Tricks and Tips of the trade that I have learned from my years of moving boats long distances to stay in the bite year round.
With the upcoming move South on my 60' Sportfishing Boat, EUPHORIA, I have been constantly checking weather, getting spare parts, checking everything twice on the boat, and more then ever, checking fuel prices at each port to make my most economical move choice. Also with Hurricane Nicole having impacted some marinas I frequent in Florida on my way south, I have been on the phone checking in on whats good and what isn't. With that I thought it would be good to share a few tips and tricks I have learned.
Before I dive deep into this, I did want to mention that I did a Course via Saltwater Euphoria Courses about this that is available at https://courses.saltwatereuphoria.com/courses/boatmoving for anyone to use. I go into much more detail and for the money is full of information to help make your long travels easier and safer.
Just a note that some links in this Blog are affiliate links on which I may make a small percentage on if bought. I do appreciate the support
My move is going to be from Great Egg Inlet, NJ to Florida and then continuing on through The Bahamas and finally settling down in the Southern Caribbean island of Curacao. But we are getting too far ahead of ourselves here. First thing is first, I need to make it to Florida first. Knowing your boat, what it can handle on the open seas, and what your fuel consumption is at certain speeds/RPMs is so important! With fuel prices being as high as they are, I opt to chug on most of my moves as it is the most economical for my boat. I always try to run for an hour at first light and last light and more often then not that is when it is calmest, especially in the Caribbean as the Tradewinds ease up just for a bit at those times.
A website I found to be very helpful is the waterways guide online https://www.waterwayguide.com/fuel-price-report/5 which tells you the marinas up and down the coast and all kinds of info including current fuel prices. This makes it pretty easy for you to make the best call along the way.
Map Out Your Route with Plan A, B, and C
With weather and boats, it is good to have 3 plans for your move. Boats break, we all know that, and knowing where you can bail out along the way in case you get in trouble is very important. A very cheap and easy security blanket is the Navionics App. If you own a boat, or ever use boats, this is a must have App that is very easy to use and inexpensive. Your GPS on your phone or iPad/tablet is always working even when you don't have cell service, so if you ever lose electronics, this can help you get home. It also is great for mapping out your course as well.
First Aid and Life Saving Devices
Safety First! This cannot be stressed enough!
Somehow this gets overlooked all too often. Lets start with simple Life Jackets. Life Jackets with strobe lights attached- (I know they can be a pain for storage but get the good offshore life jackets https://amzn.to/2L6pAV9 and strobe lights https://amzn.to/3pycjUC and you must have 1 per person on board that are USCG Approved). EPIRB (this is one of the better ones but there are many https://bit.ly/3nopM2R). Ditch Bag (this is what I have https://bit.ly/30GkZ4j - small enough to fit anywhere yet packs more than it seems). This is a kit that has nearly everything ready to go in the bag which is a great deal: https://bit.ly/30yw2N3
These are just a few of the things you needs but I felt were important to mention. Last but not least a very good offshore life raft that is up to date with inspections. Also, KNOW HOW TO DEPLOY YOUR LIFE RAFT. If you do not know, here is a great video that shows you how:
Life Raft deployment video:
Communication and a "Float Plan"
If you are traveling offshore and/or traveling long distances, truly you should have some sort of a Satellite communications device such as the Garmin InReach SAT Text machine, Iridium Go (https://amzn.to/353c8ZC), or some sort of Satellite Phone. I personally have and use the Garmin InReach Mini ( https://bit.ly/30FgjM4) and I love it***. I prefer the Mini to the larger Explorer since I do it all via bluetooth on my phone, BUT if you were to have an emergency and get separated from your phone, having the InReach Explorer (https://bit.ly/3kNCw1q) is good because you can still text and also use the charts on the Explorer. It is really amazing for when I am traveling long distances as you can set it up to have a link in your text message so whomever you text can click on the link and follow your track that is refreshed every 10-30 minutes. This is a very nice safety feature and a great way for friends and family to follow your travels.
Also, make sure your VHF radio(s) are working properly via. radio check from time to time. On top of that, you should let a few people know what your travel itinerary/plan looks like and keep them up to date. It's especially good to do this with someone who understands weather offshore in case you are out of cell service for a couple days you have someone you can communicate via satellite text or phone who can give you weather updates.
Be Sure Your Boat is Ready
You want your boat in peak condition at all times, but especially for long crossings. That overall is on you, but a few simple things you can do are:
Check all bilge pumps, float switches, and high water alarms. I also make sure to have a spare of each. My rule is for every two bilge pumps you have on your boat, you should have a 1 spare pump and 1 spare float switch. i.e: My boat has 6 bilge pumps so I carry 3 spares at all times.
Check all electronics and all DC batteries to make sure they are putting out the proper amount of DC power. I have a Victron Battery Monitor (https://amzn.to/3xZNLJ7) on my boat for the house batteries so I can always monitor them. This is nice because if I lose my generator, the Victron will tell me how many hours I have on my batteries given the current draw at that time. Nice for a scenario if my generator goes down.
Make sure you have plenty of spare parts and especially filters. Even more importantly, lots of fuel filters. One bad batch of fuel can make your trip a nightmare with ought a lot of fuel filters to get you through until you reach your destination.
While I can go on and on, these are some simple tips and tricks to live by for long crossing and boating travel. As I said, I have a whole course on this at Saltwater Euphoria Courses that many have found helpful. Lots of information in there for $49, so please check it out.