12 Jun 7 Things We Did To Prepare for an Atlantic Crossing
7. Software Updates
This may sound silly as the first item on the list, but our navigation, comms, and instrument software is vital to our safety.
B&Gs software update to the Zues3 MFD and NAC3 autopilot had some important changes. The one we enjoyed the most was faster radar display updates via wifi to the iPad at the nav station. Which also required updates to its OS and the Link app.
We use C-Map Max charts in the Zues and C-Map 4D charts in Expedition Navigation software down below. The charts contain not only just water depths, but quick access to important information such as marina phone numbers and emergency contacts. It is important to keep these up to date.
Our IridiumGo, which is our main link to the outside world for weather and communications required updates to its associated iPad and Android apps. This insured our web, email, text messaging, and SOS buttons worked.
Not quite as essential, our cameras and video editing software also required updates.
It is important to do this in plenty of time before leaving, as once out of the range of cell phone towers troubleshooting software issues becomes painful, if not impossible.
6. Download Offline Content
We spent hours at the local yacht club and restaurants hoarding their wifi.
We keep most books, music, videos, and boat manuals digitally. There is no google out there, so you have to bring all the knowledge you might need with you.
We have engine and electrical schematics, lists of medicines and emergency medical treatments, pilot charts, radio channel lists and schedules and more.
If you want to relax a bit while sailing and listen to music, there are no radio stations or pandora.
5. Carry More Spares for the Boat and People
When sailing the US East Coast or Caribbean you are never more than a day away from a marine or out parts store.
Out in the mid ocean, that is a different story, as we could be weeks away from a critical part we need.
Therefore, we must bring everything we could conceivably need with us. This applied to all critical infrastructure and systems aboard.
We normally carry a substantial list of supplies, but some areas we really stocked up in were engine parts, rigging parts, sail repair materials and tools, hull and fiberglass repair (especially for below waterline collisions), and first aid supplies.
4. Food, Water, and Fuel
This is what everyone thinks of first, but it is a fairly normal part of our daily lives.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and associated potential quarantine times we now keep a minimum of 14 days of extra “normal” food plus emergency freeze dried on the boat at all times. Stocking up for an ocean crossing is really just topping up our existing supplies.
Water is another normal part of life. We always have 5 gallons of emergency drinking water as well as a watermaker onboard. Prepping for water is really just a matter of making sure our existing 120 gallon tanks are full.
We do carry extra fuel in jerry cans when going for sails over 1000 miles. Normally we keep our extra cans empty and tucked out of the way, so before we leave we make sure they are filled with an additional 20 gallons of fuel. A quick run in the dinghy to the gas dock with our jugs takes care of this.
3. Watch the Weather
As sailors, the weather or more specifically the wind, waves, and currents drive our course to the next destination as well as when is the best time to leave. A good weather window makes for a smooth and fast trip.
We use multiple tools to stay on top of this, but we find the most important are our optimal routing tools.
Expedition software allows us to estimate our projected best route, sails we will use, and fuel we will require to complete the trip based on the expected weather (downloaded via grib files). It also gives us an estimated total time of completion, which is good to compare weather windows on different days.
When still on land and we have internet on our cell phones, we supplement routing data with other quick to view weather sources such as Sailflow, Predictwind, and Windy.
2. Boat Maintenance and Checks
Our boat is not only our home, but it is our means of transportation and our primary safety and survival system.
Before we left we went through and did our own survey on the boat. We repaired or replaced anything that was worn or in question.
We replaced most of the boats original hatch seals, ridding ourselves of a few annoying drips, but more importantly preventing small problems from becoming bigger ones at sea.
We also checked our rigging, sails, steering gear, engine, seacocks, hoses, and safety equipment. We dove the boat to check the prop and driveline, checked thru hulls had no obstructions, and that the hull was clean and otherwise OK.
It is important to decompress and relax a bit after all of the boatwork and prep. Take some time to breathe and see the sights if you can. A good meal and easy night out is a great way to end your time in a location.
Careful though, don’t overdo it as you don’t want to start a long offshore sail tired and not feeling 100%.