PREPARING FOR A LONG OFFSHORE PASSAGE
The heat is back on again with boat preparations as in two months’ time we’ll take part in the Salty Dawg Rally, sailing 1,400 miles in roughly 10 days from Hampton in Virginia (USA) direct to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
Thankfully, this time we know what to expect as in January, when we took our boat across the Atlantic from Tenerife to Barbados, we had no idea exactly how much advance work getting the boat ready for an offshore passage would entail.
One of the most important factors to get sorted in advance is crew. While we are very happy to do a short offshore trip ourselves; the longer the trip, the more strain it puts on us. So an extra pair or two of hands to share the watches, cooking, fishing and voyage is perfect. Finding like-minded people who are able to take a chunk of time away from their busy lives to join us on an offshore passage is always a challenge, but we’ve been very lucky so far to find some good friends who have relished the adventure.
Our preparations to cross the Atlantic started three months beforehand. At the time, the ‘to do’ list ran into three pages and each time we crossed something off, we’d be adding something else on. For our 10-day trip from the USA to BVI, we’ve managed to contain this list to just two pages and it is at least decreasing daily as we work our way fastidiously through jobs such us buying netting and astro-turf to ensure no 1 crew member, Miss Molly, is equally happy on the boat offshore.
Safety checks across the boat are paramount. Before we leave the dock, we will ensure all our lines are chafe-free, the sails are in optimum condition and checks and servicing are carried out on the fridge, freezer, EPIRB, watermaker, generator, fire extinguishers and life-jackets, engines, just to name a few.
Practical advice we learned from crossing the Atlantic included to have a laminated list of everything we need to take with us into the life raft in an ‘abandon ship’ situation. This list is attached to the grab bag as a helping tool, as if circumstances necessitate you have to abandon the yacht, it’s highly likely that skipper and crew will not be thinking clearly, so a visual reminder to pick up the handheld VHF, EPIRB, InReach, mobile phones etc… along with the grab bag that already contains things like high energy bars, fishing kit, multi-tools as well as the crews’ passports and other more frivolous items like playing cards, toothpaste and loo roll. We also have a large medical kit that would come with us and a floating 30-litre water container.
Then there’s the food provisioning. Bread doesn’t last long, so for crossing the Atlantic, we taught ourselves how to make no-mess, bread in a bag. We’ve since honed these skills to include making Banana Bread and Breakfast Muffins; and I can honestly say to wake up to freshly made bread and muffins, especially at sea, is an absolute delight.
For the rougher days when we don’t want to be in the galley for too long, pre-making and freezing a range of meals is important and our offshore freezer menu includes moussaka, lasagne, beef bourguignon, Cornish pasties and pork stroganoff. To help keep fruit and vegetables fresh, we hang up a net bag in our outside seating area to help them last longer.
Not forgetting the night-watch goodie bag! It’s amazing how being on watch in the dark gives you the munchies. So an abundance of muesli bars, chocolates and crisps will be purchased and divided out each evening.
Skipper also has a selection of lures in production as we hope to be self-sufficient on the fishing stakes catching tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi to enjoy for lunches and dinners too.
Communications offshore are a great talking point. We have gone down the satellite phone route, whereas some friends have opted for SSB Radio. Either way the ability to speak to shore-based services and use e-mail while offshore is essential. With voice communication, we can speak to a Dr, which could save a life and with e-mail we can update loved ones and access the latest weather forecasts.
Not to mention the fact that we will do a daily post on our Facebook page so that friends, family and followers can keep up-to-date of our antics at sea.
In addition, we have an InReach device which allows accurate tracking of the vessel and two-way communication via text messaging for a minimal monthly cost. To track us anytime, click on the following link: https://share.garmin.com/twodrifters; there’s also a ‘Boat Location’ tab on our www.facebook.com/TwoDriftersTravel page, which can be used to see our whereabouts. For anyone going offshore we would strongly recommend this brilliant device. https://explore.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/
And finally…a long offshore passage with crew means the return of Skipper Says! Those who followed our adventures crossing the Atlantic will remember Skipper dished out amusing daily tasks and special days to celebrate, which was just a bit of fun for the crew to look forward to. Could this be the return of Pancake Day, the hour-back-party-that-never-was and pirates-in-pink-pants? Tune in from 2 November when we leave on the Salty Dawg Rally to find out!
© Two Drifters Travel