Offshore Crew Briefing

Offshore sailing is great fun and exposes the crew to many wonders of nature, but it is not for the timid. We always look forward to calm seas, fair winds, sunny weather, good fishing, seeing all kinds of wildlife and  magnificent scenery.  However, at times it may be rougher, colder, windier, wetter and more tiresome than the crew would prefer. Additionally, Snug Harbor will be sailing to remote areas where medical and rescue services may be unavailable, rudimentary or days away.

Accordingly, it is critical that each member of the crew understand the importance of acting in ways that will protect their own personal safety, the safety of their crew mates and the physical integrity of Snug Harbor.  It is not rocket science, but if you haven’t sailed offshore on Snug Harbor before, then before we shove off, the captain will review the following with you:

Personal Safety – Rule # 1: Don’t Fall Overboard! 

  • Move slowly and carefully – be sure of your footing, balance and grip
  • Use tethers at night and during difficult conditions during the day
  • Use the heads to pee – it is easy to fall off when peeing over the side
  • Don’t leave the cockpit if you are the only one on deck
  • Life Jackets – worn at all times on-deck offshore
  • The boom is heavy and hard and can kill you or knock you off the boat if you stand on the cockpit seats
  • Cocktails are for when we get there, not while we are offshore

Standing Watch – Rule #2: Don’t hit anything with the boat!

  • Record Snug Harbor’s lattitude/longitude hourly in the log book
  • Be sure to use magnetic, rather than true bearings
  • Always wake up captain if you are on watch and unsure of what to do
  • Scan the horizon 360 degrees every 10 minutes for hazards
  • Use radar, AIS and or MARPA to confirm position and course of other vessels at night and in foggy conditions
  • Monitor channel 16 on VHF
  • Stay alert – Sleeping/Napping is for the offwatch – not for the crew driving the boat

Other Safety

  • Reef early, especially at night
  • Location of Seacocks – head sink seacocks must be closed underway – location of wooden plugs
  • Bilge pump locations – automatic pump 1 in bottom of bilge – automatic alarmed backup pump partway up bilge – manual pump at front of port cockpit lazarette (handle in compartment under  port bench seat)
  • Propane solonoids and shutoff – How to light stove
  • Single Sideband – Stay 6 ft from starboard backstay when in use
  • Review man overboard process for MOB and Crew


  • Chartplotter operation (menus, Navigation charts, AIS, MARPA, RADAR, RADAR chart overlay, Sirius weather, waypoints, data screens, routes, day/night brightness settings)
  • The chartplotter has two GPS antennas, one mounted on top of bimini and one internal to Chartplotter – default is the bimini antenna, if this fails the chartplotter’s internal gps antenna can be selected via the chartplotter’s set-up menus
  • Autopilot operation (standby, magnetic course, wind-vane course, course correction, remote control, rudder position indicator)

Folding Prop

  • If prop doesn’t feather after stopping engine – Rapidly shift into reverse and then back to neutral – if prop is not feathered you can hear prop shaft spinning in aft stateroom
  • Do not shift rapidly between forward and reverse as it could damage the prop. Always reduce speed to idle – then to neutral to let prop shaft stop spinning – then to reverse.


  • Navigation lights (red/green on bow/ white on stern) on when under way at night
  • Motoring light (white part way up front of mast) on only when motoring at night
  • Anchor light (white top of mast) on when anchored at night

Miscellaneous House Keeping

  • Conserve water (don’t let faucets/showers run, forward head uses saltwater, aft uses fresh, be sure to turn both shower faucets off when done rather than just the on/off button on the shower head)
  • Stove (solonoids, burner and oven lighting)
  • Nav Station controls and switches
  • Power conservation (minimize opening refrigerator/freezer, return cold items quickly, turn off inverter after use)
  • Do not turn off watermaker switch below forward berth or the automatic flush cycle will be interrupted
  • Put nothing in heads except human waste, 24” TP rule X 2

Clothing Recommendations

  • It will be cold and damp at night until we get most of the way down the coast of Baja. Bring warm clothes and foul weather gear – both jacket and pants – fleece is great for under layers
  • The more synthetic fabrics and the less cotton you bring the better – warmer when wet – dries faster – stinks less
  • Bring some sandals that cover your toes and attach securely to your feet (Keen makes great ones) and wear them – there are a million places to stub your toe on the boat. Also great for beach landings, wading and walking on the beach – much better than stepping on a critter or some glass and slashing your foot.
  • Do not bring a hard suitcase – there is no where to store it
  • Bring multiple hats and sun screen

Sail Mail

  • If we are in a remote area with no cell or internet access, then we can send and receive short text emails via our Single Sideband Radio.  This is a low bandwidth connection so we only can send and receive short text messages – absolutely no pictures.  The email address that you should be able to receive text only messages on is:

Abandon Ship

  • Flip red switches on SSB and VHF and make Mayday calls on SSB and VHF – (Mayday – Mayday – Mayday – this is the sailing vessel SNUG HARBOR) Be prepared to give Latitude/Longitude, number of crew, and status. Latitude/Longitude can be found on VHF Display or SSB display or Seatalk display at nav station or at top of chartplotter display in cockpit.
  • Lower aft boarding ladder
  • Grab yellow ditch bag from aft stateroom bulkhead
  • Grab portable VHF
  • Remove EPRIB from bracket above aft stateroom door – activate by flipping switch on top by 180 degrees
  • Remove life raft from starboard cockpit lazarette – deploy life raft over stern – tether is allready secured to hull – only after deployment off stern, pull on tether until raft starts inflating – Transfer crew, ditch bag, EPIRB, portable vhf and other items to life raft – tether EPIRB to life raft and put EPIRB in water –  once crew is in raft use “envelope opener” style knife attached to raft to cut tether – periodically make mayday call on VHF – do not swim away from raft without attaching yourself to the tether mounted to the left of the boarding ladder

4 thoughts on “Offshore Crew Briefing

  1. Hey Charley,
    I meant to tell you after you first e-mailed everyone about the blog that I immediately went to it and am very impressed with your organization. It looks great. I read the offshore briefing with great care and agree with everything.

    I was on Pepenino yesterday and pulled together my foul weather gear to bring up for the HaHa. I have everything ready to bring, including my safety harness, but I won’t be able to bring up my Sospenders because the CO2 cartridge won’t be allowed on the plane. Will you have an extra Sospenders on board for me to use? If not, I can bring my Sospenders without the CO2 cartridge and attempt to buy one at West Marine when I am up north. Please let me know.
    Saludos, Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      No need to bring your SOSpenders. I have plenty of them on board – also tethers. Also some spare CO2 cartridges on board if you prefer using your own jacket.

      Are you still planning to arrive in San Diego on Fri Oct 21? Mike and I plan to arrive Wed Oct 19. Justin arrives Sat Oct 22. Gary and Dorothy Wood will also be in town staying on their recently acquired Beneteau. On Sunday there is a Ha Ha Costume party/barbecue for the fleet. Good way to meet fellow cruisers. I am not much on costumes, but bring one if you like, or just wear the Snug Harbor T-Shirt I will have for you.


      • Hola Charley,

        Yes, United flight 0628 out of SFO arrives in San Diego at 12:21 p.m. on the 21st. I’ll take a taxi to the marina. By the way, what’s the name of the marina where Snug Harbor will be berthed?

        Glad to here that you’ve got me covered with Sospenders. The two I have on my boat are fairly old and take an older model CO2 cartridge. I think I might try to pick up a couple of spares when I’m down in SD or up at Mac’s place as long as I won’t be flying into Mexico, but I would like to borrow one from you for this trip. Less to carry up to Mac’s and down to SD.I’m not a costume guy either. I’d be proud to wear the Snug Harbor colors to the party.

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