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A Month At Sea: Before You Go

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The surest way to find out if the trawler lifestyle may be a fit for you, your spouse, and/or your family is to try it. But you don't have to wait until boarding your vessel to begin your preparations.

Whether you're going cruising for a week, 10 days, or a month, doing some homework in advance of your cruise is well worth the effort. It will heighten your expectations and add to the enjoyment of your adventure. Here are some steps you can take in the comfort of your living room, or in front of your computer, to prepare for your voyage.

  • Determine your cruising grounds and study the charts that cover them. Go to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's online site for chart viewing at Here, you can view all NOAA charts covering your chosen area.
  • Read Chapman Piloting & Seamanship to brush up on the Rules of the Road, general seamanship, piloting, and navigational skills.
  • Purchase a chart kit that covers the area you will be cruising and familiarize yourself with those waters. If you have a GPS, most chart kits have waypoints for prominent landmarks and aids to navigation that you can enter into your device before you leave home.
  • Just for the fun of it, go to satellite-imaging sites on the Internet and "travel" your chosen cruising grounds. You'll be amazed at what you can learn.
  • If you are new to powerboating, consider purchasing a book or two on the subject. Most major booksellers have entire sections devoted to powerboating. Stapleton's Powerboat Bible: The Complete Guide to Selection, Seamanship, and Cruising by Sid Stapleton is a good start.
  • Purchase or subscribe to PMM and read about all aspects of cruising under power and passagemaking.
  • Brush up on your piloting and navigational skills. Consider joining a local U.S. Power Squadron and taking the courses in seamanship and navigation.
  • Searching the Internet will lead you to many articles on powerboat handling. Some are so detailed, you'll think you're at the wheel.
  • Visit websites of trawler manufacturers and learn about different makes and models. If you know what vessel you will be chartering, you can learn its characteristics and capabilities, and maybe dream about yourself at the helm.
  • Find cruising guides for the area you'll be visiting. Familiarize yourself in advance with geography, amenities, and places of interest.
  • Ask your charter company for resources you can access. If you have never boated, consider a liveaboard course in basic piloting and seamanship. Learn from a pro and live aboard while you do so.