It's that time of year when boats are getting ready to sail offshore. I'm often asked for last minute advice. These are the top tips and tricks I found useful during our circumnavigation. I'm sure another sailor would have different ideas to add to these.
Smooth sailing Scott, Mary, Timothy and Finn Malone of s/v Whisper, I hope you find something useful here.
- Before setting sail, think about grab and go food. Cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers, anything so the cook does not have to be depended on. I get sea sick and it takes about 3-5 days before I feel like cooking. I often will cook a big roast, or something that can be used for quick sandwiches. I have everything in baggie ready to grab.
- Take US stamps, I wrote letters put stamps on them and handed them to tourist from the US to mail for me when they got home. Cheaper, and faster. People loved mailing them for me.
- We took $500 in ones and 5's stashed away. The debit card is the best!! It is taken in every small country- better than American Express(which we had and paid for- many countries would not even take it) In addition we had a Visa and Master Card. But debit was the one used most. We would pull into a country and go to the machine- get what we thought would be just enough to get us through, countries will not take back their money unless it's a big amount and you never get what you paid for it and they don't take back any coins.
- Get a boat stamp! Some officials want you to have one. Cheap and easy to have made.
- Guest book, many boats have a scrape book/guest book for others they meet to write a message or sign in .It's great fun. Many Yacht clubs will ask you to fill out a page as well, great art project for the kids to get involved.
- Boat cards, everyone exchanges them, cruisers will know you by your boat name, not your name and will want to keep in contact. I bought a card holder and as we meet boats put the cards in order and wrote on the back when we meet- we are still in contact with most of them. Blogs make that much easier now.
- Free boat cards at Vista.com- you can pay a little more and get your boat photo on it- the cards we liked the best had the type of boat on them.
- Don't worry about the pressure cooker- if you aren't using it now you won't use it sailing- you will cook just like you do now. Do you need to save fuel now- it's cheap, you can get it in all countries.
- I did not label, varnish, oil, Vaseline any cans of food. I did buy 6 months of extra food- on board at all times, just in case something happened. Every inch of the boat had stores of food. Food is easy to get here, cheap and better to carry than once you leave because you have a car.
- REMOVE ALL CARDBOARD FROM PACKAGES IN OTHER COUNTRIES!!!!! Do this at the store!!!!!!! People will look at you funny-- DO IT!!!!!
- GET ROACH KILLER STUFF NOW- gross as it is you will get them, so be ready to act fast.
- Stainless welding rod on board, 6 or so, a must-- many countries can weld but don't have the rods.
- Nylons shorts for everyone- they wear nicely, wash quickly. You will be hotter than ever before, and the cost of laundry is unreal- I did it in the cockpit, nylon washes with little water dries quickly.
- Spare parts- lots of, you'll never get them cheaper than here and they are easy to get.
Take email addresses for all major part suppliers- much cheaper than the phone call home for the spare part and I assure you you will be calling home for parts.
When buying parts now, see if the part has any substitutes, or other part numbers. Many countries do not use our part number system but have the same item- just under another number.
- Extra long swage-less rigging terminals- would be great but we don't have them for all of our rigging.
- Don’t forget the crew, its fun to have surprise packages for all on board. Simple finger puzzles, a candy bar, jokes, cartoons, a book about birds- wrapped & given for a special occasions- first rainy day at sea, crossing the equator, stuck in the doldrums, have fun, be creative.
- MP3 player- I have the SanDisk because it uses an AAA battery which was important to me.
- Wildlife books. We enjoy keeping a record of what we see on the water and in the air. It was wonderful having resources to identify the creatures.