So far, our Great Loop voyage has taken us almost 4,000 miles, but that voyage really has been 70 separate day trips. We gradually developed routines to prepare R&R and ourselves for each day of travel. Some of our friends have asked about those routines, so we decided to share our Official Spykman Pre-Cruise Checklist (with some illustrations). It’s a work in process, and we are open to comments, additions or changes.
- The day before the trip (or earlier)
A. Plan the Route – review and discuss chart books and planning resources, and agree on route.
B. Make marina reservations for the night (unless planning for an achorage).
C. Create digital route(s) using Navionics app; upload the route(s) to Garmin’s Active Captain app; connect mobile device to Garmin chartplotter WIFI to sync Active Captain route(s) with chartplotter. Confirm that route(s) transferred to chartplotter.
D. Check Weatherbug app – forecast temperature and precipitation for the day
E. Check Windy and/or PredictWind app – forecast wind speed/direction and wave height/period/direction on the route during the day. (We try to avoid boating when winds will be >15 mph or waves will be >3 feet.)
F. Engine room: check and record in daily Captain’s Log spreadsheet the hours of main engines & generator, fuel levels, oil levels, coolant levels, drive belt condition, raw water strainers clear, seacocks open, no leaks.
2. The morning of the trip
A. Move essentials to flybridge: Captain, First Mate, clothing, camera, binoculars, two-way headsets, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, coffee(!).
B. Move all appliances, lamps, and other salon items to the floor to prevent damage and breakage from boat movement.
C. Squeegee condensation from flybridge windows, if needed.
D. Disconnect and stow shore power cord and shore water hose.
E. Move bicycles(s) to cockpit
F. Captain and First Mate put on two-way headsets for easy communication while preparing and leaving.
G. Start and warm up main engines (and generator if HVAC needed) for about 10 minutes.
H. Remove initial fenders and dock lines, leaving only essential fenders and lines to be removed at departure.
I. Check all navigation electronics and engine gauges to confirm that engines and electronics are operating correctly.
J. Test bow and stern thrusters to port and starboard.
K. Leave the dock slowly.
L. First Mate removes and stows the last dock lines and fenders.
3. Enjoy a safe and fun day on the water!