Preparing for Extended Cruising

10th June 2024

If you are new to extended cruising – more than a week or two into unknown waters – it can be a lot to take in with everything that needs to be done and learned. The combination of the internet, classes, podcasts, YouTube, and experienced boater friends has made it easier than ever to gain skills before heading out for extended cruising. And that is fantastic!

At the same time, the ready listing of all the skills you need for successful extended cruising, establishing a float plan, provisioning, meal planning, required boat maintenance and spares, and arranging home and mail care can require some time to prepare. In addition, add in the insurance company if you are planning on venturing north of Cape Caution or into international waters. If your plans include cruising afar there may be requirements for certifications and experience on similar sized boats in similar waters, and perhaps there may be a requirement that you have a captain aboard any time you leave the dock.

For most of us — who weren’t raised on cruising — deciding to go extended cruising for the first time can be an exciting adventure and a challenge as well.

So, how should we prepare? First, slow down a bit. Try to get rid of deadlines. If you’re trying to obtain a certification or two, take classes and get time on the water to practice what you have learned before you leave the dock, it may be too much and perhaps reassess your departure date. Space classes out. Absorb one before starting another. Extended cruising isn’t just about your dream destination, but about the journey.

When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do, pick one simple item and do it. Do something that should be an easy win. Getting just one thing done and crossed off the list will immediately raise your spirits. Tackle the big, tough projects on a day when you’re feeling ready to take on the world.

Start small. Plan some shorter day trips or weekend trips first and get to know what you really need for when you’re out cruising. Not only will you become more comfortable and confident in your boat operating abilities, you’ll also understand more about the type of cruising you want to do. Whether you’re the type of cruiser who enjoys anchoring for extended periods, or prefer to stop at marinas more often.

Talking to experienced boaters will also be helpful. Gain insights from their journeys, what are some of the items they keep on their boat for cruising? Or skills they find to be useful when going away for longer periods of time? Ask them about challenges they’ve had, and how they managed to overcome them.

Another great way to ease into extended cruising is to go together with a few boats in a “floatilla”. Having others embark on a journey together can bring ease of mind, and in case you did forget to bring something on your adventure, you can always reach out for help.

In the end, all of this is part of the process, and though it may seem foreign to you at first, take one step at a time and it can be very rewarding when you reach that dream destination.