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[Preparations] [ Provisioning] [Watches] [Daily Checklist] [Weekly Checklist]
After 5 major passages and 2 ocean crossings we believe that we have this part figured out.


Good preparations are crucial to a successful passage.  At our age we do not leave this important item to our memory so we have several checklists to ensure that everything gets done before we shove off.

Long Passages 'Go Offshore' checklist:

  • One night before going aloft check all spreader and navigation lights.
  • Go aloft and -
    • replace any bulbs that may be burned out
    • check main and mizzen masthead terminals for cracks, corrosion, loose or missing cotter or clevis pins
    • check the wind instrument to assure it is secure.
    • inspect all fittings on both main and mizzen masts from top to bottom including furler hardware, spreaders and fittings between spreaders and masts.
    • check spreader light fixtures to assure they are secure (we have had one come adrift in mid-ocean, not nice!
    • Clean and lubricate sail tracks on both masts
  • Inspect engine looking for evidence of leaks; check alternator and cooling pump belts and tighten if necessary.
  • Check engine oil and transmission fluid levels.
  • Check fuel filter for evidence of water or dirt; drain if necessary.
Above Decks
  • Check all deck-level rigging mechanical fittings for corrosion, cracks, or looseness.
  • Check all turnbuckles for loose or missing cotter pins.
  • Inspect and install jacklines
  • Place cockpit cushions below.
  • Clear deck of loose items.
  • Tie down all items such as fenders, dinghy, fuel and water jerry cans, outboard motor and outboard fuel container
  • Fill water tanks
  • Fill fuel tanks
  • Ensure that all halyards are clear and running freely
  • Check for fairleads on all lines and ensure that all sheets run freely.
  • Set up Monitor windvane, if using windvane.
  • Make sure that no lines are in water before starting engine
  • Tape closed anchor rode standpipe.
  • Tie down the anchor or remove altogether (as we did when we crossed the Pacific)
  • Put cover over anchor windlass
  • Close lifeline gates.
  • Check all sail slides
  • Check all points of sails for chafe and wear
Below Decks:

  • Place all loose items in their home (see Storage section)
  • Make up sea berth  (We typically use the port settee in the main saloon as our sea berth as it opens up into a double berth with one side against the captain's table drop-leaf and the other side against the hull.
  • Ensure all lockers are secure
  • Install speed instrument paddle
  • Turn on Instruments, GPS and RADAR, if required
  • Turn on autopilot (we want it on as a contingency even if we are going to use the windvane).
  • Turn on VHF.
  • Unlock the gimbaled stove.
  • Get out proper charts and ship's log.
  • Ensure that binoculars and flashlights are available
Crew Preparations


  • Smear on sunscreen
  • Put on hat
  • Put on boat shoes - Because we have cleats and other obstructions on deck, we always wear lace-up boat shoes made especially to grip wet decks.
  • Ensure necessary outerwear such as foul weather gear, jackets, sweaters, etc are available, if required.


This is the routine we normally follow prior to setting out on a major passage.

1 week  before departure
  • Inventory food stores
  • Ensure that there is enough peanut butter onboard as this is a critical item for Bob!
  • Make up an informal menu for all meals during the passage.  I usually plan simple,  easy to prepare meals for our passages, especially for the first few days out.  We find that we have lighter appetites when underway because we usually are not very active.  Below is a sample of how we eat when on passages.

    Breakfast - cereal, toast or pancakes
    Lunch      - Sandwiches, quesadillas or soup
    Dinner     - Macaroni/cheese, stew, chili or pre-prepared rice/pasta package meals or fresh fish, if we manage to catch one.
    Snacks    - such as fruit or miniature candy bars for night watches

During week of departure
  • Purchase and stow non perishable items.
  • Document food items, quantity and storage locations.  I usually hand-write where items are stored and the quantity and enter that information into a database I have created.  I then print out an updated food stores inventory report to which I refer in order to easily locate items while underway
1 day before departure
  • Shop for and stow perishable items
  • Organize galley lockers with food items to be used on the passage to minimize looking for ingredients all over the boat.
  • Eat dinner ONBOARD to avoid possible food poisoning on our first day at sea or an adverse reaction to a food item or water.


Our watch-keeping system seems to be the one to which most cruisers have gravitated.  Since we rely on self-steering to steer the boat, we usually just have to keep watch for ships, debris, obstructions and land, make log entries and read while on passage.  We do not 'dog' (or rotate) our watches as we believe that our body adjusts more easily to watches if we do the same ones every night.  One of us is ALWAYS on watch.

Our Normal  Watch System is the following:

Day Watches
  • 0800 - 1000
Both of us are awake with Judi preparing breakfast and cleaning up the dishes.
  • 1000 - 1700
Loose watch system with one or the other or both on watch.  Each of us tends to take a 1-2 hour nap during this time with other one on watch.
Bob usually makes the rounds on deck inspecting items based on our daily checklist shown below.
  • 1700 - 1900
At some point during this time, Judi prepares dinner and washes up.
Night Watches
  • 1900 - 2200
Bob enjoys the beautiful sunsets.
  • 2200 - 0100
  • 0100 - 0400
  • 0400 - 0800
Judi gets to see the sunrise.  Because she enjoys the morning, she usually lets Bob get a little extra sleep.
Bad Weather Watches

Usually done when we are hand-steering due to big seas or self-steering problems.

  • 2 hour watches both day and night.
  • Sometimes 1 hour watches if it is particularly difficult to steer.

Daily Offshore Checklist

The constant motion of the sea and the marine environment makes it extremely important to check for chafe and corrosion. .  As the heading says, this should be done every day

Chafe Detection - At least once a day we walk around the deck to check for chafe on the items listed:
  • Anchor ties
  • Pole guys and control lines
  • Jib/Yankee /Staysail sheets
  • Main halyard
  • Mainsheet
  • Reefing lines
  • Dingy tiedown lines
  • Jerry container tiedown lines
  • Mainsail at spreaders if we are off the wind'
  • Mainsail, Jib, Staysail tacks
  • Roller furlers
  • Main boom goosenecks
  • Windvane control lines
  • Mizzen halyard
  • Mizzen sheet'
  • Mizzen reefing lines
  • Mizzen tack
  • Mizzen gooseneck
Assure Items are Secure
  • Liferaft Hold downs
  • Fenderboard
  • Outboard motor
  • MOB pole
  • MOB horseshoe ring
  • Lifesling
  • Check oil level
  • Check voltage on all batteries

Weekly Offshore Checklist

  • Check standing rigging terminals at deck
  • Check all turnbuckles
  • Check solar panel attachments

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