Please note that I haven’t updated this page much following the acquisition of Changabang, so it’s all generic stuff. I recommend reading through my blog though. It’s not much technical as there are plenty resources for the one who wants to get detailed technical information about certain aspects of the preparation; this blog is more about my journey.
Let’s talk about how to prepare a sailboat for a singlehanded circumnavigation. Experience has taught us that one can never be ready enough for an offshore passage. Why is that? It’s simple: the oceans can be very destructive. If the time it takes to complete the course or passage is significantly longer than the forecast horizon you’re never certain that no storm will hit you, nor can you really avoid them unless you’ve got one very fast boat. Depending on where you live and the time of year the forecast horizon could be as little as 1-2 days, or as long as 7-10 days. We’re planning for a circumnavigation, non-stop, solo, without external assistance, where we will cross hurricane zones during
In addition, in the interest of time and cost, we will have to make choices. We also lack experience, which is truly essential for this type of adventure. As a result, some corners will be cut, some things will be forgotten, omitted. It’s not going to be perfect. But let’s make it clear: luck is a significant factor in this kind of adventure. Some of the historical circumnavigations were completed in spite of some serious flaws (Sir Robin Knox Johnston’s boat had a leaking keel, the fixing of which required shooting a shark down; the hull of Webb Chiles’ boat was cracking open at the seam – seriously; in his sailboat circumnavigation aboard Gypsy Moth IV Sir Francis Chichester thought is boat of very poor design but he left anyway).
On the other hand, some very experienced skippers aboard professionally prepared sailboats did not come back. So, as was written somewhere else, planned for the worst, hope for the best, and cross your fingers!
With that out of the way, we will look at the preparation in several categories (each addressing the core items, replacement and repair strategies, required tools, etc.):
- Boat preparation, which includes everything that would be considered non-removable: hull, keel, rudder, spars (mast, boom, spreaders, etc), standing rigging, etc; for the sake of simplification we’re going to included sails and running rigging here;
- All equipment: engine, electronics, electrical systems, life raft, etc.;
- Navigation: everything that relates to navigation such as weather forecasts, charts, weather routing software, etc.;
- Human factors: food, water, mental preparation, training, medical preparedness, etc.
Common themes throughout this preparation will be S.P.A.R.:
- Simplify: if something is hard to do, it will not be done when tired and pressed for time; all systems operations and boat manoeuvers should simple to execute;
- Practice: it takes many repetitions to be able to execute any task;
one must be well prepared such that tiredness, stress, injuries won’t impede on the
- Attitude: there is nothing more powerful than a positive attitude; learning to cultivate one is intrinsic to the success of this adventure;
- Redundancy: things will fail, backup solutions will fail; there should be a back for the back up of everything, and the ability to repair everything.
So much planning! Are you ready for more?