HOW TO PREPARE YOUR BOAT FOR AN OCEAN PASSAGE

Crossing oceans is dangerous. So how do you prepare the boat to meet these dangers head on?

Minimising risk and taking precautions beforehand is essential to ensure your boat is in good order and that all equipment is up to date. You must be prepared for

  • Running out of water
  • Typhoons
  • Being struck by lightning
  • Capsizing
  • One of you going overboard

For ANY ocean crossing you have to service every single system on the boat. On this passage, we have to make some modifications and add new systems. Some of you have wondered why it is going to take so long to prepare the boat before we can set off on our passage to the PNW. We hope this will give a clearer picture of the work we have to do.

GENERAL BOAT PREP

As permanent liveaboards, we have a pretty good idea of which areas need particular attention, but we still have to double-check everything, then make repairs or purchase replacements accordingly.

We will be going into detail on each aspect in the future, but for now this is the task ahead of us:

Safety equipment:

  • liferaft,
  • flotation devices with leg straps
  • double check jacklines
  • survival suits
  • flares
  • Grab bags (food, water, emergency water desalinator, comms, fishing equipment, flares, torch)
  • Epirb
  • personal epirbs

Medical kit:

  • prescribed antibiotics,
  • splints and bandages,
  • suture kits,
  • painkillers and morphine,
  • emergency dental kit,
  • some people carry defibrillators.

Rigging:

  • we’re re-rigging Esper, the current rigging is coming up for 10 years old.
  • Ensure goosenecks are not corroded or weak
  • Running rigging must be checked for wear and tear

Sails:

  • new mizzen staysail, and maybe new cruising chute?
  • update sail-mending kit

Steering – check all cables are in good order, not stretched and properly attached.

Deck gear:

  • Each winch must be dismantled, cleaned, repaired and re-assembled
  • You should carry spare winch handles
  • All other fittings like blocks, shackles, stanchions, guard rails to be inspected

Through-hull fittings:

  • Attach bungs next to every seacock in case of emergency
  • Have a plan clearly on display showing the position of all through-hull fittings

Electrical and electronic systems – including batteries and all cables

Plumbing and pipework – including water tanks, toilet and watermaker

Engine – complete inspection, including filter and oil changes, new impeller etc

Spares!

  • Bags of spares for the engine/watermaker/generator/rigging and sail connectors.
  • In fact, it would be good to have a complete spare locker full of spares of everything!
  • A support vessel? Haha!

Comms

  • Essential to have good communications for long distances, particularly for weather predictions. Iridium Go seems to be the best on the market currently – unless Elon Musk comes up with an alternative!

This list is not exhaustive, what would you add?

Click the image below for the video!

We will be heading into a colder climate, so this means making some big purchases and implementing some structural changes aboard Esper.

The additional work and new gear is going to cost thousands of dollars, so you are probably wondering how we are going to afford to do all this.

  1. From this point our Patreon and Rum Fund pledges will be diverted towards prepping Esper.
  2. We have already started tightening our belts – e.g. we postponed flying to UK to see family right now, because we can’t afford it!
  3. We will be applying for a bank loan.

If you would like to become a Followtheboat Mate and help us achieve this exciting adventure eastwards, please consider becoming a Patron or Rum Funder. You only need to pledge $2 per month to become a mate of ours, and in return you’ll always be the first to hear our news and plans. And your name will be in our video roll call!

ADDITIONAL BOAT PREP

Add a heating system:

  • A diesel stove would mean reconstruction in the saloon, disruptive through-deck fittings and would only be used for a short while.
  • Hot air systems like Eberspacher or Webasto can eat into your batteries and are considered less effective in the Pacific North West
  • If we install a generator we can use it in warm climates, and would be able to install a less intrusive hot air system…

Cockpit protection:

  • Our existing sprayhood and bimini are not adequate for long ocean passages. When we crossed the Indian Ocean from Maldives to Malaysia we were soaked to the skin throughout the adventure. As we head north this will be untenable, so we need to install an enclosed cockpit.

Adequate protection for ourselves:

  • Socks! Foul-weather gear, including shoes/boots and thermals.
  • New mittens for Millie!
  • Dry suit,or at least some kind of protection for getting in cold water for emergencies.
  • Can you think of anything else?

Thank you for reading this blog, and remember that if you are unable to become a Followtheboat Mate, please help us by SHARING this post and any of our videos on your social media. It helps get the word out!

Peace and fair winds!

Liz, Jamie and Millie xxx

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