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Twelve Tips for Cruisers


Hello Sailors,

If you plan on doing any long-term off-shore cruising like I do, I can’t recommend enough the classes offered by the US Sail and Power Squadron (“USPS”). They have chapters all over the US so hopefully you’ll find a chapter near to you.

They also offer educational seminars in the off-season, if you live in an area that won’t allow you to sail year ’round. So if you decide taking a course is not for you, then you might consider attending these informational seminars dedicated to all things boating.

One of the courses I completed with the USPS is Cruise Planning. This course has a wealth of great information for those of you planning to cruise the world. Today I’m sharing just twelve of these great cruising tips. Enjoy!

1. When planning a cruise, estimate your cruising speed at 70% of your normal speed.

2. Prepare a float plan for your cruising itinerary and leave it with a responsible adult back on land.

3.To determine the size diesel engine your sailboat needs, take the sailboat’s displacement and divide by 1,000 then multiply by 2. So for example if your boat’s hull displacement is 20,000 the calculation would be 20,000/1,000 = 20 X 2 = 40 or 40 horsepower.

4. If your life raft has not been inspected for some time (years), it should be inflated in a pool or other body of water to make sure it still deploys and floats and all of the emergency equipment on board should be tested before setting off on an off shore cruise.

Cruising and Cruise Planning

5. The cheapest radar reflector you can find works just as well as the most expensive for making your boat visible on radar. This way if it should for any reason fall over board, you can have a supply on board that won’t break the bank.

6. You should have at least two Type B fire extinguishers on board, know how to use them, and not store them in the cabinet behind the stove since the stove is the most likely place for a fire to start.

Cruising and Cruise Planning

7. To clean your water tank add one cup of bleach to a 40 gallon tank, then fill the tank half way. The rocking motion of the boat will clean the entire tank on a windy day. Then drain the tank and refill and drain several times with fresh water to rinse out any chlorinated water. Open all sink faucets to flush those lines. Add one cup of baking soda to the last rinse to deodorize the tank and lines. This process should be repeated each year, especially if you add antifreeze to the tank over winter.

8. At a minimum, you should carry two anchors that address different bottom conditions. The anchors should be sized larger than recommended by the manufacturer and should be stored but accessible for immediate use.

Cruising and Cruise Planning

9. If you have a radar on board, practice using it on clear days so you can learn what the different blips on the screen represent. This way you can be ready to use it in less than desirable conditions.

10. Pilot Charts produced by the NGA are excellent resources for coastal and offshore cruising as they offer information on wind, ocean currents, areas of fog, weather, average temperature, and other pertinent information. The information is presented by month and presents the averages for that month typically seen for the area in question.

11. An index of your charts and where they are stowed aboard is recommended.

12. When meeting people to come aboard, set a time or a place, but never both. Sailing is not precise delivery since it can be impacted by so many things like weather, mechanical failure or wind.

If you have any other cruising tips that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section below.

See you on the water,

Sail Away Girl