The thread that finally motivated me to ask this question has just been closed. It was about a boat that was sailing a few days behind me on the way from Tonga
to NZ. They got caught out, and to cut a long story short, set off the EPIRB
and had to be rescued, and abandoned their vessel.
The skipper has been crucified by the community at large, and described as lacking the prerequisite knowledge and experience to be where he was... However, he would have passed all of the tests for knowledge and experience.
I suppose this just backs up the comments that a skipper will be critiqued on his decisions more than his experience, and these things only count insomuch as they should
lead to better decision making.
I didn't (dont) want to divert this topic to discussing that particular incident. I didn't really want to focus on my own situation either - its a generic question, and I wondered if we could come up with a few generic answers.
Here's my own set of generic answers, partly gleaned from this thread, and partly from my own head
... It seems I'm a lot more conservative than most.
(initially a prioritized list, but then I got a bit distracted and waffled)
 - You must be able to fix or jury rig the critcal stuff when it breaks. (Fix a leak, repair or replace a pump, fix some basic enginey stuff, get access to fresh water if pump dies).
 - You should be able to jury rig or fix most breakdowns... particularly running rigging
. Ideally, also things like toilets, fridge, water pump...
 - Know how to plan - source & interpret weather info, source & interpret local charts
, source and utilise VHF
(and ideally SSB) channels, basic time & fuel
calculations, plan watches, manage customs
arrivals & departures.
 - Must know how to handle your vessel in heavy weather - should have actual experience with deploying drogue
and/or sea anchor
, heaving to, heavy sea passage
making, usage of harness/tethers... must have actual experience reefing and know when this is required.
 - Must know how to handle your vessel in normal conditions. Must have experience in anchoring
, berthing, tying up at dock/s, tender
management, etc. Must have understanding of rules of the sea including basic understanding (and/or reference cards) for night time sailing.
 - Must have basic first aid skills on board (either you or crew member).
 - Must be comfortable with the journey ahead. Let your own conscience be your guide. This is clearly not enough in isolation (you dont know what you dont know), but combined with a sensible approach, your own level of comfort and confidence with journeying seaward
will tell you if you are ready to cast off.
 Know your boat. I guess it means you need to know what your boat can handle? This is easier to say than to do, but you can at least test and guess where some of the boundaries are without breaking things.
...or does it mean, know where everything is, and how to access it all (and fix it all).
 Must know how to deal with emergencies - know exactly how to use flares, EPIRB
, and make a distress
call over vhf/ssb. Know how to deploy and enter the life raft (or dinghy
if thats all you have)
How does that look?