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Eight Bells: Bill Knowles

Published on May 9th, 2022

William (Bill) Phillips Knowles, 84, passed away after a long illness on April 28, 2022 in Vero Beach, FL.

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, out of his childhood grew a lifelong love of the ocean as he spent time sailing Beetle Cats and Herreshoff 12 1/2s. After graduating from Boston University with a B.S. in Business Administration, he served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force.

Beginning in 1966, Bill worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp. in both Lackawanna, NY and Johnstown, PA. He later served as director of operations at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Along with his wife, Linda, Bill spent 15 of his retirement years living on their sailboat, Sapphire, cruising from the Northeast to the British Virgin Islands each year. Together they co-founded the Salty Dawg Rally in 2011.

What began as a single rally to the Caribbean with a small group of sailors grew to become Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA), with close to one thousand boats and some five thousand sailors having 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. Anyone who ever stopped by Sapphire for a sundowner, any time of day, learned that he did not like to spoil rum with too much mixer.

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 sailors who have benefited from their example.

Bill was predeceased by his wife Linda Marie (Barrett) Knowles but is survived by children Erika (Michael) Schultz, Russell Knowles, and Alexander (Susan) Knowles; and stepchildren Jeneen Masih, Daniel Graovac, Kevin (Diane) Graovac.

Bill also leaves behind grandchildren Tyler, Alyson, and Lyndsie Schultz; Danae, Alexander II (Mikaela), Abigail, and William Knowles; Beatrice and Katherine Masih; Jack and Lucie Graovac; and one great-grandchild Maya Knowles.

He is also survived by siblings George Bourne Knowles III and Elizabeth Ladd, and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) at

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