Before making any passage, making a good passage planning is one of the most essential parts of sailing.
What do you need?
First of all, you need charts. You can use paper charts or electronic charts like Navionics. Both of them are safe and easy to use. Recently most sailors are planning their passages from Navionics like electronic charts as they include more information than paper charts (information about the marinas, VHF channels, up-to-date warning signees, user reviews, etc). But making your plan on the paper charts, believe me, helps you to understand exactly where are you going and what distance you will take. It is like planning your trip via paper maps or GPS systems in your car. One way you know by heart where to go, the other is highly electronic dependent.
You need pen and paper, also having cruising guides for the related area or pilot book and almanac. This helps you to how to approach the marinas, tides, important VHF channels, currents, wind, traffic information. These days you can use Navily as your cruising guide (it is cruising guide books replacement app)
First, you plan your navigation in four parts. Leaving, crossing, going in, and mooring/docking.
Leaving stage, you plan how to leave from the marina, through the channels, locks, bays, bridges or TSS’s wherever you start with. This whole process needs to be plan until you are clear. Which part to be done under sail and which part to be on motor. Getting out can be easy depends on the area or highly complicated. Then you highlight the across part and courses. Then you start planning how to go in to the new bay or marina (area) then final how to moor or anchor.
- In the and your navigational plan should be
- Leaving the Marina
- 60deg. 5 miles
- 120 deg 2 miles to the bridge
- Bridge (opening times)
- After bridge 210 deg 5 miles (follow the channel)
- After the channel (across part)
- 280 deg 30 miles
- 320 deg 10 miles (in)
- Then mooring, anchoring, if marina reservation, berth number etc.
You check basic things such as weather, wind force, and wind direction, tides (if important), and currents. Based on this you decide the time of leaving and arrival. You can use weather apps like windy, predict wind together with the tidal atlas or equivalent tides app for the local area. If you are sailing for more than few days, maybe smart to find a weather window that allows you to go to your destination the fastest or in the most comfortable way.
This part you make sure you have everything you need. There are plenty of checklists on the internet before cruising. Having things fixed before departure is highly important. You don’t want the see you only have 10 liters of water left in your freshwater tanks for a week sailing.
Checking your boat: Try to follow a check list. Major items like bilge, engine, engine oil, sails, running/standing rigging so on.
Crew and experience
Food, water and other supplies
Safety equipment, fuel and maintenance of the boat
Paper work (if you are crossing to another country)
Depends on the distance, shift plan for the crew during the night.
No matter how solid is your plan, always handy to have alternative plans (plan b and plan c). For example, if you are following a coast, on your waymark a few places in between where you can go and spend the day in case something goes wrong, your boat needs a repair or somebody get sick.
Also informing coast guard, people in the marina never hurts. You can roughly tell them what is your plan and when do you expect to be where.
Always do the safety briefing on board for the crew who doesn’t know where the safety equipment is located. That will take big stress out.
Start small, build experience, try and fail. Sailing is progress, not perfection.
Fair winds and following seas.