Max­i­miz­ing ca­pac­ity and pre­vent­ing dam­age while un­der­way are im­por­tant goals when pre­par­ing a mod­est boat for cruis­ing.

Soundings - - Contents - BY PAT MUNDUS

Many of us don’t cruise in large trawlers with sta­bi­liz­ers, vast stowage lock­ers and work­shops, yet we do cruise with pro­vi­sions, spare parts, gear, tools and con­sum­ables. And when we add a dinghy (or pad­dle­board or surf­board) on deck, there is po­ten­tial for chaf­ing, shift­ing or break­age dur­ing a pas­sage. Thus, when pre­par­ing a mod­est boat for sea, it’s best to an­tic­i­pate Mur­phy’s Law: Any­thing that can go wrong will go wrong.

A su­pe­rior sea­man uses su­pe­rior in­tel­li­gence to avoid su­pe­rior cir­cum­stances, which means we can out­smart Mr. Mur­phy by imag­in­ing the worst-case sce­nar­ios. We can ad­dress any void or empty space to max­i­mize ca­pac­ity and pre­vent dam­age while un­der­way.

Pack­ing prop­erly is cer­tainly eas­ier said than done, but avoid­ing last-minute prepa­ra­tions be­fore de­par­ture is a good place to start. Make non­per­ish­able pur­chases and as­sem­ble gear early. Keep an ac­cu­rate in­ven­tory list. A good stowage plan, uni­formly ex­e­cuted by the whole crew, not only will help to pre­vent bro­ken items but also will mit­i­gate those an­noy­ing un­der­way queries, such as Where’s the *&%$#! hid­den?!

A good sup­ply of low- stretch lash­ings, stowage con­tain­ers, chaf­ing gear and pad­ding should be on hand from the start. Group all of the pro­vi­sions, spares, gear and tools into smaller stowage units; this helps to avoid hav­ing to dis­as­sem­ble a whole kit if some­thing is needed quickly.

Food is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion. Cruis­ing to places where there are no su­per­mar­kets means stock­ing up, and pack­ag­ing takes up valu­able space on board. A so­lu­tion: Send the boxes ashore be­fore you cast off. Sty­ro­foam and sin­glepur­pose plas­tic are su­per­flu­ous, and card­board draws mois­ture and pro­motes mildew. Worse yet is that cock­roach eggs can come aboard in cor­ru­gated card­board.

Stow the ev­ery­day in­gre­di­ents in gal­ley lock­ers and bins, and pack larger quan­ti­ties into space-sav­ing con­tain­ers. Re­seal­able plas­tic bags and can­is­ters with tight lids are ideal ( and re­us­able). Stow these

repack­aged quan­ti­ties in spill-proof lock­ers or bins, and se­cure them against shift­ing. And re­mem­ber to pro­vide good ven­ti­la­tion, es­pe­cially for per­ish­ables.

Bot­tles of al­co­hol — for medic­i­nal pur­poses, of course — and glass con­tain­ers also must be stowed to avoid col­lid­ing in a sea­way. Ship­ping sleeves, tube socks, tea tow­els, rolls of pa­per goods or sponges can seg­re­gate bot­tles. Boxed and car­ton-pack­aged wine and bev­er­ages in cans are al­ter­na­tives to glass bot­tles.

And if you must use canned goods as bal­last in the bilge of a small boat, be sure to re­move the com­mer­cial la­bels and note the con­tents with in­deli­ble marker on each. This pre­vents the la­bels from com­ing off in damp or wet con­di­tions — and foul­ing bilge pumps — and en­sures that you’ll be able to tell what’s in each can with­out hav­ing to open ev­ery one of them. Also, be sure to stow the cans some­where that their metal will not in­ter­fere with your au­topi­lot’s flux­gate com­pass.

Some food can stow for weeks or months, but what if you need to find a spe­cific tool in a crunch? Tools, too, should be stowed away from mag­netic and re­mote flux­gate com­passes, and they should be lashed down or con­tained by fid­dles. If empty bilge com­part­ments are dif­fi­cult to re­sist, put ev­ery­thing above the cabin sole so that it does not shift or be­come wa­ter-dam­aged.

The man- over­board gear and re­trieval sys­tem, life raft and EPIRB should never be ob­structed. Backup safety gear, such as por­ta­ble emer­gency pumps, oc­ca­sional tools and “go- to” equip­ment, should be promi­nently la­beled and stowed in an ac­ces­si­ble man­ner, not un­der a pile of sec­ondary stuff.

Ex­tra fuel should be deck-stowed in des­ig­nated con­tain­ers to avoid spillage and va­por ingress. A sim­ple board be­tween stan­chions can pro­vide a se­cure way to lash and stow these types of con­tain­ers. Find what works best for your boat’s deck cam­ber and lash­ing points. The Amer­i­can Boat & Yacht Coun­cil rec­om­mends safe LPG (liquid pe­tro­leum gas) or CNG ( com­pressed nat­u­ral gas) stowage in ap­proved lock­ers.

If a dinghy or per­sonal wa­ter­craft is stowed on deck with­out ded­i­cated chocks and pad eyes, keep it clear of nav­i­ga­tion lights or ma­neu­ver­ing sight­lines. Use a gen­er­ous amount of chaf­ing gear and low­stretch lash­ings. If your dinghy is car­ried on davits, en­sure that the falls are stopped off, the safety straps are on, and the dinghy is se­cured against swing­ing and chafe. Make sure your an­chor is se­cured for sea, too.

Never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of repet­i­tive shock- load­ing from pitch­ing, rolling, heel­ing and high winds. Be fas­tid­i­ous while un­der­way. A change in pad­ding or lash­ing ten­sion, or un­wanted con­tact, can be a clue that some­thing you’ve stowed is shift­ing. In­ves­ti­gate all clink­ing, strain­ing and chaf­ing sounds, no matter how mi­nor. It’s much eas­ier to pre­vent a stowage in­ci­dent than to fix one after some­thing runs amok.

Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Even if the weather is glo­ri­ous off­shore, con­di­tions can de­te­ri­o­rate quickly. Thought­ful plan­ning, ef­fec­tive stow­ing habits and the abil­ity to imag­ine the worst con­di­tions are your best tools in pre­par­ing for a sea pas­sage.

There is a method to prop­erly pack­ing a boat for cruis­ing.

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