10 Things to Consider When Planning An Extended Cruise

10 Things to Consider When Planning an Extended Cruise

When enjoying an extended cruise, you’ll want to be sure that you are prepared for any worst case scenarios.  Here are some things that you’ll want to double check before heading out.

1)   Engine Maintenance.

Check all of the fluid levels on your engine. You don’t want to run into an issue when you are far from shore. Checking levels regularly is a good habit to get into.

2)   Check Sails for Signs of Wear or Damage.

Inspect your sails carefully before departing. If you notice wear on specific parts of the sails, it may be rubbing against a part of the boat. Use rigging tape to reduce the friction on the parts of the boat that are hitting the sail as a way to protect the sail.

3)   Speaking of Rigs, Check the Condition and Tension of your Shrouds and Stays.

The last thing that you want to have happen is for your boat to lose the rig. Be sure that there is no fraying and that there is proper tension.

4)   Check the Bilge and All Inlets and SeaCocks for Leaks.

Even a slow leak can mean big trouble on longer sails and in rougher waters.

5)   Perform Radio Check.

Be sure that your radio is working correctly and can send and receive messages. It isn’t a bad idea to have a secondary hand-held incase your primary radio fails in the event of an emergency.

6)   Check and Prepare for the Weather.

This may sound obvious, but weather conditions can change (especially if you are on the great lakes). If you have a barometer check for quick drops in pressure (which usually indicates a storm may be approaching). Be prepared for bad weather. Always bring clothes for bad weather – if you are improperly dressed during a storm, you could potentially suffer from hypothermia.

7)   Have Emergency Equipment On-Board.

When planning for a cruise, always think about the worst case scenario. We once had to take apart our engine while underway, and having the manual and equipment on-board allowed us to take the engine apart, and fix it. Also consider a boat-plug incase of seacock failure or other problems.

8)   For Extended Cruising, File a Float Plan.

A float plan is a form that can be downloaded from the US Coastguard website, that details the plans of your cruise. A float plan is then filed with the Coastguard or your marina. As you check-in to different ports or return to your home port, you’ll check in based on your float plan. This is a way to let the Coastguard know where you are. If you fail to check in after a set amount of time, the coastguard will know that there may be a problem. Don’t forget to check-in, or the coastguard may deploy resources to look for you.

9)   Provision Properly – It is Better to Have Too Much vs. Not Enough.

Provisioning can be tricky, but with bad weather, weak winds or other issues, you may find yourself out for longer than expected. Bring lots of provisions, and especially make sure that you have lots of hydration. And rum.

10) Double-check Safety Equipment (and make sure that everyone knows where it is).

Be sure to check on your fire extinguisher, flares, signaling tools (mirrors, dye-packs, horns, etc) and confirm that you have the right number of floatation devices. Remember that inflatables only count if they are worn.

What would you add? What do you do to prepare for longer cruisers? Share in the comments!