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  #1  
Old 05-09-2008
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Offshore Cruising - making ready and doing it right.

So as peak cruising season is rapidly approaching, I'd like to bring to your attention two excellent articles about standing watch and making the cockpit ready. Many of us know some of this stuff, but too often we have the same oversights as we find ourselves in sloppy seas (or worse) and wishing we had prepared a little better.

In Joy Smith's article, Cockpit Camping on Crossings, she gives us some great advice on all the things we should consider doing to make the cockpit ready. How many times have you been offshore and wished, with everyone feeling a bit queezy, that the bottles of water and saltines were ready to hand in the cockpit instead of having to sentence someone to a trip down below. I think her idea of a waterproof, fully equipped gear bag in the cockpit makes a lot of sense. The article is full of great ideas like this.

The Art and Science of Standing Watch, by John Rousmaniere, talks about planning out your watch. Personally I would try like the devil to avoid a less than 3 person watch. Two is fine for a day or two, but at least for me, my system really starts to wear down about day number three. Invite some good crew along for the fun! (Easier said than done right?) Anyway, this is another article to help us get in the right "mindset" for summer cruising.

Please share your thoughts and experiences on these subjects. My top five list is:
  1. Go to sea well rested so your system has the reserves it needs to transition into it's new environment.
  2. As mentioned, have that needed crew - at least three of you.
  3. Stone Wheat Thins by Red Oval Farms are better than saltines in my view. I've never seen a Stone Wheat come back at me!
  4. Listen to the forecast and if the conditions call for it, have the jack lines run ahead of time.
  5. If you're in the cooler northern climates, consider making up some Thermos's of Lipton's chicken soup or similar. Having that up top and ready to go a few hours into the trip? Nice!
What are your tips and thoughts?

P.S. - Just to get in the "spirit" I highly recommend you either carry on board, or better yet the crew buys and reads ahead of time, the absolutely hilarious: Heave Ho: My Little Green Book Of Seasickness, by Charles Mazel
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Old 05-09-2008
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Here's one, Rob.

One of the issues when sailing offshore is making sure crew members stay hydrated. Important for two reasons, alertness and good judgement suffer when a person becomes de-hydrated, and de-hydration leads to constipation, and no one likes to unclog the head!

A skipper that I sailed with a few years ago issued each crew member a one liter plastic screw-top bottle with a flip-up spout in the lid. Each crew member was required to drink one bottle in the am and another in the pm, at a minimum. We put our initials on the bottles with indelible ink to so he could check up on us. With the closeable spout, the bottles could be put anywhere in the cockpit and not spill.

I've adopted the practice on my own boat.
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Old 05-09-2008
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I sail inside a wheelhouse, so the dry storage of things is easier. However, it still needs lots of storage places to stop things sliding about. I am continuing to increase the number of sheet and halyard bags, which double as bottle and bag holders.

I see here advice for a 3 plus crew and in other places the single handed sailor's sleep patterns are addressed. What advice is there for a sailing couple? This seems to require the application of the single handed sailor's sleeping routines but in a watch system for two. We are experimenting with night and day watch and off-watch preferences. I like the night, my partner the day, so the darkest of the night belongs to me.
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