A First Timers Perspective: The Salty Dawg’s Caribbean Rally

Post by - Published on 05/01/24 4:00 AM

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

The SDSA is dedicated to educating sailors, fostering camaraderie, and facilitating safe offshore passages. As a volunteer-operated, not-for-profit organization, SDSA is renowned for hosting blue water rallies across the U.S. and Caribbean. Each rally offers a unique opportunity for sailors to cruise in company and benefit from the safety, camaraderie, and preparatory assistance from fellow cruisers.

In this first SDSA story, Adam Landa shares insight into his and his wife's first blue water rally with the Salty Dawgs in 2022 aboard their boat, Solmate. Since then, they have spent two seasons in the Caribbean and are planning to join the SDSA Rally to Maine this spring.

Discover the Landas' adventures and insights from their first SDSA offshore rally in their featured Dockwa article below!

A First Timers Perspective: The Salty Dawg’s Caribbean Rally
By  Adam Landa

After one season in the Bahamas, Solmate's Admiral (who is also my loving wife) decided we should spend a few seasons in the Caribbean. She promptly signed us up to sail in the 2022 Caribbean Rally with the Salty Dawgs.

Ok, we’re signed up, what’s next?

What a formidable question for a couple of Rally first timers that have never before been more than 100 miles offshore. Provisions, spares, supplies, connectivity, float plans, rigging checks, engine maintenance, insurance, securing crew, checking safety gear, making watch schedules, precooking passage meals, learning to prepare meals at sea … the thought of what we had to do, and moreover, concern for what we might miss was daunting.

We worked on getting crew first.  Even though we were early, we promptly put a Rally crew wanted listing on the SDSA site. We were inundated with responses from friendly, well qualified SDSA members. We conducted 17 one-hour interviews over three weeks and then debated the candidate’s qualifications, experience, and compatibility. In the end we had to decide based on our gut instinct. Looking back, I’d say we chose well, but that may say more about the Dawgs than our selection. 

It’s mid-August and Rally email #1 arrives with among other helpful things, a pre-passage checklist. Of course, that just gave me more to think about, not less. But like clockwork, weekly Rally emails kept  coming announcing webinars, providing important content, and generally ensuring that we have the information necessary to get ready for the planned November 1, 2022 departure. 

The apocryphal November 1 date quickly gave way to disorganized North Atlantic weather. The fleet didn’t set out in earnest until November 12. For some, it was a stressful few weeks waiting--with numerous issues mostly relating to the calendar. For Solmate it was salubrious; we reviewed our maintenance items, got to know so many of the Dawgs and had a moment to get a few last-minute Amazon deliveries. 

We set out before dawn on the 12th of November. Per Chris Parker, we hightailed it across the gulf stream. We exited the stream on schedule the next morning, ahead of the predicted weather “impulse.” The anticipation of the trip gave way to its tangible reality. We were 1700 miles from our destination, and already offshore farther than we’ve ever been before.  

The preparations we made beforehand and the decisions we made aboard (some thanks to Chris Parker and others thanks to Starlink) made for what many would call an easy passage. We had nothing to compare it to, so for us it was just a first passage. 

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer at exactly 5 pm on November 20. As the crew celebrated by downing a “Smoky Solmate” (the Admiral’s secret drink recipe) we could all sense the end of our journey nearing. We made landfall at 06:05 Atlantic Standard Time 10 days and 23 hours from the time we pulled off the dock in Hampton. Making landfall on such a journey is an emotionally charged moment; both the Admiral and I got a lump in our throats and tears in our eyes. 

We were grateful for the Rally support before and during the passage, but more so for the Salty Dawgs themselves, many of whom are now counted among our dear friends.



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