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Old 27-09-2013, 05:19   #1
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Checking boat before offshore

I am planning to do transatlantic westward on Belize 43 taken from the charter company. The boat is not new and I am not familiar with it...
My question is - what steps should I take to make sure that boat is up to the task? What qualifications are needed from it? May be you have checklist or guidelines how to do it?
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Old 27-09-2013, 06:11   #2
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

I will assume that you haven't done a big passage before, considering the question. The first thing on a used boat is to get a professional to do a full survey (knowing that the boat will do a transatlantic passage) to check for the kind of structural problems that a surveyor is experienced in locating.
Once that has been done there are a number of tasks and checks that need to be performed, here are just a couple:
- inventory all gear.
- test gear to see if it actually works.
- make a minimum safety equipment list (varies by person) - liferaft, fire extinguishers, kitchen fire blanket, EPIRB, lifevests, tethers, jacklines, hard-points for tethers and jacklines, VHF, grab-bag, emergency rations, etc. Anything you have should not have expired tags.
- Get some sea-time on the boat to learn the sail and handling characteristics.
- Sails - inventory, ensure all reefing systems work (not in fair-weather, but in more difficult conditions). Are there storm sails? Trysails?

This is just a short beginning list to give you an idea of what needs to be thought about. After that come things like provisioning & water, passage planning, crew rotation and watch schedules, etc., etc.

The ARC does a god job of categorizing a lot of these tasks, while some of that material is probably copyrighted you could check out their website for pointers.
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Old 27-09-2013, 07:49   #3
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

Here is a link to the arc safety checklist:
ARC safety checklist | Yachting Monthly
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Old 27-09-2013, 08:04   #4
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

Here is a link to a recent discussion on this with a list made by Beth and Evans Estarzinger, a couple of very experienced offshore sailors. This would be a good place to start.

Offshore preperation check list
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Old 27-09-2013, 08:27   #5
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

I put the focus on the rig, steerage (including self steering), sail condition (make any repairs or re-enforce anything that needs it), and engine (clean filters, fresh oil change, fluid levels are up... tranny, coolant, oil).

Not to say that the contents of the ditch bag aren't important, but I'd put the focus on the things that might cause you to need the ditch bag first. The once over on all the items I listed above can easily take a day. Going through the ditch bag and other classic safety stuff takes twenty minutes.
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Old 27-09-2013, 08:59   #6
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

i would go with evans and beths lists...they have been there and done that many times.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:13   #7
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

I didnt have any luck with the links, but I will add something that I have posted a number of times on CF. Take your boat out to an anchorage and turn the main battery switch off, and see if you can function onboard for a day or two. Electrical/charging system failures are common enough to take preparations for. Can you access fresh water without power? Are your heads electric, and can they be manually pumped? Do your manual bilge pumps actually work, and do you have a spares kit for it? Do you have the fittings and tools to bypass the gas shut off switch that most propane stoves are equipped with? Do you have at least one, maybe more kerosene lamps, so that you can function down below without power? Battery powered GPS with plenty of spare batteries? Basic paper charts of your destination, and an alternate port? Even if the boat is equiped with a generator, you can still have a complete system failure. Boats will easily sail across oceans without electrics or engines, it is the crew that needs water,hot food, working head, etc that is often supplied by electricity. Of the things that I have mentioned, the fittings to bypass the propane solenoid is the least likely to already be on board. The parts are probably not more than 15 dollars, and if you have tried it in preparation, it would not take more than a few minutes to change over. A one burner seaswing stove is a good backup, but feeding a hungry crew with a one burner stove can be hard. It has probably been mentioned already, but make sure your emergancy tiller actually works. Many that are supplied by the builders are no better than a joke. Hopefully everything works perfectly on your passage, but a little prep can make a big problem seem much less crtical. Best of luck. _____Grant.
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Old 27-09-2013, 10:39   #8
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

You might look at the Offshore Special Regulations which are used in ocean racing. Your passage sounds like it falls within the "Category One" regulations. You're not racing so you're not bound by these rules, but they still contain a lot of good advice.
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Old 27-09-2013, 13:30   #9
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I put the focus on the rig, steerage (including self steering), sail condition (make any repairs or re-enforce anything that needs it), and engine (clean filters, fresh oil change, fluid levels are up... tranny, coolant, oil).

Not to say that the contents of the ditch bag aren't important, but I'd put the focus on the things that might cause you to need the ditch bag first. The once over on all the items I listed above can easily take a day. Going through the ditch bag and other classic safety stuff takes twenty minutes.
Thank you! I also mostly things about rig, and steering. What are ways to check them? How to check sails?
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Old 27-09-2013, 13:33   #10
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

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Originally Posted by gjordan View Post
I didnt have any luck with the links, but I will add something that I have posted a number of times on CF. Take your boat out to an anchorage and turn the main battery switch off, and see if you can function onboard for a day or two. Electrical/charging system failures are common enough to take preparations for. Can you access fresh water
Thank you a lot! Very helpful. I never thought about need for manual pumping of fresh water and about the solenoid for cooking...
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Old 27-09-2013, 13:34   #11
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
i would go with evans and beths lists...they have been there and done that many times.
Thank you!
Do you mean this book (Voyager's Handbook), or there is separate "check list" ?
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Old 27-09-2013, 18:36   #12
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

aq ditch bag can be put together in less than 5 minuets. i dont worry about that until i am stsanding on coachhouse roof with water to my knees and the cat on boom crying.
ditch bag is for when you do not have trust in your boat or your own repairs and prep.
or if lightning is all around with cloud to ground hits frequently close by.
i concern myself with safety of boat before i go out anywhere. if boat is not safe, then one will require a ditch bag and life raft.
as i repair this boat, repair guy and i agree on safety of boat and me and cat first, then aesthetics.
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Old 27-09-2013, 19:56   #13
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

Evans list here

Offshore preperation check list
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Old 27-09-2013, 20:35   #14
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Re: Checking boat before offshore

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Originally Posted by sea_kaban View Post
Thank you! I also mostly things about rig, and steering. What are ways to check them? How to check sails?
The rig is simple and you can look for obviously loose fittings, missing pins, or visible cracks. There are better ways, but that will buy you a lot. Go to the mast head and look around for anything that looks cracked. If you don't go all the way up, use binoculars from the deck.

With the sails, hoist them and look at them. Look for holes, tears, or patches of chafe. It's a carefully shaped piece of cloth but at the end of the day, it's a piece of cloth.

Steering is about loose hardware and fasteners, depending on your steerage system. If you have cables and pulleys (normal), look at the pulleys for any kind of wobble or something loose.

A lot of problems can be stopped by just looking at advance and tightening something that has worked itself loose a bit.
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