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Appendix VI – Offshore Checklist | Victor Shane's Drag Device Data Base

Appendix VI – Offshore Checklist

Use this handy suggestion list before putting out to sea, revising and adapting it as necessary.

Peace of Mind

  • Had the boat surveyed.
  • Hauled out, hull inspected and bottom painted.
  • Rudder checked.
  • Rudder fittings checked.
  • Steering cables & pulleys inspected.
  • Zincs checked.
  • Thru-hull fittings inspected.
  • Engine shaft, prop etc. inspected.
  • Batteries checked out.
  • Masthead, spreaders & rigging thoroughly inspected.
  • Ship's main compass checked and adjusted for deviation.


Offshore Necessities

  • Certified life raft.
  • Class A EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon).
  • Immersion suit.
  • Sea anchor & tether.
  • Drogue & tether.
  • GPS.
  • Autopilot.
  • Self steering - don't put out to sea without a good windvane!
  • Cockpit dodger (a must for cruising).
  • Emergency hand-pumped watermaker.
  • VHF radio.
  • SSB and/or Satellite phone (e.g. Iridium)
  • WeatherFax (or set up and test receiving weather info by SSB or Satellite).
  • Hydraulic wire cutters.
  • Calamity pack.

Sail Inventory

  • Heavy (6 oz. minimum) cruising mainsail near new.
  • Heavy working jib.
  • No. 1 & 2 Genoas.
  • Storm jib, near new - "the cheapest sail in the inventory, but the one you'll be needing most in heavy weather!"
  • Storm trysail on a separate track.
  • Drifter/spinnaker.
  • All sails - stitching, reef points & reefing systems checked by a sailmaker.
  • All running rigging, blocks & winches inspected & refurbished if necessary.


Safety Items

  • Hand-held VHF radio (better still, have two - one stored in the calamity pack).
  • Life jackets for all.
  • Safety harnesses for all.
  • Installed jack lines.
  • Whistles for the crew (make them wear it around their necks like dog tags).
  • Man O'r board flag, life ring or horseshoe, ready for the heaving.
  • Approved fire extinguishers in working order.
  • Flare gun and assorted flares.
  • Marker dye.
  • Horn.
  • Signal mirror.
  • Hand held strobe/s.
  • Running lights, spreader lights, navigation lights and masthead strobe checked.
  • Cyalume light sticks.
  • Assorted flashlights and spare batteries.
  • Watch & clock batteries.
  • Pumps, bailers, plastic and stainless steel buckets - "no better pump than a frightened sailor with a bucket in his hand!"
  • Dinghy, tender and paddles.
  • Boat hook.
  • Heaving line.
  • Boarding ladder.
  • Wooden plugs for thru-hull fitting.

Ground Tackle: Oversize!

  • Ship's reserve/storm anchor.
  • Ship's working bow anchor.
  • Ship's stern anchor.
  • Lunch hook.
  • Adequate lengths of anchor chain.
  • All told at least 600' of new nylon anchor rode, for various anchoring applications (can be segmented).
  • Related hardware.
  • Oversize mooring swivels, shackles etc. - don't forget to wire all of your shackles!! (don't use cable ties, as they deteriorate in sunlight)

First Aid
Consult your personal physician for your particular needs, special prescriptions/medications etc.

  • Bandages & bandaids.
  • Antiseptic cream and spray.
  • Eyewash.
  • Compress.
  • Inhalant.
  • Antacids and laxatives.
  • Codeine.
  • Analgesic.
  • Dramamine or other sea-sickness meds that WORK for you. Also consider taking them as suppositories (so you can take them even if you are throwing up). Scopolamine patches can also be applied after you are already seasick.
  • Vaseline.
  • Chapstick.
  • Sunscreen lotion.
  • Water purification tablets.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Scissors.
  • Tweezers.
  • Dental floss.
  • Oil of cloves.
  • Emergency dental kit.
  • Spare prescription glasses.

High Priority Items

  • Wet suit & diving weights.
  • Mask, snorkel & fins (need several pairs of spare straps for these).
  • Alarm clocks - TWO OF THEM!
  • Binoculars: be sure to purchase 7 x 50, or 10 x 50 optics as these have higher light gathering capacity.
  • Thick wool sweaters.
  • Foul weather gear.
  • Sailing boots.
  • Assorted parkas, jackets, gloves and items of clothing.
  • Plenty of hammocks to keep clothes high and dry.
  • Ski or Uvex storm goggles.


  • Ship's main compass.
  • Ship's backup compass.
  • Hand bearing compass.
  • Sextant (and know how to use it!).
  • Quartz watches.
  • Short wave receiver (to set the watches by, - tune to WWV, 5, 10, 15 and 20 Megahertz for the time ticks and listen in at 7 and 48 minutes after the hour for Atlantic and Pacific weather warnings.
  • Nautical almanac.
  • Reduction tables, etc.
  • Divider.
  • Parallel rulers.
  • Pens, pencils & erasers.
  • Ship's Log, note books and jotting paper.
  • Triangle.
  • Protractor, etc.
  • Coast Pilot (domestic).
  • Sailing Directions (foreign).
  • Charts.
  • Pilot Charts - shipping lanes and a great deal of other very useful information on Pilot Charts - ask for "Pilot Charts" by name.
  • Tide tables, etc.
  • Spare GPS. Another spare GPS. Many handheld GPS units can be interfaced with your laptop (loaded with charts such as OpenCPN) to provide a backup to your main chartplotter.

Tools, Tools, Tools

  • Assorted screwdrivers.
  • Assorted pliers.
  • Wrenches (both combination and socket).
  • Large Vise-Grips (Vise-Grip's cam action will cut through ¼" wire in 5 tries)
  • Small Vise-Grips.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Spanners.
  • Sparkplug wrench & gapper.
  • Allen wrenches.
  • Scratch awl.
  • Files.
  • Chisels.
  • Hammers.
  • Axe.
  • Crow bar.
  • Wood saw.
  • Hacksaw & blades.
  • Hand drill and bits - buy the very best.
  • Nicropress tool and assorted nicropress sleeves.
  • SS Rope clamps - 2 rope clamps will do the job of one nicropress.
  • Grommet kit & assorted fasteners (use hammer and board to install these on canvas & sails).
  • One extra large C-clamp.
  • Assorted nuts, bolts & nails.
  • Glass cloth & resin.
  • Epoxy resin.
  • Assorted glues.
  • Spare paints & thinner.
  • Brushes.
  • Scrapers.
  • Lacquer thinner (best all around solvent).
  • WD-40.
  • Silicone caulk.
  • Lot and lots of duct tape (you can repair sails with this stuff).
  • Stainless Steel wool.
  • Industrial razor blades.

Marine Items

  • Depth sounder.
  • Radio direction finder.
  • Barometer - don't put out to sea without a good one.
  • Anemometer.
  • Radar reflector.
  • Two masthead feathers (wind indicators) - keep one in reserve in case the other one gets blown off.
  • Bosun's chair and mast steps.
  • Cockpit awning for those hot days.
  • Spare winch handles.
  • Spare blocks.
  • Spare turnbuckles.
  • Assorted snaphooks, SS shackles & fasteners.
  • SS cotter pins - never use cotter rings, use cotter pins instead
  • SS Seizing wire.
  • Hose clamps.
  • Rigging knife & stone.
  • Sail repair kit.
  • Dacron scraps.
  • Assorted lines, cables, webbing, shock-chord, velcro.
  • Emergency underwater epoxy - don't put out to sea without at least a quart of Z-SPAR SPLASHZONE as this stuff can effect wet/dry repairs like nothing else can.
  • Book of knots.
  • Other marine books.


  • Crankcase/2-cycle and gear oils.
  • Grease.
  • Spark Plugs.
  • Spare filler cap wrenches.
  • Sheerpins.
  • Spare prop, shaft collars and related items.
  • Spare parts.
  • Filters, gaskets.Have enough oil and fuel filters for multiple changes at sea.
  • Diesel additives etc.


  • Rods, reels, hooks, lures, weights, gaff.
  • Large, three-prong grappling hook (also good for retrieving lost anchor lines, etc.)
  • Camera and lots of film.
  • Hats & spare Polaroid sun glasses.
  • Blankets, etc., including thermal "space blankets."
  • Tarps & shades.
  • Sandwich, zip-lock & garbage bags.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Aluminum foil - wrap some around a fender, hoist it up on a halyard and you've got an emergency radar reflector.
  • Drinking straws.
  • Waterproof matches & Bic lighters.
  • Candles & clothes pins.
  • Towels.
  • Paper towels.
  • Toilet items.
  • Toothpaste & brush.
  • Sea soap - else use liquid detergents.
  • Several Can openers.
  • Assorted scissors, large and small.
  • Propane, kerosene alcohol & other fuel for the stove.
  • Several stainless steel Thermos jars.
  • Mosquito netting & attire.
  • Thermal underwear & socks.
  • Hot water bottle & catalytic hand warmer.

Food & Sustenance

  • Fresh water (allow at least one gallon per person per day to be on the safe side).
  • Dehydrated and/or freeze-dried dinners, vegies, etc.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Tinned bread.
  • Butter/margarine (in plastic containers).
  • Cheese.
  • Spreads.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Honey.
  • Dried milk, oats, rice, potatoes, flour (sealed in double zip-lock bags).
  • Sugar, salt, pepper & spices.
  • Cookies.
  • Nuts.
  • Tea, coffee & cocoa.
  • Tang.
  • Canned goods (stew, beef, corned beef, chicken, spaghetti, sardines, soups etc.)
  • Eggs (raw, coat the shells with salad oil).
  • Bread (preservatives added).
  • Olive oil.
  • Potatoes & onions.
  • Vinegar.
  • Pickles.
  • Lots of lemons/juice.
  • Fresh fruits (lots of oranges) & vegetables.
  • Vitamins.
  • Mineral supplements.
  • Energy bars.
  • Chocolate - exceedingly good for the soul on a lonely watch at night.
  • Lifesavers & chewing gum.

Spare Parts

Go through every item on your boat and ask yourself "if this fails in the middle of the ocean is that going to be a problem". If the answer is yes, stock a spare part.
Don't Forget
To file a FLOAT PLAN with friends or relatives, to take along valid registration, passport, visas & documents, along with phone numbers, addresses, credit cards & travelers checks...


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Using Parachutes, Sea Anchors and Drogues to Cope with Heavy Weather – Over 130 Documented Case Histories