Are you ready to sail off­shore?

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

Choos­ing the boat

Size Wa­ter­line length is a poor in­dic­tor of suitabil­ity for blue­wa­ter sail­ing in terms of how well the boat will sail, but spend­ing weeks, per­haps months, on board means it’s im­por­tant to de­ter­mine how much space you and your crew ac­tu­ally need. Com­fort vs Speed Fast and light de­signs can cap­i­talise much better on light airs and run away from ap­proach­ing foul weather more eas­ily, but if you do get caught, a heav­ier-built yacht is likely to have a much more com­fort­able mo­tion in a heavy seast­ate. do you need a dif­fer­ent boat? While sailors may as­pire to a new blue­wa­ter cruiser, most mod­ern yachts are ca­pa­ble of sail­ing off­shore. Learn­ing how your yacht per­forms in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions over time will help you plan a long pas­sage that builds in con­sid­er­a­tion of what she is ca­pa­ble of.

Equipping the boat

power If you’re un­der sail, you are re­liant on your bat­ter­ies, so cal­cu­late the equa­tion of bat­tery ca­pac­ity, power con­sump­tion and gen­er­a­tion. How much power do you re­al­is­ti­cally draw with all your usual sys­tems run­ning? Add up what ev­ery­thing draws. Then fac­tor in what your so­lar pan­els, wind gen­er­a­tor or al­ter­na­tor can pro­vide in 24 hours. Look for ways to re­duce con­sump­tion be­fore adding ca­pac­ity or over-com­pli­ca­tion. Self Steer­ing Be­ing able to leave the helm is es­sen­tial on any long pas­sage un­less you have at least three crew. Me­chan­i­cal sys­tems have proven them­selves to be the go-to so­lu­tion for boats with less bat­tery ca­pac­ity and, in fact, cope in con­di­tions many elec­tronic au­topi­lots can­not han­dle. A day spent tun­ing self-steer­ing gear and get­ting used to it be­fore set­ting off on a blue­wa­ter pas­sage will be time very well spent. Safety equip­ment All the usual safety equip­ment needs to be car­ried on a small yacht, but stowage is of­ten more of a chal­lenge; en­sure you are not tempted to stash more bulky safety equip­ment where it would be hard to reach in an emer­gency. weight Ex­tra weight means more to stow, a slower boat and heav­ier loads on the rig. Small boat sailors can quickly find their yachts laden with too much and per­for­mance will rapidly di­min­ish if over­loaded. Be ruth­less on weight and keep heav­ier kit at the bot­tom of the boat and along the cen­ter­line.

Sail­ing the boat

Crew Small boat sailors tend to be re­stricted in how many crew they can com­fort­ably take with them. Con­sider care­fully how you will man­age watch sys­tems and liv­ing to­gether aboard. Even on a small yacht, a team of three can usu­ally ro­tate through a watch sys­tem quite com­fort­ably; more can be a chal­lenge. heavy weather Strat­egy Small boat sailors, par­tic­u­larly those in slower yachts, must con­sider care­fully their heavy weather strat­egy. How quickly can you put dis­tance be­tween you and foul weather? What is your setup for rid­ing it out if you do get caught? fuel What is your pol­icy on mo­tor­ing and how much fuel will you carry? Are you de­pen­dent on the en­gine for bat­tery charg­ing? Does mo­tor­ing form part of your heavy weather strat­egy? If so, what will you keep in re­serve as an ab­so­lute min­i­mum to get ahead of a dan­ger­ous front? food Fridge and freezer meals, or tins and pasta? Even the most ef­fi­cient fridge or freezer will have a sig­nif­i­cant drain on your bat­tery bank on a small yacht. Can you do with­out it com­pletely? Some fresh goods last a long time, and fish can pro­vide va­ri­ety, but you may not want to forgo a half­way steak.

If you are thor­oughly pre­pared, your off­shore cruise will be much more en­joy­able

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