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Heading offshore? Do you know what you don't know?

by Down Under Rally 2 Nov 2019 02:30 UTC
All the elements you need to make safe and enjoyable passages. © Down Under Rally

Along with the rewards that come with having made a multiday/night ocean passage and arrived in a new country, the prospect of discovering new cruising grounds and having new experiences there are also some unique challenges.

In fact the prospect of spending several days sailing across an ocean whilst exciting can also be a daunting prospect and rightly so.

In this day and age there are few places in the world where you can be so isolated and the need to be self-sufficient and prepared so critical.

The key to making the whole experience a safe and enjoyable one can be summed up in one word PREPARATION.

Over the past five years the Down Under Rally has assisted more than 100 vessels and crews prepare for and successfully make their first ocean crossing. In addition to their Offshore Cruising Preparation Course, the Down Under Rally is also holding information sessions in February of 2020 about venturing into the South Pacific as part of one of their rallies.

The most common thing these people have said after the fact is: “We didn’t know what we didn’t know”

Sadly this is often the reason vessels and their crew find themselves in life threatening situations. They simply were unaware and as such unprepared for the challenges they face in an emergency situation. Further more they are unaware of what could have been done to prevent their vessel and themselves from being in the situation at all.

The end result of such poor preparation can be and is often life threatening not just for the crew but also for those who try to assist and or rescue the crewmembers of the stricken vessel.

Knowing what to expect and how to prepare for, or better still avoid situations and events, that can range from uncomfortable to life threatening is a critical part of the preparation for such a voyage.

Offshore sailing and cruising is very different to costal sailing and cruising. The demands on vessel and crew are considerable and the nearest landfall may be several days away. It is therefore essential to know what the differences are and how to prepare both vessel and crew for not only the voyage but also making landfall in a foreign country and cruising in an unfamiliar location.

The Down Under Rally believes that all those who are looking to venture offshore should attend courses such as their Offshore Cruising Preparation Course.

The Down Under Rally Offshore Cruising Preparation Course takes place over two days and covers a range of subjects that includes:

• Preparing the Vessel and Crew for sailing offshore and extended cruising.
• Understating Weather forecasting and weather routing
• Passage Planning and Passage Management
• Offshore and at sea communication methods
• Departure & Arrival formalities
• Emergency procedures
• Medical Kits and medicines
• Insurance: Vessel and Travel
• Sharing and staying sane in small spaces
• And much more.

The goal of these courses is to make those who attend aware of what can happen “out there” and how to preferably avoid, but also be prepare for and to know how to manage the situation should an emergency arise.

This course has been credited with saving the life of the crew of a vessel that was lost off New Caledonia in September 2019.

The master of that vessel and his first mate attended the course in December 2019 and then diligently went about implementing all the recommendations that were made. “Without a doubt the two day course I did with yourself and Leanne back in December 2018 at RMYC, really assisted in my preparations for the boat, and saved our lives. I would without doubt or hesitation recommend everyone at least do the course, there is a lot to think about for preparation, and things happen so quickly in these situations.” Chris Doran owner and master of the vessel Liberty III lost off New Caledonia September 2019

The full story of how the vessel was lost and the subsequent rescue of the crew can be read here.

Another common comment that is made by many who have attended the course: “Attending this course has saved me far more than it cost to attend and is one of the best investments we have made to date”.

In February 202O Australian adventurer, keynote speaker and multi-world record holding sailor Lisa Blair is co-presenting with the Down Under Rally organisers for their Offshore Cruising Preparation Course & Emergency Procedures Workshop

The Down Under Rally organisers will be sharing the lessons they have learned as cruising sailors over the past 10 years and 30,000 plus ocean miles.

Lisa will be sharing the wealth of knowledge that has come from the many thousands of ocean miles she has sailed and the many challenges she has faced and overcome including the dismasting of her vessel when she was single handing in storm conditions more than 1000nm from the nearest land fall.

The courses are being held in February 2020 on the Gold Coast in Queensland and in Newport, New South Wales. Due to venues sizes numbers are limited.

For full details about the course content, presenters and ticketing visit the following page of the Down Under Rally website

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