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Old 09-18-2000
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Equipment for Ocean Sailing

I am about to undertake my first ocean sailing experience. What kind of equipment should I have on board my Catalina 22?

Chris Saraga

Mark Matthews responds:

For any offshore sailing, daysailing, or just heading out for an hour or two, you should have some basic equipment on board. Most importantly you need to know how to use the equipment. Being a novice the first item you need is a good seamanship book. I recommend Chapman's Seamanship and Piloting. Be sure to read it and have a basic understanding of navigation, piloting, and weather. Have all the USCG-required safety equipment. Don't forget your fog horn, a good first aid kit, a set of tapered wooden plugs in case of a hole or broken thru-hull and GPS along with charts of the area. In addition, always chart your course while underway (parallel rules, triangle, course plotter), and know your position just in case your GPS fails. Make sure your compass is in good shape. A waterproof VHF radio is essential. A radar reflector is also needed—if you end up in front of a ship at least they will see you. I would also have a small EPIRB and a small inflatable raft just in case—remember that water is cold. Consider going out for a few daysails in the area to get comfortable before heading to your destination and ask the locals about tidal information and what areas to avoid. If you prepare for the worst, you worry about it the least. These are just a few items to consider for taking your boat offshore. Above all, remember to enjoy the experience.

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