Join Date: Jul 2013
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For first time blue water crew member
Here are a few suggestions from a lowly crew member who has just completed his first truly offshore (Norfolk to Bermuda) sail.
Take Bonine or some other seasickness protection even if you have never been seasick before. If you are incapacitated, someone else will have to complete your duties and take care of you. It's not just about you.
Buy an inflatable PFD/harness combination rather than two separate units. Trying to untangle a separate harness for the midnight watch in the dark or in just "red" light is a nightmare. If there is an emergency, you won't be able to respond quickly.
Get a headlamp that allows you to go directly to "red" light so as not to blind your shipmates. Get two and keep them in a designated place.
If you are inexperienced in driving the boat, don't wait until there is an emergency before you learn how. Be proactive here.
Eat. And eat well. Stay warm and dry. Get as much rest/sleep as your duties allow.
Get good foul weather gear.
Work hard on some skill before the trip. With a netbook/laptop, a GPS puck, OpenCPN, and the appropriate charts, you can be a backup navigator. Add to that a portable radio w/ SSB, FLDIGI, and connecting cable, you can provide weather/wind/wave data. A small printer helps.
Print relevant information about the place that you are going, the route, and anything else that might be helpful but not available once underway. Put the pages in plastic sleeves and organize in a 3-ring notebook for the boat.
Request written "boat" instructions and learn them and follow them - particularly those dealing with safety. Stay in the boat. Keep yourself tethered under all but the calmest conditions when not below.
Approach the trip as though you were going to be in charge. If things go south, you might be.
Our captain printed up a "cheat sheet" describing under just what conditions we would reef, and we adhered to it.
I knew that at 70, I wouldn't be expected to handle emergencies on the foredeck in the middle of the night so I tried to compensate with prepared meals, some financial assistance, and some of the things described already. We had no talk of religion or politics, and the trip went smoothly!