Best Practices in Preparation for Ocean Voyaging


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Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Part XI:MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS

We also reviewed the contents of our first aid kit. On board our previous Sofia we had a commercial “offshore” kit. While this provided the basic requirements for everyday needs, a quick perusal for the internet revealed that it would require significant augmentation to be sufficient for ocean passages, where the time before proper medical assistance and treatment is available may be considerable. What we had hoped to find, but was not available at the time, was an authoritative list for ocean cruisers produced by an organisation such as the OCC, CA or RYA. At that time the choice lay between kits produced by the likes of Ocean Safety and Medical Support Offshore, which were primarily focused on commercial use and superyachts, on the one hand, and drawing on the lists of experienced ocean cruisers, a number of which were available, on the other. Given that the former was more comprehensive than we required and very expensive, we opted for the latter approach.

We found three examples of lists of the medical supplies required provided by experienced ocean cruisers and based our own list on them. As many of the items are classified in the UK as prescription drugs, we then had to obtain a doctor’s prescription for them. Although most GPs in the UK are not familiar with this situation, we were fortunate that our GP was prepared to issue a private prescription for them. Since our departure, we are glad to see that the OCC is now providing more definitive advice on medical kits for ocean passages in the Forum section of its public website.

Given the number of medical items that need storage, we have packaged them on the following basis. The first container contains day to day requirements such as plasters, aspirin and antiseptic ointment in our original first aid kit. The second set of containers of for emergency /specialist use and are clearly marked based on the type of treatment required; for example “burns”. Each container has a list of contents in the lid. The final container is for prescription drugs. We maintain a folder containing all the original prescriptions and have a printed list of prescription drugs. The latter is often required as part of the information required to clear in. Given that we have always been able to support the list with the original prescriptions, we have never experienced a problem. However, in certain countries, a prescription drug, which may be perfectly legal in the UK, may be illegal there. So it is always worth checking beforehand.

When it comes to replenishing prescription drugs, we found this to be a relatively straightforward procedure in Opua, New Zealand. Opua is the main port for ocean cruising yachts clearing both in and out of New Zealand. The local GPs are familiar in dealing with the requirements of visiting yachts and are very happy to authorise repeat prescriptions and if required additional prescriptions.

  

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Part XII: INSURANCE ISSUES

When we discussed our intention to undertake a circumnavigation with our existing insurers they told us that they did not provide cover for blue water cruising. When sounding out insurers at the Southampton Boat Show it quickly became apparent that most insurers in the UK do not provide this type of cover. The choice at the time in 2014 was limited to Pantaenius, Topsail and Admiral. We opted for Pantaenius as they have a flexible approach to premiums based on geographic location. For example when cruising across the Pacific premium rates are four times the rates applicable for UK waters. However, on reaching New Zealand premiums revert back to comparable UK rates. Pantaenius also offer a reduction on the excess payable in the event of a claim to members of the Cruising Association. We have found them to be very efficient and helpful in dealing with various enquiries throughout our circumnavigation and dealing with the one claim, which had as a result of partial rigging failure in the Pacific in 2015. The Lloyds surveyor, whom they appointed to assess our claim, told us that they were much the best insurance company he dealt with. Whichever insurance agent you choose to arrange your cover, the premiums are going to be substantial and constitute a significant element of your cruising budget and you need to make allowance accordingly.

As well as arranging cover for your yacht you need to arrange suitable travel insurance cover for yourselves. There are not many companies providing cover for 12 months spent overseas on a yacht. The most suitable cover we found was the Yachtsman Gold policy provided by Topsail. They have a close association with the Ocean Cruising Club and provide a 10% discount on premiums to their members. The cover provided is worldwide. However, an additional premium is payable for a visit to the USA due the the high cost of medical care there. Following a recent change of underwriter the duration of a visit to the USA is now limited to 89 days. Given that the normal length of visitors visa is 6 months, this restriction is far from convenient. That said, Topsail have dealt with the three claims made during our circumnavigation very efficiently and settled them promptly. In similar fashion to worldwide cover for yachts the premiums are expensive and increase significantly when one reaches the age of 65.
 

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Part XIII: PETS

When my mother died we inherited her fox terrier and debated at some length whether the dog should accompany us. However, our two-month test cruise in the summer of 2017, when she came along to see if this would work out, quickly revealed that taking her would have been for our benefit rather than hers. Therefore, we abandoned the idea. However, on our circumnavigation, we have encountered a number of cruisers who have been accompanied by their pets.

A number of points need to be borne in mind if you decide to go down this route. The first is to ensure that your pet is properly vaccinated, documented and chipped. The second is to appreciate that having a pet will significantly increase the bureaucracy and expense involved with clearing in and out of most countries and finally a number of countries will not allow you to visit if you have a pet on board. Even if one is allowed a pet on board in country restrictions will often not allow them ashore and if these conditions are breached then heavy fines can ensue. We know of one couple in Fiji, who had lost their cat ashore and were fined $1500 on departure.


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Daria Blackwell
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Part XIV: ON BOARD OFFICE

One of the most useful pieces of advice that we received from our OCC mentors was to ensure that Sofia was equipped with an on board office. Just as you have a study or the equivalent space at home ashore, you need the same capacity afloat when your yacht becomes your home for several years. We had not really thought about the need for a printer on board, but the small black and white printer, which we then acquired, has proved to be absolutely invaluable. It has been used countless times during our circumnavigation to print off copies of passports, clearance papers, crew lists and other documents. We do not have a printer/scanner as mobile telephones now have the capacity to photograph and send copies of documents.

In addition to the printer we have two laptop computers. One is used for navigation and downloading weather Grib files from the PACTOR modem. The other is used for office work and providing access to the internet when in harbour or coastal cruising. In addition both of us have iPads. With the ever increasing number of “apps” for navigation, weather and tides now available on iPads these devices are becoming increasingly useful for navigational planning.


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Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Part XV: SHORE-BASED CONSIDERATIONS

Arrangements for house and car

While a considerable amount of time needs to be devoted both to personal preparation and also preparing and equipping one’s yacht, one should not underestimate the time and effort involved in leaving your affairs back at home in order before one departs for foreign climes. Decisions need be made about what to do with your house and car. Many cruisers sell up or rent out their home while they are away. However, as our OCC mentors pointed this means that you have no home to return to in the event of either a family or medical emergency. Their firm advice was not to do so. We were minded to heed it but found ourselves in something of a quandary when our insurers informed us that they would not insure the property, if it was left unoccupied for more than 90 days.

Our solution to this problem was to find lodgers for our property. While a lodger’s agreement entitled them to a room in our home and we are fortunate in this respect in having a self-contained bedroom and bathroom in our basement, “de facto” they have had the use of the whole house while we are away. For us it means that we have the right to return to our home, if we need to do so and have the additional advantage of lodgers looking after our home while we are away. It is an arrangement that has proved to be mutually beneficial and we are fortunate that they have been model occupants. However, it should be noted that time needs to be set aside to find suitable lodgers, draw up a suitable lodgers agreement and brief them on the details of occupancy. For example how to operate the alarm, who to contact in the event of a problem with the property et cetera. We left them with a detailed printed aide memoir in this regard.

Given that we expected to be away for at least 4 to 5 years we decided to sell our car and were fortunate that the sale date coincided with our departure date. Had that not been the case we would have hired a car in the intervening period. We have also set aside funds to purchase a replacement on our return.

Mail and Personal Administration

Given that we did not want our lodgers to be flooded with our mail, we had to plan what should be done with it. Our first step was to go “paperless” wherever possible. Most banks, companies and organisations offer this option rather than sending out statements and circulars in hard copy. The advantage of the internet is that you can now keep track of bank, credit card and other statements wherever you happen to be in the world at the time. The second step was to notify family and friends; particularly those who regularly sent letters and Christmas cards not to do so until our return, but contact us by email instead. The third was to set up a “post restante” address for replacement bank and credit cards when they came up for renewal while we were away on our circumnavigation. We have used my sister in law’s address for this purpose.

Before we left we asked all our banks and credit card companies to extend the renewal date on our cards so that the renewal occurred after our return. However, only American Express were willing to do so. We have found that obtaining replacement bank and credit cards to be one of the more frustrating aspects of ocean cruising. In our experience postal systems around the world are neither timely nor efficient. In one case a credit card for me, which was sent registered mail to my cousin in Durban, somehow ended up in San Francisco! Needless to say it eventually arrived long after we had left. What has worked well for us is to use the OCC’s excellent worldwide port officer network to hold mail for us. That said, you need to allow plenty of time for postage and plan accordingly.


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Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Part XVI: FINANCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETS

Operating Budget

Working out an appropriate budget for ocean cruising will inevitably depend on personal circumstances and preferences. We decided to set up and operate two separate budgets each serviced by separate bank and credit card accounts. The first budget we termed the “Operating Budget”. This covered food, fuel, fees, moorings and entertainment, where outgoings occurred regularly on a monthly basis on the one hand and on the other communications, travel insurance and travel costs/flights where outgoings were much less frequent and appropriate funds could be set aside on a monthly basis.

Given that we wished to avoid foreign currency transaction costs wherever possible we researched the market for suitable bank and credit card companies where we would not incur these charges. In the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society we found a suitable bank and set up a current account for monthly transactions and a savings account to set aside funds for less frequent transactions. This arrangement worked very well until the Norwich and Peterborough decided to withdraw the provision of current accounts in 2017. We have now reverted to Barclays for this purpose given that it is extremely difficult to set up a brand new bank account in the UK from overseas and we already had joint accounts with them.

Our requirement for a suitable credit card company was met by the Post Office. We use it for the vast majority of purchases. Given the fact that Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems, which can handle both debit and credit card purchases, are now available worldwide; even in the more remote Pacific islands, it is no longer necessary to hold large amounts of cash on board. We are able to monitor transactions and the monthly statement online and pay off the monthly bill in full by this means.

Taken overall annual expenditure against the various headings in the Operating Budget has matched the available allocation, although on a month by month basis some cross-subsidisation inevitably has occurred.


Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget

The second budget we termed the “Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget”, which is serviced by Nationwide Building Society current, saving and credit card accounts. Foreign transaction costs are not applicable. This budget covers all items of expenditure relating to the yacht including insurance, regular maintenance items, annual haul outs, any in year repairs and equipment replacement costs.

Our original monthly allocation to cover this anticipated expenditure was in our opinion substantial given that Sofia and all her systems were in excellent condition before we set off. Even though the allocation has been increased during our circumnavigation we have continued to underestimate the level of expenditure required. This has largely arisen as a result of the requirement to replace big-ticket items such as the diesel generator and both Genoa and Mainsail during the circumnavigation, which we had not anticipated at the outset. The lesson learnt from this experience is that even if you have spent a substantial sum on preparing your yacht for a circumnavigation, you still need to set aside a sufficient contingency or reserve fund to cover unanticipated expenditure in addition to what you budget for anticipated maintenance and repairs. Owning a yacht is always a more expensive undertaking than you make allowance for; particularly when it is in use for 365 days a year!


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Philip Heaton
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Daria Blackwell - 6/19/2019
Part XVI: FINANCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETS

Operating Budget

Working out an appropriate budget for ocean cruising will inevitably depend on personal circumstances and preferences. We decided to set up and operate two separate budgets each serviced by separate bank and credit card accounts. The first budget we termed the “Operating Budget”. This covered food, fuel, fees, moorings and entertainment, where outgoings occurred regularly on a monthly basis on the one hand and on the other communications, travel insurance and travel costs/flights where outgoings were much less frequent and appropriate funds could be set aside on a monthly basis.

Given that we wished to avoid foreign currency transaction costs wherever possible we researched the market for suitable bank and credit card companies where we would not incur these charges. In the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society we found a suitable bank and set up a current account for monthly transactions and a savings account to set aside funds for less frequent transactions. This arrangement worked very well until the Norwich and Peterborough decided to withdraw the provision of current accounts in 2017. We have now reverted to Barclays for this purpose given that it is extremely difficult to set up a brand new bank account in the UK from overseas and we already had joint accounts with them.

Our requirement for a suitable credit card company was met by the Post Office. We use it for the vast majority of purchases. Given the fact that Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems, which can handle both debit and credit card purchases, are now available worldwide; even in the more remote Pacific islands, it is no longer necessary to hold large amounts of cash on board. We are able to monitor transactions and the monthly statement online and pay off the monthly bill in full by this means.

Taken overall annual expenditure against the various headings in the Operating Budget has matched the available allocation, although on a month by month basis some cross-subsidisation inevitably has occurred.


Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget

The second budget we termed the “Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget”, which is serviced by Nationwide Building Society current, saving and credit card accounts. Foreign transaction costs are not applicable. This budget covers all items of expenditure relating to the yacht including insurance, regular maintenance items, annual haul outs, any in year repairs and equipment replacement costs.

Our original monthly allocation to cover this anticipated expenditure was in our opinion substantial given that Sofia and all her systems were in excellent condition before we set off. Even though the allocation has been increased during our circumnavigation we have continued to underestimate the level of expenditure required. This has largely arisen as a result of the requirement to replace big-ticket items such as the diesel generator and both Genoa and Mainsail during the circumnavigation, which we had not anticipated at the outset. The lesson learnt from this experience is that even if you have spent a substantial sum on preparing your yacht for a circumnavigation, you still need to set aside a sufficient contingency or reserve fund to cover unanticipated expenditure in addition to what you budget for anticipated maintenance and repairs. Owning a yacht is always a more expensive undertaking than you make allowance for; particularly when it is in use for 365 days a year!

This is an excellent account and coincides with much of what Norma and I did in preparing for offshore sailing. We did not initially plan a circumnavigation, simply to join the Rallye Iles du Soleil to visit West Africa, Brazil and the Amazon - it was only after two years away in the Caribbean, USA and Canada that we decided to go on to the Pacific, so our planning and changes to equipment etc took place over a longer period.  However, it is fascinating that we pretty much ended up with the same views.  It is particularly helpful that the contribution of OCC mentors is highlighted as we are in the process if revitalising OCC Mentoring. A great account.
Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Philip Heaton - 6/19/2019
Daria Blackwell - 6/19/2019
Part XVI: FINANCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETS

Operating Budget

Working out an appropriate budget for ocean cruising will inevitably depend on personal circumstances and preferences. We decided to set up and operate two separate budgets each serviced by separate bank and credit card accounts. The first budget we termed the “Operating Budget”. This covered food, fuel, fees, moorings and entertainment, where outgoings occurred regularly on a monthly basis on the one hand and on the other communications, travel insurance and travel costs/flights where outgoings were much less frequent and appropriate funds could be set aside on a monthly basis.

Given that we wished to avoid foreign currency transaction costs wherever possible we researched the market for suitable bank and credit card companies where we would not incur these charges. In the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society we found a suitable bank and set up a current account for monthly transactions and a savings account to set aside funds for less frequent transactions. This arrangement worked very well until the Norwich and Peterborough decided to withdraw the provision of current accounts in 2017. We have now reverted to Barclays for this purpose given that it is extremely difficult to set up a brand new bank account in the UK from overseas and we already had joint accounts with them.

Our requirement for a suitable credit card company was met by the Post Office. We use it for the vast majority of purchases. Given the fact that Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems, which can handle both debit and credit card purchases, are now available worldwide; even in the more remote Pacific islands, it is no longer necessary to hold large amounts of cash on board. We are able to monitor transactions and the monthly statement online and pay off the monthly bill in full by this means.

Taken overall annual expenditure against the various headings in the Operating Budget has matched the available allocation, although on a month by month basis some cross-subsidisation inevitably has occurred.


Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget

The second budget we termed the “Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget”, which is serviced by Nationwide Building Society current, saving and credit card accounts. Foreign transaction costs are not applicable. This budget covers all items of expenditure relating to the yacht including insurance, regular maintenance items, annual haul outs, any in year repairs and equipment replacement costs.

Our original monthly allocation to cover this anticipated expenditure was in our opinion substantial given that Sofia and all her systems were in excellent condition before we set off. Even though the allocation has been increased during our circumnavigation we have continued to underestimate the level of expenditure required. This has largely arisen as a result of the requirement to replace big-ticket items such as the diesel generator and both Genoa and Mainsail during the circumnavigation, which we had not anticipated at the outset. The lesson learnt from this experience is that even if you have spent a substantial sum on preparing your yacht for a circumnavigation, you still need to set aside a sufficient contingency or reserve fund to cover unanticipated expenditure in addition to what you budget for anticipated maintenance and repairs. Owning a yacht is always a more expensive undertaking than you make allowance for; particularly when it is in use for 365 days a year!

This is an excellent account and coincides with much of what Norma and I did in preparing for offshore sailing. We did not initially plan a circumnavigation, simply to join the Rallye Iles du Soleil to visit West Africa, Brazil and the Amazon - it was only after two years away in the Caribbean, USA and Canada that we decided to go on to the Pacific, so our planning and changes to equipment etc took place over a longer period.  However, it is fascinating that we pretty much ended up with the same views.  It is particularly helpful that the contribution of OCC mentors is highlighted as we are in the process if revitalising OCC Mentoring. A great account.

Phil,  I was particularly encouraged by the report on Mentoring. It's the first I've heard feedback on that program. Maybe that's a clue to us.

Thanks Jonathan. A great start here.
 

Vice Commodore, OCC 
Dick
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Daria Blackwell - 6/19/2019
Philip Heaton - 6/19/2019
Daria Blackwell - 6/19/2019
Part XVI: FINANCIAL PLANNING AND BUDGETS

Operating Budget

Working out an appropriate budget for ocean cruising will inevitably depend on personal circumstances and preferences. We decided to set up and operate two separate budgets each serviced by separate bank and credit card accounts. The first budget we termed the “Operating Budget”. This covered food, fuel, fees, moorings and entertainment, where outgoings occurred regularly on a monthly basis on the one hand and on the other communications, travel insurance and travel costs/flights where outgoings were much less frequent and appropriate funds could be set aside on a monthly basis.

Given that we wished to avoid foreign currency transaction costs wherever possible we researched the market for suitable bank and credit card companies where we would not incur these charges. In the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society we found a suitable bank and set up a current account for monthly transactions and a savings account to set aside funds for less frequent transactions. This arrangement worked very well until the Norwich and Peterborough decided to withdraw the provision of current accounts in 2017. We have now reverted to Barclays for this purpose given that it is extremely difficult to set up a brand new bank account in the UK from overseas and we already had joint accounts with them.

Our requirement for a suitable credit card company was met by the Post Office. We use it for the vast majority of purchases. Given the fact that Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems, which can handle both debit and credit card purchases, are now available worldwide; even in the more remote Pacific islands, it is no longer necessary to hold large amounts of cash on board. We are able to monitor transactions and the monthly statement online and pay off the monthly bill in full by this means.

Taken overall annual expenditure against the various headings in the Operating Budget has matched the available allocation, although on a month by month basis some cross-subsidisation inevitably has occurred.


Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget

The second budget we termed the “Yacht Maintenance and Repair Budget”, which is serviced by Nationwide Building Society current, saving and credit card accounts. Foreign transaction costs are not applicable. This budget covers all items of expenditure relating to the yacht including insurance, regular maintenance items, annual haul outs, any in year repairs and equipment replacement costs.

Our original monthly allocation to cover this anticipated expenditure was in our opinion substantial given that Sofia and all her systems were in excellent condition before we set off. Even though the allocation has been increased during our circumnavigation we have continued to underestimate the level of expenditure required. This has largely arisen as a result of the requirement to replace big-ticket items such as the diesel generator and both Genoa and Mainsail during the circumnavigation, which we had not anticipated at the outset. The lesson learnt from this experience is that even if you have spent a substantial sum on preparing your yacht for a circumnavigation, you still need to set aside a sufficient contingency or reserve fund to cover unanticipated expenditure in addition to what you budget for anticipated maintenance and repairs. Owning a yacht is always a more expensive undertaking than you make allowance for; particularly when it is in use for 365 days a year!

This is an excellent account and coincides with much of what Norma and I did in preparing for offshore sailing. We did not initially plan a circumnavigation, simply to join the Rallye Iles du Soleil to visit West Africa, Brazil and the Amazon - it was only after two years away in the Caribbean, USA and Canada that we decided to go on to the Pacific, so our planning and changes to equipment etc took place over a longer period.  However, it is fascinating that we pretty much ended up with the same views.  It is particularly helpful that the contribution of OCC mentors is highlighted as we are in the process if revitalising OCC Mentoring. A great account.

Phil,  I was particularly encouraged by the report on Mentoring. It's the first I've heard feedback on that program. Maybe that's a clue to us.

Thanks Jonathan. A great start here.
 

Hi Daria,
I very much support this endeavor. Jonathan has done an extra-ordinary job of pulling together many of the important elements of such an endeavor and shared his solutions.
I will kick off his structure and suggest that a reasonable way to approach your wish to develop a “best practices” paper is to start with “Personal Training”: but shift the focus from the ambitious circumnavigation to preparations suggested for the skipper planning his/her first offshore passage. This seems a less daunting challenge. And by offshore passage, to my way of thinking, I mean any ocean passage where you are away from immediate help and beyond the time limit for expecting weather forecasts to hold relatively true. In other words, you are on your own and you must be prepared to deal with heavy weather. For me, the weather limit is 3-5 days which makes a round trip to the Azores for UK/EU boats a reasonable first offshore challenge and for US/CA based boats, a trip to Bermuda.
I think it not unreasonable to suggest that if you can do these passages, that many ocean passages will fall into place. I would probably concentrate on this preparation at first. Much of what Jonathan wrote was quite pertinent, but journey specific: circum-navigators need to think about water-makers. The skipper going to the Azores needs to think about water and its storage, but not about producing water. Subsequent “chapters” can deal with journey-specific suggestions for circumnavigating, high latitude sailing, the tropics etc.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Daria Blackwell
Daria Blackwell
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Dick,
I understand and agree with your thought there.It almost feels like more than a paper but rather  series of "handbooks" regarding stages in the evolution of an offshore sailor. We started with long coastal passages like from Norfolk to Montauk which taught us a great deal. Believe it or not, our first major ocean passage was across the N Atlantic from Halifax to Ireland. 

But we took pretty much all the same steps in securing knowledge and experience, setting up the boat, setting up systems for financial and medical management,  understandng insurance and so on. We were very methodical, and it's interesting to hear others' perspectives on the same.



.

Vice Commodore, OCC 
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