Seas, Sails, and Stories: The Maritime Rally to Nova Scotia

Post by - Published on 06/26/24 4:00 AM

Our team at Dockwa is stoked to be collaborating with the Salty Dawgs Sailing Association (SDSA) to share monthly cruising tales in The Running Fix Newsletter! 

Every other year the Salty Dawgs host the very exciting "Maritime Rally" to Nova Scotia. The Rally begins 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.  
SDSA's next Maritime Rally in 2025 is 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. This story, highlights some wonderful moments from the last rally to Nova Scotia - read on for inspo towards your next cruise!

Highlights of the Maritime Rally to Nova Scotia
By  Susan Tananbaum of S/V Apres Ski

Eighteen boats joined the Maritime Rally this summer, sailing from either Rockland, ME or Provincetown, MA, and rendezvousing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia in mid-July.  Sailors from the Down East and Maritime Rallies who gathered in Rockland met for a weather presentation by Chris Parker and a pizza dinner.  Thanks to Mike and Ronna Benjamin of Exodus for your awesome organizing and warm welcome to the Rally.  Rally Dawgs began exchanging useful information as soon as Mike set up the What’s App group.   We shared information about Maine’s pesky and sometimes toggled lobster pots, weather resources, the water temperatures around Cape Sable (chilly – some recorded temps as low as 42 degrees with fog), and that the entrance to Shelburne Harbour was easy, but there were fish pens to avoid.  Along the way, there were great wildlife sightings, including a breaching whale, a leatherback turtle, and bald eagles.

“Our trip to Nova Scotia,” noted Fiona Baker of Carioca, “was seriously blighted by horrendous weather from the start:  we motored from Cape Cod under grey skies, no wind, rain, and sporadic fog for 54 hrs and arrived in Shelburne in the rain. Two rainy days later we experienced 3 months of rainfall in one day, causing a province-wide state of emergency.  Despite the weather however, we loved the remote, wild beauty, met some great people (both locals and rally sailors), and experienced somewhere totally different from any other we’d sailed in (or indeed been to), which was what drew us to the Maritime Rally in the first place …. and had a lot of fun on the way. As we continued into the Bras D’Or Lakes the weather did improve and we had some glorious sunny days in that very beautiful inland sea.”

When we arrived the members of Shelburne Yacht Club prepared a delicious fish dinner, and we had a great chart talk by Brad Wilson.   Upon arrival in Lunenburg we entertained one another with limericks!  The welcoming committees in St Peter's and Baddeck were amazing: friendly and helpful.  The sailing in the Bras d'Or Lake was lovely - and fog-free!  The Dawgs were enthusiastic about the beauty of the coast and the many harbors we all enjoyed.

View withclouds

Highlights of the 2022 SDSA Maritime Rally:
  • Mary and Joe of Adiona and Fiona and Chris of Carioca found a warm welcome when invited to join the Mi’kmaq annual gathering and The Procession of St Anne (their patron saint) on Chapel Island in the Bras D’Or. 
  • Joe, Susan, and the kids and grandkids of Après Ski thought Maskell Harbour was one of the most beautiful anchorages they’d ever seen! 
  • Many of the boats gathered in Baddeck – a lovely town with the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  
  • Paul Jamieson of Sailing CBI planned some wonderful activities for our group and hosted a fabulous “kitchen party” with amazing food and live music! 
  • Several of the Dawgs had a memorable day traveling along the Cabot Trail - including one of Cape Breton's ski areas!


Joe and Mary of Adiona summed up the spirit of the Rally.  “We loved being part of this rally. The first high point was sailing into Shelburne, fog lifting, being tired but happy to be there. At each milestone stop we had the same feeling particularly at Lunenburg and St. Peter’s. That first night in St. Peter’s we felt so welcomed by Gerry Gibson of St Peter's Marina and the music celebrating Cape Breton. The kitchen party was definitely a high point! We’ve had some beautiful sails and swims within the lake here. Wildlife: Today, an eagle soared over our heads as we kayaked on the Washabuck River. We spotted a puffin, a whale, a seal, and a new to us bird - northern gannets. Getting to know the other sailors in the group has been wonderful, feeling the beginnings of friendships grow as the rally has gone on. And the people of Nova Scotia! So kind and helpful! We ate delicious seafood, laughed a lot, danced some but not enough, and feasted our eyes on beautiful scenery, sunsets, and sunrises. We will be a bit sad to turn towards home.”


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