Passage Preparation

IMG_3234[1]After two glorious weeks in Port de Soller Mallorca, we set off for our new anchorage.  An email from friend and fellow sailer from landlocked Wharfedale, has prompted me to jot down a little of what we do in preparation for a trip out.

A couple of days beforehand we look at various weather forecasts.  (Although we are looking at the forecast everyday even if we are parked up or at anchor) They all seem to be slightly different so we kind of judge the average of them all, particularly in terms of wind speeds and direction.

Using this prediction, we can access how easy a sail may be to where we want to head.

We would rather not beat into the wind if possible, preferring to wait until the wind is blowing the right way!  Also, I would prefer that the winds are manageable in strength, so up to 20kn being about my limit in terms of comfort zone.  Often, we have found that if the predicted wind speed is 20kn, once you are out there it is usually much more!!!   If it’s going to be blowing a hoodie, then we’d rather stay in port!

So, having settled on a destination which would be within range, say 25 – 50nm, we plot a course on the open CPN navigation software; putting in various way points and checking the entire route in close up for any potential hazards.

We look at the destination port in the pilot guide and take a note of the course to follow for safe entrance.    Checking the things to look out for on the headland and mouth of the harbour.  We have the Navionics App ready on the phone so we can see the plan of the marina.

In addition, we check tides and currents, if necessary, and generally make a note of Barometer readings the previous day and evening.

I always like to have a plan B just in case the wind changes and the original destination becomes more difficult to enter.  Sometimes we have to have a plan C as well!  I write down this plan in RYA fashion with a little drawing of the destination port, etc.

I open up a new ships log on the computer and fill in as much detail as I can about the weather, (from forecasts and observations) barometer, temperature, humidity, provisioning plan, etc.

Once that stuff is complete really it’s practical preparations of the boat and crew.  A visit to the shower block ashore, last minute provisioning, back to the boat, shore shoes sprayed with cockroach killer so we don’t bring the nasty little critters’ eggs aboard inadvertently. Boat shoes on, breakfast, tidy up, teeth.

Life jackets are stowed on deck in a locker, MOB alarms are worn, shoes are on feet as there have been injuries when sailing in bare feet, factor 30 (soon to be 50) sun cream is applied, jackets are to hand, binoculars on deck and water bottles filled.

We have already done the provisioning, filled the water and diesel tanks.

After our experience with the sail drive and head gasket we now complete a daily engine check (WOBBLE) and also one once we are underway.

Below decks we stow all moveable items in lockers or on deep shelves, etc, and shut all doors or pin them back.  We close and lock all hatches and lock off the heads, after we had a flooded forward head one day.

Ian switches all the instruments on; AIS which transmit our position, speed, heading and also receives the same information about other vessels in the area; VHF is tuned to Channel 16; wind, depth, speed, navigation and autopilot instruments are activated. The course is activated on Open CPN and the first waypoint is sent to the navigation instruments at the helm.  The MOB alarm is switched on.

Then we come on deck and put the engine on so it can be warming up.

We take sail covers off, attach the main halyard and check that everything we’ve moved whilst in port is back in the right place.  For example, we always put the main halyard on something so that it doesn’t clank the mast all night.  We also attach one of the preventers on the boom to the breast cleat so that the boom doesn’t squeak as the boat rocks.

Next, we stow the fenders down stairs (until we find a locker space on deck).

Now, it’s time to lift up the anchors.  When in Soller, we deployed a kedge anchor off the stern  in addition to the main anchor because we wanted to be kept facing into the swell which comes into the bay.  Also, other boats around us were moored up to two mooring buoys so we didn’t have the space to swing at anchor.  (It would have been uncomfortable in any case!)  Once the kedge anchor is recovered and stowed, we attach and hoist the dinghy and finally, lift and fix the main anchor.   Then the anchor ball comes down and the motoring cone goes back up.

Then we motor out of the port giving a jaunty wave to new friends who we are sure to meet up with again soon.

We check that the course has been sent up to the console at the helm and I make the second entry in my shop’s log noting the time of departure.

When possible I try to make an entry in the log every time we change the sails, or tack or when I remember, or when I am below decks.

So, there you go, Nick Chown, all recorded for you.  We don’t have paper charts for this area which is a shame, because I prefer to use them and see the whole route in detail.  It’s also good to be able to plot your positions on it regularly as a back up to electronic stuff.

From starting to lift anchors, etc it was at least 45 minutes ’til we motored out of the bay.  It would have been longer but luckily the dinghy winch decided that it would continue to work just long enough to pull up the dinghy on to the davits after a teasing halt to its smooth action. Another thing to add to the repair list that grows on a daily basis!

As for parking…that’s a whole other story!!!

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Well Deserved Coffee Time

6 thoughts on “Passage Preparation”

  1. Ooo where are you off to? Hope you got there safe and sound! (No paper charts?!!!! I know what to buy you for Christmas!!) Hope alls still fab and see you soon!

  2. Never thought about cockroaches, good tip!! Where is the next port of call? I bet it is all hotting up with tourists now and you old sea dogs are going to have some interesting tales to tell with all the novices floating around you! Tell Ian to keep his cool!! Take care both of you x

  3. Thanks Sarah,
    You’re doing a great job of justifying the RYA guidance. Really interesting stuff. Hopefully we’ll be seeing you next week in Puerto de Pollenca. Have fun. X

  4. It is nice reading your blog as you learn something every time. Enjoy your trip. Best wishes, Paul

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