Make yourself a "sailplan". Do it as a table where you note the departure time from each "way point" in one column and the ETA "Expected Time of Arrival" for the next way point in another column. Each etape (passage between way points) gets its own line in the table. Further columns can be introduced for "comments" such as velocity and direction of current
for the particular etape you are dealing with. Charts
will tell you where suitable way points are, places where you can either tie up to a float or buoy, or put your anchor
down so you can wait out an unfavourable current
without "losing ground". And places where you can stay safely in the night time.
With two of you aboard, and planning to motor
all the way, make your etapes of 6 hour's duration, and take 2-hour turns on the helm
. In the Buccaneer with a 15HP engine
you'll be going 4.5 knots THROUGH THE WATER
. Where you are going, the current will run 5 knots quite often, and therefore, if the current is against you, you'll be going BACKWARDS in relation to the land. If the current is WITH you, you'll be going 9 knots forward in relation to the land.
The direction of the current will change every 6 hours, or so, in the waters where you are going. The precise times at which the current changes, the times at which it has maximum flow, the times at which it has NO flow (called "slack water"), and its velocity at maximum flow, you can pick up from the current tables which you can find by googling or by buying
them in hard-copy from a chandler's.
Being new to the game
you shouldn't be out there at night. So plan to be moving only in daylight and on a current that runs the way you want to go. You plan these etapes by looking at the current and tide tables. Don't try to "buck the tide". You'll just make a frustrating misery of the trip rather than a pleasure.
IF you can get in 2 etapes in daylight on a given day, AND if you motor
, your effective speed in relation to the land will be about 7 knots, maybe 8 for the each of the 6 hour passages so that in 12 hours total running time (2 favorable tidal flows) you can get in 12 hours x 7 knots = 84 miles, i.e. very nearly the entire distance.
I said IF :-)! So get out your tables and plan your passage
. When you've done that you take it to your dad and say: "SEE!" You might even convince him that you know what you are doing :-)
Even after 60 years of sailing I STILL do a "sail plan" ALWAYS. If I'm in waters I know intimately I can usually keep the "table" in my head
, and the Tide Tables and the Current Tables are ALWAYS on my navigating table, just in case I mess up and have to go back and do the plan over again. When I'm in unfamiliar waters I ALWAYS do it on paper, and I plot my intended track on the chart.
I have a little retro-fit Garmin GPS
in my car. I take it with me aboard. I set it to read out the co-ordinates, and every fifteen minutes or so, I amuse myself with plotting the coordinates from the GPS
on a paper chart. That shows me how close I am to my intended track and if I need to make course corrections. My silly little el-cheapo GPS is accurate to within 2 boat
lengths or so. It takes me 10 minutes to go a mile through the water
when I'm going full bore, so plotting every 15 minutes I ALWAYS know exactly where I am.
Someone else said make sure you have a VHF
. Second that! One reason I plot every fifteen minutes is that if I should ever need to send a PAN-PAN or, God forbid, a MAYDAY I have the last plotted coordinates still in my head
and can give them without having to look them up and that should bring the Coast Guard so close to my current position that they could actually see me.