Getting ready to sail offshore

Published on August 11th, 2022

by George Day, Blue Water Sailing
I am planning to sail south to the Caribbean from Newport, RI on a friend’s 47-foot sloop this fall so I got out my offshore gear over the weekend to see if I had what I will need. It’s been three years since my last ocean passage and batteries can expire and things can go missing in that interval.

My three-year-old Gill foul weather gear looks good as new. My sea boots are old and look their age, but I think I can get one more passage out of them. The Musto PFD – harness and tether look fine but I think I’ll replace the cartridge and bring a spare. Wool watch cap and ski gloves for the first few days from Newport when it can be cold, check.

The boat is very well equipped and has many thousands of miles on her and her skipper is seasoned and vigilant. Still, I think I’ll bring my hand-held GPS and download the Navionics charts and a current Gulf Stream chart to my tablet. Redundancy offshore is important. And then there is the personal locator beacon.

I have an ACR PLB that functions on the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system. That means if I go over the side the international rescue network will know where I am right away but the skipper of the boat won’t. The newer AIS enabled PLBs, known as Personal AIS Beacons (PABs), broadcast a VHF signal that can be seen on any vessel’s AIS linked multifunction display within about four miles. It also has a strobe light.

So, if there is one gear item that needs an upgrade this year, I think it will be to add a PAB to my harness. Just in case.

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