The key to a safe coastal passage is planning. Skippers and crew who plan their sailing trip thoroughly have an easier time of it at sea. They seem to get lucky with the weather, have a laugh with their handpicked crew, enjoy tasty and easy to prepare meals and currents and tide always seem to be working in their favour. Those who don’t prepare their sailing passage properly, run out of fuel at the worst possible time, get caught out by heavy winds and constantly battle the tide and current.
The most important areas to cover in the planning, apart from the condition of your yacht and crew, are the weather and navigation. A short coastal sail from Wollogong to Sydney Harbour won’t take long to plan, but a passage from the Whitsundays to Hobart will require a few more hours. The main thing is to not rush anything. It’s better to be over-cautious than simply leaving the dock with no plan or strategy.
During the preparation of your sailing journey, you also need to make a fair assesment of your own skills, those of the crew and the seaworthiness of your yacht. If heavy winds are forecasted, the skipper will have to make the tough call: go or postpone. Never be over confident and let gutsy behaviour do the talking. On the other hand, don’t let ‘harbour sickness’ take over either. Sometimes it’s better to bite the bullet and go.