Why do you need to plan your passage
Passage planning is a legal requirement under the SOLAS V regulations (Safety of Life At Sea), but more importantly it ensures your, your crews and your boats safety and well being, for more information go to www. mcga.gov.uk/c4mca/solas.pdf
There is, however, no set format for a passage plan. It can be a hand written page, a pre-printed form that is filled in by hand, a page typed in WORD, or an EXCEL spread sheet, it is what suits you best.
What to factor in
- Where you are going from and to, this will determine your distance to travel and how long you expect your passage to take. This will form the basis of your route and from here you can develop your waypoints and make notes of useful landmarks on the way.
- Weather – What are the conditions going to be, how will they change, how will they affect your passage, for example will you be sailing upwind or downwind, will the tide be with the wind or against the wind. How will you get weather updates during your passage?
- Hazards – do you know where they are? What are your plans to avoid them?
- Tidal heights and tidal streams - when are the tidal streams favourable? Is there enough water to enter and exit the harbours and during the passage?
- Ports of refuge/contingency plans/what if you run late – is there a possibility that you may need to do a night time entry.
- Information left ashore – make sure someone knows your plan and how to raise the alarm if they are worried about your safety. In the UK there is also a coastguard scheme CG66 http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/mcga07-home/emergencyresponse/mcga-searchandrescue/cg66.htm called “The Voluntary Safety Identification Scheme” which is free of charge and you can leave the details of your plan with them.
- Your crew – You need to take into account their experience, their expectations, their health – are they suitably dressed and briefed.
- Your boat – Is it equipped to make such a passage, do you have the correct safety equipment and provisions aboard?
- Pilotage plan –for your departure and entry port - a drawn pilotage plan is much more easy to visualise (I will do a separate document to cover this in more detail).
What to use
Small Scale to create an overall picture and plan – to develop your route and ports of refuge.
Large Scale to focus in on hazards and port/marinas departures and entries
- Pilotage books and almanacs
- Electronic navigational aids such as Chart Plotters.
Checks before you leave
- Correct ships documents
- Spare parts
Please click here for a template of a passage plan.