Successful sailing comes down to three factors: the scope of your knowledge, your ability on the water, and preparation. The latter is arguably the most important. How can you even begin to traverse continental oceans without a basic bearing? From route planners to nautical charts, this entry in the Seachest blog will look at the best ways to plan your passage for a sailing trip.

Know Your Destination

Passage planning is the act of pre-determining a ship’s journey - that’s every step of the journey! Your goal is to make sure the ships to every part of the required route, and this requires a rough estimate of the whole sailing process.

  • What kind of marine environment will you be sailing into?
  • What speed will you need to achieve your ETA?
  • What do you do if the ship is forced to deviate from the route?

Even when you have a rough plan, passage plans are often subject to further tweaking and modifications - usually in response to details from nautical charts, pilot books and weather routing.

Selecting a nautical chart is in essence a simple task. However, an experienced sailor needs to know which charts (at which scale) will benefit their route and destination. Mariners should look for the largest available scale nautical chart for to their particular needs. In notably dense seaways with regular amounts of large activity (e.g. the English Channel) the standard regulation nautical charts are supplemented by particular mariners routeing guides, which provide advice on route planning in these complex areas.

To help both experienced mariners and newcomers find the right chart right away, we recommend using Seachest’s own route planner. This lets you search any global destination, and instantly select a chart that fits your journey needs.

Skippers: Don’t Skip on the Paperwork

As the head of the boat, it’s your responsibility to gather and check all on board paperwork. Nine times out of ten, these documents won’t even be checked. However, if that tenth time ever comes and you’re missing something vital (passport, SSR registration, insurance certificate) then the legal and bureaucratic consequences will haunt you forever.

When planning passage for a specific location, you may require specific documents. In all circumstances, you will need the following:

Ship’s Registration Papers - required by International Maritime Law Crew list - Make sure you meet with all those aboard your boat, and attain complete passport data, relevant insurance documents, Visas (if required) and vaccination certificates. Radio licence - You’ll need one for the boat, and an operator's licence for at least one of the crew Clearance papers - from the last country visited VAT paid or VAT exempt certificate - when in the EU

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