After 5 major
passages and 2 ocean crossings we believe that we
have this part figured out.
preparations are crucial to a successful passage.
At our age we do not leave this important item to our
memory so we have several checklists to ensure that
everything gets done before we shove off.
Passages 'Go Offshore' checklist:
- One night before
going aloft check all spreader and navigation
- Go aloft and -
- replace any
bulbs that may be burned out
- check main
and mizzen masthead terminals for cracks,
corrosion, loose or missing cotter or clevis
- check the
wind instrument to assure it is secure.
- inspect all
fittings on both main and mizzen masts from
top to bottom including furler hardware,
spreaders and fittings between spreaders and
spreader light fixtures to assure they are
secure (we have had one come adrift in
mid-ocean, not nice!
- Clean and
lubricate sail tracks on both masts
- Inspect engine
looking for evidence of leaks; check alternator
and cooling pump belts and tighten if necessary.
- Check engine oil
and transmission fluid levels.
- Check fuel
filter for evidence of water or dirt; drain if
- Check all
deck-level rigging mechanical fittings for
corrosion, cracks, or looseness.
- Check all
turnbuckles for loose or missing cotter pins.
- Inspect and
- Place cockpit
- Clear deck of
- Tie down all
items such as fenders, dinghy, fuel and water
jerry cans, outboard motor and outboard fuel
- Fill water tanks
- Fill fuel tanks
- Ensure that all
halyards are clear and running freely
- Check for
fairleads on all lines and ensure that all
sheets run freely.
- Set up Monitor
windvane, if using windvane.
- Make sure that
no lines are in water before starting engine
- Tape closed
anchor rode standpipe.
- Tie down the
anchor or remove altogether (as we did when we
crossed the Pacific)
- Put cover over
- Close lifeline
- Check all sail
- Check all points
of sails for chafe and wear
- Place all loose
items in their home (see Storage section)
- Make up sea
berth (We typically use the port settee in
the main saloon as our sea berth as it opens up
into a double berth with one side against the
captain's table drop-leaf and the other side
against the hull.
- Ensure all
lockers are secure
- Install speed
- Turn on
Instruments, GPS and RADAR, if required
- Turn on
autopilot (we want it on as a contingency even
if we are going to use the windvane).
- Turn on VHF.
- Unlock the
- Get out proper
charts and ship's log.
- Ensure that
binoculars and flashlights are available
- Smear on
- Put on hat
- Put on boat
shoes - Because we have cleats and other
obstructions on deck, we always wear lace-up
boat shoes made especially to grip wet decks.
- Ensure necessary
outerwear such as foul weather gear, jackets,
sweaters, etc are available, if required.
the routine we normally follow prior to setting out on a
1 week before
- Inventory food
- Ensure that
there is enough peanut butter onboard as
this is a critical item for Bob!
- Make up an
informal menu for all meals during the passage.
I usually plan simple, easy to prepare
meals for our passages, especially for the first
few days out. We find that we have lighter
appetites when underway because we usually are
not very active. Below is a sample of how
we eat when on passages.
cereal, toast or pancakes
Sandwiches, quesadillas or soup
Macaroni/cheese, stew, chili or pre-prepared
rice/pasta package meals or fresh fish, if we
manage to catch one.
Snacks - such as fruit
or miniature candy bars for night watches
During week of
- Purchase and
stow non perishable items.
- Document food
items, quantity and storage locations. I
usually hand-write where items are stored and
the quantity and enter that information into a
database I have created. I then print out
an updated food stores inventory report to which
I refer in order to easily locate items while
1 day before departure
- Shop for and
stow perishable items
- Organize galley
lockers with food items to be used on the
passage to minimize looking for ingredients all
over the boat.
- Eat dinner
ONBOARD to avoid possible food poisoning on our
first day at sea or an adverse reaction to a
food item or water.
watch-keeping system seems to be the one to which most
cruisers have gravitated. Since we rely on
self-steering to steer the boat, we usually just have to
keep watch for ships, debris, obstructions and land,
make log entries and read while on passage. We do
not 'dog' (or rotate) our watches as we believe that our
body adjusts more easily to watches if we do the same
ones every night. One of us is ALWAYS on
Normal Watch System is the following:
||Both of us
are awake with Judi preparing breakfast and cleaning up
system with one or the other or both on watch.
Each of us tends to take a 1-2 hour nap during this time
with other one on watch.
Bob usually makes the rounds on deck inspecting items
based on our daily checklist shown below.
At some point during this
time, Judi prepares dinner and washes up.
the beautiful sunsets.
Judi gets to see the
sunrise. Because she enjoys the morning, she
usually lets Bob get a little extra sleep.
Bad Weather Watches
when we are hand-steering due to big seas or
- 2 hour watches both
day and night.
- Sometimes 1 hour
watches if it is particularly difficult to steer.
constant motion of the sea and the marine environment
makes it extremely important to check for chafe and
corrosion. . As the heading says, this should be
done every day
Chafe Detection - At
least once a day we walk around the deck to check for
chafe on the items listed:
- Anchor ties
- Pole guys and
- Jib/Yankee /Staysail
- Main halyard
- Reefing lines
- Dingy tiedown lines
- Jerry container
- Mainsail at
spreaders if we are off the wind'
- Mainsail, Jib,
- Roller furlers
- Main boom goosenecks
- Windvane control
- Mizzen halyard
- Mizzen sheet'
- Mizzen reefing lines
- Mizzen tack
- Mizzen gooseneck
Assure Items are Secure
- Liferaft Hold downs
- Outboard motor
- MOB pole
- MOB horseshoe ring
- Check oil level
- Check voltage on all
- Check standing
rigging terminals at deck
- Check all
- Check solar panel