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Don Radcliffe
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398 Posts
Sorry, but almost all of the posters just don't get it. A shakedown sail is to test the boat and the crew, and you don't sit around thinking about what ifs, you GO SAILING!

Your shakedown program should build up gradually, but as a minimum, it should include:

1. A minumum 30 miles dead to weather in the open ocean with winds 20 knots or more. That will find the leaks far better than a hose, and will give you a chance to sort out seasick meds, reefing systems, motor cooling, tankage/vent leaks, and velocity made good under various sail/motor combinations. It would be best to beat all night long, but then the admiral would probably mutiny....

2. Reaching or running in winds over 30 knot and seas to match, to test the autopilot and sailplan for those conditions.

3. Anchoring out for at least 5 nights, to test anchoring systems/technique, electrical draw, refrigeration/cooking, heaters or cooling fans, bunks, etc.

4. A minimum passage of 2 full nights, which will let you check out the electrical system, night lighting, navigation, weather forecasting, communications, crew fatigue, AIS/radar/visual traffic avoidance, and a whole host of other critical factors.

It may be hard to meet the first two tests in your area, but if you can the boat is ready for over 98% of the conditions you will experience while cruising. The last test is the most important, and it is critical that you do that shakedown with the crew that you will be with. That is the time to find out how personalities (including yours) can cope with with stress, fatigue and the inevitable breakdown of all those new fancy systems you installed. It is also really important to try to fix things yourself as there won't be any shiprights/riggers/mechanics/electronic techs out there where you are. Spend your time on the shakedowns reading the manuals and operating all the systems AT SEA.
 
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