The prelude to
any trip at sea should be the Passage
Not only will having that written plan on hand ensure a
relaxed trip but the planning itself can be a fun way to anticipate the
Even for that short trip around the bay, working out before hand how
can go before you need to head for home and which is the best way to go
make the sail much more enjoyable.
Recording the Plan.
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One of the main
reasons for having a passage plan is so
that there is an easily accessible, easy to read, list of all the
relevant to your trip on board.
Quite how you record the
information is up to
you, some like to write it into their logbook, others keep a dedicated
with all the details.
Now I'm all for
compiling the information in
longhand, somehow writing the information out by hand seems to make
more of a
connection with the brain. Navigation
However, a typed list
will be easier to read
quickly, I know that I have difficulty sometimes reading my own
And there will be times
when someone else,
crew members, will need to read the plan.
best ways I
have found for
recording my passage plan is by printing it out on A4 sheet then
into a folder.
There are a variety of
available quite cheaply from any stationers.
They have plastic covers
and contain clear
plastic sleeves that your printed sheets can be slipped into, to keep
There are several
passage planning software
programs available which I'm told are quite good and which allow you
Wherever you take
make sure your
brain gets there five minutes earlier.
However, I still prefer
satisfaction I get from passage planning trips the old fashioned way.
Sometimes the passage
planning is almost as
much fun as the passage itself.
Remember the plan should
be available for
everyone on board to read, so there may be items that you as skipper
consider in your planning but which may not be appropriate to
The Passage Planning
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Your passage planning should be done before you set
Working on your passage planingn at home is a fun way
to anticipate the
trip and it will allow you the time to really think through all the
However, it should be updated with any relevant information as
While the navigational aspects of you trip will probably be
substance of the plan there are other consideration which should be
worthwhile having a checklist so
nothing gets overlooked.
Every year boaters find themselves in trouble because of
The following list of Passage Planning headings and prompts
will help you to
prepare for your trip.
You may not wish to
record your opinion of your crew but consideration should be given to
strengths, weaknesses, experience and skills. For instance
is prone to seasickness could become a liability in rough weather.
Have a record
any local radio frequencies and channels which might be needed and
radio is working.
Draw up a watch
rota before setting off so there is no confusion later.
doesn’t have to be a formal lecture just make sure they know where they
are going, how you intend to get there, where all the safety gear etc
anything which will avoid confusion and shouting later.
and drills; This
may seem obvious but a check list will hep to avoid any oversight in
excitement of casting off.
Think about what you and
the crew will need for the trip and what emergency rations including
you might need, just in case.
working out how much you will need and making sure you have sufficient
the planned trip consider if you should fill up well beforehand. If
likely to be a queue at the fuel dock on the day of departure will it
sea; Even on a
calm day the wake from a passing boat can cause anything loose to fly
dangerously, so make sure everything is stowed before casting off.
Is she really
suitable for the proposed trip, what if the conditions should
And are there any outstanding maintenance jobs which need sorting
your passage planning well in advance will allow you monitor the
This will allow you to get a feel for how the weather systems are
They are also something you should be monitoring right up until the end
So, your plan should include a list of all the weather services
the area you intend to cruise.
A Navtext receiver can be invaluable aid especially when abroad where
broadcasts may be difficult to interpret.
Among the factors to consider should be how wind speed, visibility and
temperature will influence boat speed and comfort.
forget to factor in to your plan enough time to get onboard, get
stowed and the boat ready for departure.
This is particularly important if your navigation plan has time
such as tidal gates or even just lock times to clear the harbor. It is
surprising how much time can be frittered away just getting on board.
Make note of any
restrictions which might have a bearing on the time of arrival at your
If there are restrictions such as tides or lock gates then
estimated time of arrival will need to be monitored throughout the
Particularly important when traveling overseas, make a check list of
paperwork passports etc that you will need on arrival.
and Chart Work.
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Navigation; the fun
This may seem an obvious one but having a list of the charts
you will need on
board and having them readily available will help avoid last minute
Notices to Mariners and Chart
Reviewing and updating these Noticesshould
part of your passage planning process.
The temptation when planning in advance is to create an ideal route for
While the starting point and destination can remain constant it is also
creating alternative routes to suit other possible conditions, so you
them ready in the event.
You can create and enter into your GPS
as many way-points as
However they must be clearly marked and named so there is no confusion.
And always check and recheck what you have entered even if they have
copied from a pilot book or almanac.
Make a note
You should already have factored tidal effects
into you route
However, noting the times and heights of high and low water
on you route and in an appropriate time zone will save time and
confusion if you need to alter your plans on route.
A note should be made of the
timing of any tide gate
on route so that
progress toward and eta can be constantly checked against your
Using a Tidal Stream Atlas
is an ideal way to view tidal
effects over the
range of a tide.
should include a list of buoys,
marks, hazards and
transits and in the order in which they will appear.
These visual checks will back up and verify your course steered, the
can often look completely different from the chart view.
If there is the remotest chance of arriving or departing in the dark
of marks should include their light characteristics.
As well as all the obvious hard bit to avoid it is worth making note of
other hazards such as over-falls
shallows which will be a problem should you miss time the tides.
The prudent navigator should always be prepared to modify his plans.
There could be an emergency on board or just simply that the voyage is
too long and the crew have had enough for the day.
Whatever the reason your Passage Planning should include information on alternative
The more information you have to hand the easier it will be to make the
decision to divert, especially if it is an emergency.
So make sure that you have appropriate harbor and pilotage plans.
And check if entering the harbor
has any tidal or
weather restrictions and what facilities are available.
It may be that the most appropriate course of action is to either
or carry on.
more information that
your passage planning can
accrue prior to setting off, the easier it will be to make the
decisions on route.