People new to cruising often ask, “How do you prepare for a passage?” One of the key ingredients to having fun and successful sailing passages, is to plan ahead. The more planning and preparation you do, the more enjoyable your passages will be. This blog is designed for those new to cruising and will go in to some detail on how to properly prepare for a passage. Let’s get started by first making sure that you understand the different categories of passage preparation:
Food provisioning – Plan out your meals prior to leaving on your passage. Make sure to include snacks and plenty of liquids. Hot drinks at night time will always be appreciated by the crew. Pre-cook and vacuum seal your meals. These can then be easily heated by putting in boiling or hot water. Put water and cold drinks in a separate cooler for easy access.
Weather preparation – There are many sources of weather information and it is extremely important to check different sources. Weather is extremely unpredictable and different sources can report very different predictions. We currently use:WindyTy, SailFlow & NOAA.
Course and destination determination – It is not only important to know where you are going but how you are going to get there. Weather preparation will tie very closely to your course and to your destination. Make sure to consider alternate courses. Be flexible.
Boat preparation – This involves making sure items such as the rigging, shrouds are checked, lines tested, sails inspected, anchor chains looked over and electrical systems tested.
Spare parts – Planning what spare parts and tools you will bring.
Determining watch schedules – Depending on how many people onboard, it is important to plan ahead who will be at the helm and when. Evaluate and utilize the experience of your crew in your planning.
Determining fuel and water requirements – Prior to leaving on a passage you should know your fuel consumption rate under ideal and non-ideal conditions. The crew should also understand how much water is held in your boat’s tanks. Most important keep your crew hydrated.
Determining what clothes you will need (and how to make them easily accessible)– Conditions on a passage can change quickly so you need to be able to access different types of clothing quickly.
Create a float plan – Make sure so others know where you are going, when you should get there, and how to determine you are in trouble. Communication is key. We use the DeLorme InReach.
Safety at Sea – During the preparation period ensure that everything you do provides you and your crew the safest passage possible. (www.ussailing.blog)