This time of the year is usually an period of exciting activity in preparing our yachts to be launched, or sorting out those start of season glitches that only come to light once we have set out on the water. But this year, with the whole of the UK, and most of the world, in lockdown because of Covid 19, it’s a good time to reflect on what we can be doing to prepare ourselves for when we can finally get back on the water.
From armchair passage planning to hands-on servicing of outboards and other equipment let’s treat this as an unexpected bonus. There are a hundred and one small jobs that always get put off during the sailing season so this year let’s get them done. Here are a few suggestions for starters:
Are your charts up to date? I know we all use electronic versions these days, but there is nothing like the quality of information that you can get from a proper, paper Admiralty chart. But do we keep them corrected? You can download chart corrections for any Admiralty chart from their website – just search by chart number. And then get out your pen and violet ink and start getting them up to date. The rocks don’t move, but fish farms and wind farms pop up all over the place, and the buoyage is constantly being upgraded.
Do you have plans for a passage? If so, what better time that now to sit down with your almanac, charts and pilot books and work out exactly how you would undertake it? This could be large-scale passage planning where you look at open sea crossings, currents, passage times, departure and arrival points, traffic separation zones and major lights. Or it could be the intricacies of entering unfamiliar harbours and estuaries. It’s probably many years since some of us did any chartwork with dividers and chart-plotters, so make the most of this chance to re-visit those neglected skills.
How are your splicing skills and knotwork? The online chandleries like Jimmy Green, Force 4 and Marine Superstore are still open for business so why not order some new rope and make up those halyards, sheets, preventers and reefing lines that you know need replacing? And there are many online tutorials to show hou how to make soft shackles and other useful knick-knacks.
Are your electronics up to date? Many pieces of kit need regular updates to their operating software and there never seems time to attend to this during the sailing season. And electronic charts publish frequent updates that will ensure that you are getting accurate information from your chartplotters. Get them all up to date now.
And, finally, take the opportunity to look back over your previous seasons’ sailing. Why not put together that passage report that you have always promised yourself you would do, and look out all the old photos, chart entries, marina receipts and other empemera that will bring it to life. And then send it to the Association’s editor so that he can include it in the next Bulletin. After all, he will be a bit short of new stories this year…