Before you go
A few things even before you start to get ready:
- Plan your trip. I use Navionics on my phone and spend some time creating a new route to get some estimates on distance and approximate time. I can do this several weeks in advance from home.
- Check the weather! I use WindFinder Pro on my phone with the Superforecast outside of Cobourg. But it’s not always that accurate. I’ve found Environment Canada to be much more reliable. I also like their Marine Forecast for Lake Ontario.
- Boat condition and supplied. Double check the boat to ensure everything is working as expected and you have supplies needed for the trip. Safety gear, food, water, clothes, sunscreen, etc. Check levels of water and holding tanks.
Prep your guests
If you have guests on board, a few quick things to cover before you are out on the water and distracted.
- Safety – lifejackets, where it’s safe to sit, where it’s not safe and emphasize danger of the boom and lines in the cockpit. What to do if they or someone else goes overboard.
- Health – Sunscreen, water and what to do if they feel sea sick.
- Toilet – think back to the first time you saw a marine head. For me it was the strangest contraption and the owner made it sound like any deviation from the proper operation would make it explode. I understand this now. Emphasize this same fear into your guests.
Getting boat ready
- Remove sail cover
- Consider attaching main halyard
- Clean up and lay out all needed sail lines.
- Remove any part of bimini and dodger that may get in the way
- Remove and secure gear on deck and railings, i.e. BBQ and anchor.
- Close forward hatches
- Disconnect shore power and set batteries to start the engine (I set to just use battery 1)
- Power up VHF radio and navigation gear
- Open engine thru hull
- Start engine
- Remove docking lines and have one or two people handling the boat from the dock
- Scan the marina for movement
- Navigate out of the marina, secure dock lines and fenders.
- Have a fantastic day on the water.
A few things we have gotten wrong
Leaving a hatch open. I love the fresh air coming in through the front of the boat but that is heavily outweighed by the fact that the genoa and genoa sheets love to catch the hatches when they are open. I was fortunate it was a light breeze otherwise it may have damaged or pulled it right off.
Not scanning the marina for movement before leaving the dock. Nothing worse than pulling into the narrow channel only to see another boat coming in and having to squeeze by them.
Not preparing the sail and lines. Not a huge deal, but it’s much easier to get everything setup at the dock rather than while bouncing around in the waves.
Removing or securing gear on the deck. This was an expensive mistake when we lost our anchor and chain in 330 feet of water because the one bolt holding our anchor slipped off.