I never realised how much planning would be needed for this trip. Pre and post departure it’s been a part of our lives now for years and is without end.
A part of me enjoys the process. It’s a way to see what’s coming and get excited about the destinations ahead. Sometimes I want to run and hide from it as time runs out, stress kicks in, and the pieces won’t seem to fit no mater how you try.
I’d like to think we’re getting better at it as this trip progresses but there are so many variables that some days all you seem to do is have your head in a pilot guide or on the Web (if you’re lucky enough to have a good connection).
There’s a huge lack of information at times, sure the pilots do their best but half the time they’re out of date before you leave the shop, and resources such as Active Captain and forums help but then just as you think you’re on the home stretch some new info is found and it’s back to the drawing board.
So what’s our process?
1. Go to a bar with a laptop and rough out (and I mean rough) the next few weeks in OpenCPN using the pilots and the web. If you’ve done this step correctly you should have loads of routes, boxes drawn on exciting places and good looking anchorages. The bar part is essential as it allows you to chill out and enjoy the task focusing on all the great times coming your way, that’s our excuse anyhow.
2. Start gathering more detailed info for places you’ve roughed in. We search until our fingers bleed, forum threads are created when there are holes, I try using active captain but it’s not that great for the Med, pilot books are read, and re-read, etc.
3. Start to cross reference everything. Now this is where the fun really starts. Anchorages in the pilots with ‘poor holding’ are suddenly referred to as ‘5 star holding, perfect!’ on active captain. The same marina can be called five different things depending on where you look at and can range from ‘construction underway’ to ‘established family run setup’. You also work out at this point that a berth will cost roughly between €25 to €190 depending on who you wish to believe.
4. Go round in circles for a few days.
5. Crack the shits with it all and take your best shot. Get the boat ready and check the weather one last time…
6. See that a huge front has rolled in making half the anchorages you planned impossible. Go back to step 2. Do not collect £200.
Ok it’s not always like that but at times it really does ones head in. We look sometimes at other yachties and wonder if they plan as much as we do? How come they are sat reading on deck sipping inviting looking drinks while we’re waiting for Google earth to load a page at sub sat phone speeds?
Maybe we’re just rubbish at it? Maybe we just like knowing that when we do leave the dock we have a damn good idea of what’s in store.
Either way, the planning side of things is something that’s a part of our daily lives now, a part bigger than we expected.
Right back to the planning, do they really mean ‘day anchorage only in calm weather in very bad holding’ or should we overnight there and see what happens?