The Importance of a Thorough Pre-Passage Checklist: A Sailor’s Perspective
Sailing can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to take safety seriously. Before setting sail, it’s essential to conduct a pre-passage check to ensure that everything is in good working order and that you have all the necessary equipment on board. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the key items to include on your pre-passage checklist.
1. Check the weather
Before setting sail, it’s important to check the weather forecast. Make sure to look at both the current conditions and the forecast for the duration of your planned voyage. If the forecast indicates strong winds or rough seas, you may want to reconsider your plans. Additionally, make sure you have a way to receive weather updates while at sea.
2. Inspect the hull
Before leaving the dock, take a close look at the hull of your boat. Look for any cracks, blisters, or other damage that could compromise the boat’s integrity. Pay particular attention to the waterline, where damage is more likely to occur. If you notice any damage, have it repaired before setting sail.
3. Check the rigging
Inspect the rigging of your boat, including the mast, shrouds, and stays. Look for any signs of wear or damage, such as frayed or kinked lines. Make sure all connections are secure and that all lines are properly tensioned. If you notice any problems, address them before leaving port.
4. Check the sails
Inspect your sails for any signs of wear or damage, such as tears, holes, or worn areas. Check that all battens are securely in place and that the sail is properly rigged. Make sure you have all necessary sails on board for the conditions you expect to encounter.
5. Check the engine
Before setting sail, check the engine to ensure that it’s in good working order. Check the oil level, coolant level, and fuel level. Make sure all belts are properly tensioned and that the impeller is in good condition. Start the engine and let it run for a few minutes to make sure it’s operating properly.
6. Check the navigation equipment
Make sure all navigation equipment is in good working order. This includes the GPS, compass, charts, and any other navigation aids you plan to use. Check that all batteries are fully charged and that you have backups in case of equipment failure.
7. Check the safety equipment
Before setting sail, make sure you have all necessary safety equipment on board. This includes life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, and first aid supplies. Check that all equipment is in good working order and that you have enough supplies for the length of your voyage.
8. Check the communication equipment
Make sure you have all necessary communication equipment on board, such as a VHF radio and a satellite phone. Check that all equipment is in good working order and that you have backup communication options in case of equipment failure.
9. Check the provisions
Make sure you have enough food, water, and supplies on board for the length of your voyage. Check that all food is properly stored and that you have enough cooking fuel. Make sure you have a plan for disposing of waste while at sea.
10. Review your plan
Before setting sail, review your passage plan to ensure that it’s safe and feasible. Make sure you have a backup plan in case of unexpected weather or other challenges. Ensure that everyone on board knows the plan and their roles in case of emergency.
Remember to prioritize safety above all else and to never hesitate to call for help if you need it. With the right preparation, sailing can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for everyone on board.
11. Check the anchoring equipment
Anchoring is an essential part of sailing, especially if you plan to spend the night at anchor. Before leaving port, make sure you have all necessary anchoring equipment on board, including anchors, chain, and line. Inspect all equipment for wear or damage and make sure you have enough line to anchor in the depths you plan to encounter.
12. Check the bilge pump
A functioning bilge pump is essential to keep water out of the boat. Before leaving port, make sure your bilge pump is in good working order. Check that it turns on automatically and that the float switch is properly functioning. Make sure you have a backup manual pump in case of electrical failure.
13. Check the battery power
Before setting sail, check the battery power of your boat. Make sure all batteries are fully charged and that you have enough power to run all necessary equipment while at sea. Bring extra batteries or a generator if necessary.
14. Check the head (toilet)
The head is an essential component of any boat, especially for longer voyages. Before leaving port, check that your head is in good working order. Make sure you have enough toilet paper and a plan for disposing of waste while at sea.
15. Check the fuel and water tanks
Make sure you have enough fuel and water on board for the length of your voyage. Check that all tanks are full and that you have enough fuel to operate the engine and generator. If you plan to rely on water catchment, make sure you have enough capacity to catch and store enough water.
16. Check the weather forecast
Before setting sail, check the weather forecast for the duration of your voyage. Make sure you understand the conditions you can expect to encounter and adjust your plans accordingly. If you’re not experienced in reading weather forecasts, consider consulting a professional or experienced sailor to help you interpret the information.
17. Check the communication equipment
Effective communication is essential for safety while sailing. Before leaving port, make sure all communication equipment on board is in good working order. Test your VHF radio and make sure you have backup communication options like a satellite phone or handheld VHF.
18. Check safety equipment
Make sure you have all necessary safety equipment on board, including life jackets, flares, and a first aid kit. Inspect all equipment for wear or damage, and make sure everyone on board knows how to use it in case of an emergency.
19. Check navigation equipment
Navigational equipment is essential for safe sailing, especially if you’re venturing into unfamiliar waters. Before leaving port, check that all navigational equipment is in good working order. Make sure you have charts, a compass, and a GPS, and make sure everyone on board knows how to use them.
20. Check the crew
Last but not least, make sure your crew is ready and prepared for the voyage ahead. Conduct a safety briefing before leaving port, and make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities on board. Make sure everyone on board is comfortable and familiar with the boat and its equipment, and that everyone is well-rested and prepared for the journey.
By following these pre-passage check list steps, you can ensure that you and your crew have a safe and successful voyage. Remember, preparation is key when it comes to sailing, and taking the time to conduct a thorough pre-passage check can help prevent accidents and ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience.
Is there something else you check as part of your pre-passage checks before you go out? Let us know in the comments below.
Fair winds and calm seas,
Carl and Jenny