First launched thirty years ago, SisterShip Magazine has been taken out of drydock, refitted, and is now ready to set sail. Our team has been busy in the ‘shipyard’ and we are about to untie the lines. We would love you to join us on our voyage!
Here is a taster of what is coming up – there are plenty of other surprises… don’t miss out, follow us on our Facebook Page or via our website, so you’ll be the first to know when the first issue is ready.
Cruisers’ Accumulated Acumen is selling incredibly well and has been tagged by a top sailing magazine as, “…probably the most comprehensive reference book designed for preparation for cruising life.”
Here’s an excerpt from our book – which not only includes over 1,800 tips, tricks and ideas for living on board, but also informative and fun articles such as this…
Your grab bag, ditch kit, flee bag (sounds like my old dog), jump-and-go-bag should include stuff to measure your own priorities and capabilities. What would you need? Who is on board and where you are going? Does everyone on board know where it is?
Align your inclusions with distance. Seasons don’t count, anyone on the water knows you can experience all four seasons twice in one day. However, thinking about the sea temperature is important; hypothermia has an insatiable hunger. The sea gods also have an unquenchable greed and anything in your boat that you think you need should have a piece of string (lanyard) fitted, to give you a fighting chance of hanging on to it. Common sense, speedy reaction and lack of panic should be mentioned, although I am not sure how to pack those things. The bag obviously needs to be watertight and waterproof, a bright reflective colour is a good idea (boats don’t just sink during the day).
Each to their own; some people include their obituaries – how very odd . . .! Other cruising buddies suggest a book and a mattress! All very nice, but I can think of several more important items. I’d rather have an extra bottle of water than reading material.
At the very least have water, flares and attention grabbers, surviving is nice, but being rescued is even better. The ditch kit should contain items for immediate use and possibly some months. Short-term think injuries, hypothermia and signalling devices. Mid to long-term survival, think water and food. Are you going to make water or catch it? Can you catch fish? Provision for prevention of sun exposure is imperative if you don’t want to end up like a crisp.
I have seen lists for short-term (minutes to hours), mid-term (hours to days), medium-term (days to weeks) and long-term (weeks to months). All very useful but how do you know which bag to collect when your boat sinks? Do you take all four? Think necessity not holiday!
Can the bag be snatched quickly? Paperwork is a good one, your passports and boat papers have to be somewhere, why not in the grab bag? Add a few dollars (American dollars are the most widely accepted if you are travelling overseas). Think of all the bureaucratic bits of paper that cause major headaches and gnashing of teeth, if you had to replace them.
As terrifying as it sounds, one day you might need it; now’s the time to think carefully about what it should contain. Grab bags provide thought-provoking conversations to all boat people. (Young, ‘Include my favourite toy’, old, ‘Put in the fine Scotch dear’), both would argue that their life depends on it.
Research suggests forgetting everything you have seen in the movies, on TV and in novels. But I tend to disagree, who’s to say what happens – survivors of course, but what of those who don’t. That monumentally dramatised scene could be precisely what happens. We’ve met a survivor whose boat took fifteen minutes to sink. He had ‘all the time in the world’ to grab stuff from cupboards. He now thinks all boats take this long to be swallowed in to the deep. Most of us know a story where a boat vanishes within seconds; those brief moments may give you enough time to grab your survival bag.
We have one big bag on our boat, which ideally should be split in two (1) Absolute necessities and (2) Necessities. However, it’s not and at the time of writing we are firmly welded to a mooring (for now). Our bag includes years of ideas gleaned from chatting to other people on boats as to ‘what’s in yours?’. It has (in no particular order): survival suits, sunglasses, wind up torch, handheld radio (VHF) and spare batteries, Spirulina (nutrient source in powder form), survival sheets (space blankets), hand Watermaker, toilet roll, water, string, fishing hooks/line, signalling mirror, knife, seasick tablets, First Aid with extra strong painkillers, flares, sanitary products, wet/baby wipes, tea towel, plastic bags, sea marker dye, lighter, paperwork (passports/boat papers/money), sunscreen, t-shirts, whistle, barley sugar, handheld GPS and batteries.
Diving into the bag after a year I am surprised to see that the wet wipes are still moist and the Spirulina still edible (mind you, it does look and smell remarkably like mould – even when new). Clearly, batteries should be replaced regularly, as should water in plastic bottles (leeching). Sunscreen and tablets/pills will have use by dates to be aware of too. We have spent over three weeks at sea in one go and been 1,500 miles from the nearest land, hence a fairly comprehensive bag. In compiling our kit, we gave careful thought to all the yummy stuff already included in our life-raft when it was last surveyed. Our EPIRBs are mounted in the boat, perhaps one should have been in the bag. Now, I would also include the Leatherman and some cereal bars. But the bag is heavy already.
Our small Watermaker was purchased in America (US$600). In Puerto Rico we met a guy who spent 66 days in a life-raft, in the Pacific Ocean, with his wife. They were attacked and holed by a pod of whales, ‘they were so lovely, riding alongside us and suddenly they turned . . .’ (Note to self: do not enjoy company of whales, turn on engine and shoot flares into water if same happens). He claims that they would be dead if they had not had the Watermaker in their grab bag. Before setting sail into the mighty Pacific, we purchased one. The emotions of coughing up the equivalent of almost a thousand Australian dollars were an odd mix; unwillingness to part with a large chunk of our cruising budget, conflicting with the thought that should we find our lives depended on it, it would seem a remarkably small amount of money. The Watermaker is still in its bag, unused and lonely, long may it remain so!
Other suggestions from friends:
My humble opinion
Chemical heat packs
Space blanket is smaller and works well
Book to read
Wool and rubber work gloves
Maybe one pair
Enema sack for rehydration
I’d rather drink the water
Already in life-raft
Swiss Army knife, sharpening stone, tube of oil.
Make sure knife is sharp to start with
Way too hard to use in life-raft
In life-raft already
Chemical light sticks
Dried fruit and chocolate
I’d never say no to chocolate (ensure fruit is not already in chocolate – this stuff can really go off)
Survival ship’s biscuits
Small plankton net
Photocopies of all essential crew documents
Yup(or the originals)
Shore survival items in case you land in an uninhabited island: waterproof matches, flint, wire saw
It’s all getting a bit much
Self-inflating foam pad or air mattress
What about a snugly blanket and a cuddly teddy bear too – really . . . !
Spare prescription glasses
Good idea – these are in our life-raft
Pack all gear into separate waterproof bags
Not a bad idea
We hope you found this article useful. It was compiled with ideas from many different cruisers and survivors. They all openly expressed their survival considerations, experience and concerns.
On the 11th November I’ll number each share and ask someone to randomly pick a number.
Here’s the blurb:
“We are from Australia, we have cash, and we have jet-lag and a desperate stare in our eye. In short, we are mugs ready to be led down the path of nautical slavery. If you can’t sell us a boat, there is something very wrong.”
The pull of the ocean was too strong to ignore any longer. Four years prior, they’d circumnavigated the globe on their 33-foot boat, Mariah. Now they wanted a new challenge.
So they sold all their belongings and flew to America from New South Wales in search of a boat.
Then Jackie and Noel set sail south, meeting descendants of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn, taking in the grand statues of Easter Island (the remotest inhabited island in the world) and making lifelong friends in Suwarrow.
Along the way, they lost a friend and came nail-bitingly close to losing their new boat. But they gained so much more.
This is a story of storms of emotions and oceans, travel, love, and relationships, and two people figuring out life and fulfilling their need to move and be challenged.
I started writing this blog back in February 2014 and I have learnt so much in that time! If you are planning on having a blog for keeping track of your sailing adventures I would recommend that you start early to enable you to get your head around a few things before you head off. My main reason for writing a blog is for my own personal records of our planning and adventures, for family and friends to keep track of what we are up to, and hopefully it might become a useful resource for others who are hoping to do something similar.
If we can make a bit of extra cash to spend on yacht maintenance along the way via the blog, then that would be brilliant too. Getting it all set up takes a bit of time so here is what I have learnt so far and I am…
*pages of FREE navigation tips, tricks ideas & advice*
Be safe & have a wonderful Christmas & New Year – fair winds.
I read a great FB post this morning on how a cruiser found that different range scales on their electronic charts meant different information being shown. More critically, some hazards were not shown on a small scale. Continue reading →
We are currently preparing Wildwood for our delivery trip North. We are taking her up the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand from Lyttelton Harbour – where we live – to Waikawa Marina, which is nestled in the heart of the Marlborough Sounds.
Our aim is to take her up early December on the best weather window and then drive home to do the last couple of weeks at work and then drive back up again on boxing day for some holiday fun!
Last year I attended a passage planning session at the yacht club run by David Kennett who has done the trip many times and he had some good tips to share. I am now going over my notes again to make sure we have got all our ducks in a row for the upcoming voyage.
I love navigating, whether by stars, chart or GPS. Usually, on a voyage we navigate via GPS but back-up this wonderful device with good old chart work. On occasion we do sun-sights too.
Here are many diagrams on good navigation skills. Both recreationally and commercially, Noel and I have used every single one of these methods.
Parallel indexing in fog
DR when the GPS has lost its signal (or as back-up)
Set and drift when heading to GPS co-ordinates, on an urgent rescue
A few years ago I was a skipper on different ships in Papua New Guinea (Noel had his own-different-ship), with thirteen local men as crew. The charts were out of date, there were chart errors* and GPS errors. I HAD to rely on my navigation skills. This wasn’t easy, I was in new ports, fast currents, narrow channels and a boat with its controls labelled in Japanese (plus 300 passengers).
Coupled with all this fun, some of the boats were air-started… use too many forward and astern manoeuvres when docking (on a busy commercial wharf), and you run out of air, run out of….. engine!
I was told today that I don’t have enough skills to be a trainer – which is my job in Australia. Assumptions were made after reading my blog. So I’m giving myself a shout-out today.
I am proud of my skills, they have been earned. I’ve not only been a commercial skipper on the high-seas, but busy inland waterways and canals too. As a commercial skipper (up to 80 metres) I have had, not only, to sit tough exams (written and verbal and practical), to gain my tickets, I have to prove my commercial sea-time and prove my skills and experience by signed reports by Captains of a higher level. My qualifications were only granted after the assessments were done and, in some cases, years of sea-time had to documented.
So, yes, this is a shout out for me! …and…
By the by, combining Noel’s experience with mine, both recreational and commercial, into a book isn’t easy (it’s a big book) – but it is amazing value at $4.99! – more pictures here and here. Plus another great resource here.
Cruisers’ AA contains details on all the errors that can occur, and how to deal with them – some may well surprise you!