If you are about to set sail on your first overnight excursion on an offshore boat, you have likely checked and re-checked your preparation list. There are some less-apparent preparations that you may not have even considered, though. Here are four frequently forgotten tips that can make your first offshore sailing adventure much easier.
Read Your Cell Phone Provider Agreement
Cell phones may be mobile, but that is no guarantee that you will be able to use your phone on your boating trip. Cell phones run on one of two different technologies: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) or Global System for Mobiles (GSM). In the United States, providers can offer service through either technology; however, most other countries use GSM technology. Thus, if you have a CDMA cell phone, you may not be able to use it in your destination port.
Even if you have a GSM phone, you should still contact your cell phone service provider before you set sail to another country. To avoid expensive pay-per-minute international calling fees, ask if your provider offers an international service package for both calling and internet.
Check Your Pets
If you plan to sail with pets, research the animal regulations imposed by your destination port's country. Most countries require foreign dog and cat owners to show proof of a veterinary inspection and up-to-date vaccinations before allowing animals into the borders. If you fail to adhere to these regulations, your pet may be quarantined during your stay.
Alternatively, you can keep your pets on your boat. If you plan to stay docked for more than a few days, however, doing so will inhibit your freedom to leave the boat and explore the country.
Remember Your Jacket!
If you are sailing in the summer waters of the Caribbean or other tropical region, you probably scoff at the thought of taking a jacket. Triple digit temperatures and a beaming sun will certainly reduce the frequency of jacket use, but there are still circumstances that warrant bringing one along.
Splashes, colder than anticipated temperatures, and surprise rainstorms can all leave you aching for a jacket. Invest in a quality waterproof one that will keep you both warm and dry.
Mind Your Footwear
Shoes can really scuff and scratch your sailboat deck. Even if you don't really care for the aesthetics of your boat's deck, you still need to be mindful of the shoes that you and your guests wear; the wrong shoes can pose a safety hazard.
"Smooth sailing" is not a guarantee. If you have never sailed in choppy waters or inclement weather, your first experience can sweep you off of your feet--literally. Furthermore, if you try to walk across a wet deck in traction-less shoes, you are bound to slip and fall. Skip the fancy heels and flip flops and opt for boating-specific deck shoes. These will preserve your deck's appearance and also give you more support and stability.