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Old 03-07-2017, 02:48 PM   #1
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Cruise planning - What do you do?

Hi TFers!
While thinking about my next cruise a question came to my sick mind.
What are you doing when planning a cruise? I mean what information are you taking in note?
If I plan to cruise from A to B, I will take note of all stop I plan to make, create cruise segments if it is a multi day cruise, I will evaluate the time needed between all these stops, evaluate fuel burn etc.

What about you? I would be interested in learning about the kind of information you seek for and take in note?

Regards,

L.
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Old 03-07-2017, 03:07 PM   #2
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Our preferred cruising is to run during the day for no more than 6-8 hrs, preferably less, anchor (preferred) or dock for the night, or perhaps multiple nights. So it's day hopping. I think this is how the vast majority of TF members cruise.

We will typically have a broad agenda, like we want to be in location X by a certain date. And I will have figured out about how many days that will take, then added in some fluff so we aren't pressed for time. That gives us a framework.

From there, we seldom plan more than 1-2 days ahead. Often times, we will anchor for the night, and that evening or possibly the next morning we will figure out where to go next. In some areas where stopping places are less abundant, or where tides and currents force certain timing, we might plan out a few days ahead.

As for fuel, we carry a lot so fuel stops are pretty much never a concern. For the past few years I have been filling up twice a year, once in the winter, and then a top up mid summer. On our Grand Banks we had to pay much more attention to fuel.

For a long passage it's different. We will plot the route in advance, or at least know how long it is so we know whether fuel is a factor. When we ran from So Cal to Seattle, we figured the distance and calculated that we wouldn't need fuel even running fast, then that was the last thought we gave to it. For a crossing that will come close to exhausting fuel, or where speed needs to be regulated to ensure you get there, we would study the whole thing much more carefully. Aside from fuel, on longer passages it's more about understanding bail out points, and whether there are weather restrictions on when you can get into those ports. That's important so you don't wait too long to bail out, and find the port is closed. But this type of cruising a a very small percentage.
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Old 03-07-2017, 03:11 PM   #3
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Like you I will try and determine likely stops along the way. These are selected based on the time between stops, the services available, what is of interest in that location, likely availability of moorage, Tides and currents enroute. In certain places I will also look for alternative routes or schedules in case of bad weather.

For me, there are generally only several bodies of water where there is much concern about weather and conditions, Juan de Fuca Strait, Georgia Strait, and Rosario Strait. Most everywhere else typical bad weather can make it unpleasant but not necessarily dangerous. So I try to plan around those crossings.
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:11 AM   #4
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As a professional pilot, by nature I do a lot of planning and I'm always tinkering with it.

I start off with a rough plan on a spreadsheet then move to active captain to see what the distances are. Almost all of my fuel stops and marina stays come from the AC reviews. Distances, time to travel, fuel burned, marina locations and costs as well as fuel costs are all tabs on the list.

A normal cruise day for me is around 6 hours at 8kts with stops at various islands along the way to let the kids swim.

For our longer trips we stay at Marinas that have have a pool so the kids can be off the boat for a bit and the wife and I can have some down time from them.
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:18 AM   #5
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On the AICW we listen to the weather report as in high winds some bridges will refuse to open.

If its going to be breezy we check the chart to actually see if there are low bridges that are a problem.

LUCY air draft 12ft , so some days are fine.

Sailing offshore avoiding a big weather event is nice but our 90/90 takes 6-7 days,

so some snot is to be expected , esp in November.
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:32 AM   #6
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We decide which direction we are going (north or south) and how far we want to go. We have no set schedule, but an approximate date to return home by (doctors appointments, etc.) We decide what towns, cities, and attractions we want to visit along the way. I plan the actual routes in Garmin Homeport and copy them onto SD cards for the Garmin plotters.

We often start out with a ten hour day just because of our home location, but after that we usually shorten the day's runs to just a few hours, seldom more than seven. We typically make most decisions the day before on where to go next. Fuel and groceries come into play.


We have our computer and Internet access along the way so Active Captain and marina websites are a big help once we leave home.
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Old 03-08-2017, 10:41 AM   #7
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Most of my cruises are multi-day fishing trips, often to offshore waters with only a general idea of where we are going, and usually without any opportunity to pull into port, let alone anchor. When we get in the "zone", we start fishing. If we start catching, we stay put, if not, we keep moving until we find fish. At night, we either throw out the sea anchor, if we are already where we want to begin fishing the next day, or we travel through the night at a speed intended to put us exactly where we want to be at the crack of dawn. Sometimes, we find that we are close enough to an island to anchor up for the night, but generally we won't anchor unless we arrive before sunset. As for food planning, we don't give it a lot of thought. We get the basics (steak, chicken, eggs, sausages, bread, coffee and beer) and menu plan along the way.
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Old 03-08-2017, 11:35 AM   #8
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My cruising is generally 1-5 day trips on LI Sound. I use Active Captain in Live Map mode (not available for tablets running Android or iOS) to see the big picture. Then I use the path feature to lay out a route with multiple segments and turns and see the length. Time in route is NM/7 on average. If it is a place that I will probably visit more than once, I save it to an Active Captain route, so I can bring it up later.

While laying out the segments in AC, I zoom in sufficiently for each leg to make sure I am in deep enough water and if necessary move the segments to avoid shoals.

Then a day or so before the trip, if it is significant like through The Race, I check the current for the time of day I am expecting to transit. I might move up my departure or delay it if the current is significant, or maybe chose another route like Fishers Island Sound to avoid the worst of it.

I have never bothered to download the route to my boat's chartplotter or a handheld tablet, but that is possible with AC saved routes.

So, how do I navigate once underway. I don't follow waypoints. I just point the boat approximately where the next waypoint is and look at the chartplotter's course arrow. Then I adjust heading to make the arrow line up. If it is a long way away, I will move the cursor to the next waypoint (not an actual one, just one in my mind- usually a bouy or shoal edge that I saw when planning the trip. I check the course to cursor and then adjust the autopilot so the course made good matches within a few degrees. I much prefer this manual control than slavishly following waypoints plugged in to the chartplotter.

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Old 03-08-2017, 11:49 AM   #9
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As a follow up to my PP, let me tell a story about a guy with a new boat in Maine. We were part of a yacht club group that was doing their summer cruise. We all left within an hour of each other each morning to get to the next mooring spot.

My friend who had a brand new Island Packet with what at the time (20 years ago) was a state of the art chartplotter integrated with his autopilot. He spent almost an hour before each trip slavishly (I like that word a lot) entering waypoints. There were a couple of dozen way points for a 20-30 mile cruise. Maine has a lot of islands, rocks and ledges and this was in the Merchants Row area.

We usually left before him. Since we only had a handheld Garmin GPS and paper charts, we just looked at the chart, approximated the course and then looked up to find the next buoy. We leapfrogged from buoy to buoy until we got to our destination, always confident that we were in deep water.

An hour or so later we heard from our friend. He was hard aground on a ledge and was calling the other members for help. He had missed entering one of his waypoints and his chartplotter/autopilot dutifully made the turn into shallow water.

No real harm was done, but it taught us all a valuable lesson.

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Old 03-08-2017, 01:32 PM   #10
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I'm not naturally a planner so do as little as possible.

But Chris is definitely a planner. So I do more planing than otherwise.

Still we "plan" to go to a specific spot or area but variations are always handy.
I use to buddy boat w a friend that was a planner and he was always on a straight course from waypoint to waypoint. I seldon followed him like military aircraft. I was all over the place and could do that as I/we traveled at 8.5 knots and he always went 6. I could cross a channel for 10 min and come back again w/o getting behind. He lectured me frequently about my loose navagation and thought going 8 knots was stupid. However we were friends and mostly enjoyed our differences.

In my defense I think flexability is positive for having the most fun and staying safe. ........ "So do ya wanna stay here another day or move on and speaking of that do ya really wanna go to ________?"
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Old 03-08-2017, 01:47 PM   #11
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We keep it general as we can. Try not to plan more than a couple days at a time. Move on good weather. Hole up in bad. Normal retired stuff.
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Old 03-08-2017, 02:02 PM   #12
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We decide which direction we are going (north or south) and how far we want to go. We have no set schedule, but an approximate date to return home by (doctors appointments, etc.) We decide what towns, cities, and attractions we want to visit along the way. I plan the actual routes in Garmin Homeport and copy them onto SD cards for the Garmin plotters.

We often start out with a ten hour day just because of our home location, but after that we usually shorten the day's runs to just a few hours, seldom more than seven. We typically make most decisions the day before on where to go next.
Same. Plan on Homeport, transfer to sd cards. but it's just a plan. if weather comes up we stay longer. If we like the spot we stay longer. I also have navionics on my ipad. If I have to duck into a strange harbor with narrow sparsely marked channels I can plot a route in seconds on navionics.

Not much rhyme or reason to stops. If we're going from Boston to Block Island, we might make our first stop in Scituate because we like the restaurants. Very quick trip. Might decide to head directly to Plymouth. Longer day. Might go for broke and head for Cape Cad Canal. Very long day. Rough seas might dictate a shorter day. We carry enough food, fuel, and water so it doesn't influence our planning.
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Old 03-08-2017, 04:24 PM   #13
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Things change so its hard to make inflexible plans ahead of time. We make a general outline of direction and distance we wish to travel over the next few days. If I am not familiar with the area I read about the region and check charts looking for potential dangers anchorages and marinas. Each day on the previous evening I do a more detailed tide and current and chart check and select short medium and longer potential end points to the days travel. I determine what time we need to leave I do a weather check and follow up with another in the morning. If something is not right we modify our plans with staying put the max modification. If things are a go we set out knowing we might have to be flexible and change while under way. We do not like having deadlines and the need to be at one specific place at a given time and have found that to be the cause of situations of discomfort if not outright danger.
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Old 03-08-2017, 05:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
Our preferred cruising is to run during the day for no more than 6-8 hrs, preferably less, anchor (preferred) or dock for the night, or perhaps multiple nights. So it's day hopping. I think this is how the vast majority of TF members cruise.

We will typically have a broad agenda, like we want to be in location X by a certain date. And I will have figured out about how many days that will take, then added in some fluff so we aren't pressed for time. That gives us a framework.

From there, we seldom plan more than 1-2 days ahead. Often times, we will anchor for the night, and that evening or possibly the next morning we will figure out where to go next. In some areas where stopping places are less abundant, or where tides and currents force certain timing, we might plan out a few days ahead.

As for fuel, we carry a lot so fuel stops are pretty much never a concern. For the past few years I have been filling up twice a year, once in the winter, and then a top up mid summer. On our Grand Banks we had to pay much more attention to fuel.

For a long passage it's different. We will plot the route in advance, or at least know how long it is so we know whether fuel is a factor. When we ran from So Cal to Seattle, we figured the distance and calculated that we wouldn't need fuel even running fast, then that was the last thought we gave to it. For a crossing that will come close to exhausting fuel, or where speed needs to be regulated to ensure you get there, we would study the whole thing much more carefully. Aside from fuel, on longer passages it's more about understanding bail out points, and whether there are weather restrictions on when you can get into those ports. That's important so you don't wait too long to bail out, and find the port is closed. But this type of cruising a a very small percentage.
This is my general approach as well. The short term decisions are all weather related - SE Trade winds dominate in the cruising season on the Great Barrier Reef, but there are days when it is calm or winds from other directions. There is generally a NE-SW tidal flow as well. With the wind and the tides care and a guidebook is needed to find an acceptable overnight anchorage. Active Captain is incomplete and inaccurate, basically its useless over here.
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Old 03-08-2017, 06:04 PM   #15
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I'm one who is a planner to the "n-th" degree. I find that plannng for a trip is almost as enjoyable as taking the trip.


An example: We're planning for a 3-4 month trip that will take us down the Columbia to the Pacific coast, up the coast of WA, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca then into the South Sound areas, San Juans and up into the Gulf Islands of Canada.


I have an Excel workbook that has pages for:
-mileages from our yacht club to Ilwaco, Or at the mouth of the river, with all ports/marinas in between
-the same for the area between the mouth of the Columbia to Neah Bay and Anacortes and Tacoma
-the same for the areas between Tacoma and Port Hardy
-one sheet with radio call signs for all the dams and bridges between here and the coast
-one sheet with lists of provisions and what is allowed into Canada


Am I anal about it? You bet. Do I have a lot of fun doing it? Absolutely.


As far as cruising goes, we generally have an idea of where we want to be on a certain date but those are definitely not chipped in concrete. We usually plan our stops a day ahead but those are always subject to change depending on weather and whether or not we want to stay an extra day in an area.


For me, boating is all about the fun and that fun definitely includes my planning fun.


sign me: Anal GFC
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Old 03-08-2017, 07:54 PM   #16
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My last tip from Adelaide to Port Lincoln required more than my usual planning requirements. We had a 2-week window for a 500nm round trip, anchoring out on all but 2 nights in very isolated anchorages.

Everything was dependent on the weather, so I had to work out a plan for every weather scenario. Every anchorage was only safe in certain conditions, so the course, speed, and stops couldn't be finalized until the day of travel and morning weather check.

Having options already worked out for the changing weather really made the trip stress free. We were tested with 25 knot winds and breaking seas coming home, but knew where there was a protected anchorage in those conditions.

Planning also includes making sure the boat is ready for the trip, and having the suitable tools and spare parts. Since we have no Sea Tow service around here, I overstocked on tools and parts. Because of that I didn't need to use anything but a screwdriver.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:02 PM   #17
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We do not plan so much in advance, tried to keep navigation no more than 48 hs out in the ocean, weather have the last word and when we feel we want to stop, we just point to the next marina or port unless we're so far out coast (more than 50 miles). Very lazy way to cruise, no pressure, no time check...
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:37 PM   #18
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My plan is deciding where I want to go and then start to head there. I make no schedules as I find trying to keep those schedules is when problems arise. Cruising should be relaxing, let it be.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:43 PM   #19
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This year I am doing something a little different. As I am reading my Douglass travel guides and I find a anchorage that has good protection from wind and a suitable bottom, I put the coordinates in my Nobeltec and place a anchor mark on my chart. I'm not necessarily planning on stopping at all these places, but as I am traveling I can see at a glance where the closest safe anchorage is.
I think I will change the color of the mark if and when I stay at a place.
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Old 03-08-2017, 09:42 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by eyschulman View Post
Things change so its hard to make inflexible plans ahead of time. We make a general outline of direction and distance we wish to travel over the next few days. If I am not familiar with the area I read about the region and check charts looking for potential dangers anchorages and marinas. Each day on the previous evening I do a more detailed tide and current and chart check and select short medium and longer potential end points to the days travel. I determine what time we need to leave I do a weather check and follow up with another in the morning. If something is not right we modify our plans with staying put the max modification. If things are a go we set out knowing we might have to be flexible and change while under way. We do not like having deadlines and the need to be at one specific place at a given time and have found that to be the cause of situations of discomfort if not outright danger.
We do the same with a few modifications. I use Coastal Explorer to lay down a route, then transfer that to my MFD. We also plan on a plan B and plan C if things get soured. Having the route helps if we hit fog and if the Admiral captains the boat. We try to be on the hook by 1-2PM before the winds start. Weather was the biggest issue for us. We had a simple rule, either me or the Admiral could veto the departure due to weather, no questions asked.....
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