inland sea-- "A basin ringed by indigo hills laced with marble.  Islands within a sea inside an island."  The south end of the lake is connected to the North Atlantic by the Strait of Canso by means of a lock canal completed in 1869—the St. Peters Canal. at the southern tip of the island. In addition, two channels connect the northern Lake to the Atlantic, serving as gateways to the Laurentian Channel and Gulf of St. Lawrence.  Covering an area of approximately 424 sq mi, Bras d'Or Lake measures roughly 62 mi in length and 31 mi width. Although there is some deep water, (the maximum depth is 942 ft in the St. Andrews Channel), there are innumerable shallow water anchorages.  Surrounded almost entirely by high hills and low mountains, the lake is dominated by the Washabuck Peninsula in the center-west, Boularderie Island in the northeast, and a large peninsula extending from the center-east dominated by the Boisdale Hills. The Washabuck Peninsula and Boisdale Hills divide the lake into northern and southern basins, linked by the Barra Strait.  The most adventurous may even wish to explore further north and east, to Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French archipelago south of Newfoundland, or Newfoundland itself.  Wherever you choose to explore, participants are advised to plan wisely for their return trips south, before the early autumn conditions begin.

The Rally includes weather routing by The Marine Weather Center, position tracking by PredictWind, and an extensive level of coordination and support during the offshore passage.  VHF radio communications equipment is required, and reliable radar and AIS is highly encouraged, since foggy conditions can be the norm. Offshore communications equipment are not required, but are highly encouraged, especially if you have plans to participate in the Caribbean Rally or other offshore adventures in the future.  While offshore, vessels may travel in company, maintaining VHF radio contact where possible.  Salty Dawg Shoreside Coordinators are accessible through Sat phone, cell phone when in range, and email/texts (if the boat is so equipped).  

Sailing CBI from Cape Breton Island is partnering with the SDSA to bring the hospitality and Maritime Magic of Nova Scotia to our rally participants.  While in Lake Bras D’Or, there are many good marine services to serve you.  St. Peters Marina is one of the largest marinas in the Bras d'Or and has full boating services. Baddeck is home to two marinas, two full service boatyards and the Bras d'Or Yacht Club.

Visit The Ultimate Cruising Destination: The Bras d'Or Lakes and download a free Cruising Guide.