Preparing Medina

Medina is a fantastic boat and we love her. She is an Adams Radford design, 45ft, steel and yellow. The previous owners (David and Mary) were meticulous with the fit out and maintenance.

If she was a car, Medina would be like a Nissan Patrol or Toyota Landcruiser. Living and sailing a boat like Medina in Moreton Bay I often feel like I am driving a large 4WD around an affluent urban suburb. However, we are in the process of getting her ready so we can ‘go cruising’. This includes doing some internal fit out changes, installation of various equipment for increased self sufficiency and preparing ourselves as a crew.

So, how to prepare a boat and the crew (two adults and one toddler) for cruising? I am basing our preparation on numerous sources:

  • Books such as Yachting Australia’s Passage Making: Skipper or crew a cruising yacht on coastal and offshore passages and Jill Schinas Kids in the Cockpit: A pilot book for safe happy sailing with children;
  • Articles in magazines such as Cruising Helmsman and Sailing Outpost; and
  • Perhaps most importantly – experiences from others, either in person or on websites.

Footnote: The best place to buy ‘boaty’ books is http://www.boatbooks-aust.com.au they are fantastic and stock a fabulous range of books from the highly technical through to softer reads.

So although we have begin to achieve our dream – we have done our research on what boat to buy, saved up to buy the boat, purchased the boat, moved on to the boat and are used to living on the boat as a family (big first steps according to the experts). All this has taken us 9 years we are only now starting to get into the details.

As the skipper is still working full time, I have taken on the responsibility of getting Medina and ourselves ready to go. I need to learn everything from knowing if we have a stuffing box seal or a deep-sea seal, games to keep Orbit entertained after we’ve been sailing to windward for numerous days, developing fatigue management strategies and emergency planning. We also need to polish up existing skills such as navigation, using the radio (HF and VHF) etc. There is a lot to do!

It is easy to silo information between the skipper and the crew, however, when there is only two adults, this is not possible. I will need to test myself and learn new things so if something was to happen to the Skipper (touch wood it doesn’t) I am able to get us to a safe harbor and to get help to us. To quote Yachting Australia (warning reality check)-

Offshore, your boat is far from a safe haven. Even on a passage that is expected to take a week or less, good weather cannot be ordered up with any certainty. Crews must deal with the conditions outside their control in a seamanlike manner. They must accept fair and foul with stoicism.

In an emergency, it can be days before help arrives, if it comes at all. Therefore offshore sailors and their yacht must be self-sufficient, self-reliant and able to deal with all eventualities using their own resources. This philosophy is essential to offshore passagemaking. It is not always easy to live by, but when observed, the rewards for the offshore sailor can be grand indeed.

The prior preparation is a key element to rewarding cruising, which is made up of countless passages. So I’ll be collating and following advice over the next 6 to 12 months and will let you know the lessons learnt, the good the bad, the funny and hopefully no one gets hurt.