How does one prepare for an experience, the likes of which one has never had; an experience that, if unprepared for, might end in disaster? Luckily, we didn't have to "reinvent the wheel": we're not the first people to go cruising.
We read book and articles, researched on-line, and talked to anyone and everyone who could give us help and ideas. We've been enormously fortunate to have experienced cruisers as close friends, and they've encouraged us and motivated us with stories and good wishes. We've drawn on our own 20-years of experiences sailing here in Alaska, and in our 20+ years of mountaineering in Alaska's mountains. Being accustomed to a certain amount of discomfort has its advantages.
The following books have been enormously valuable.
Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder, all three editions. If you don't already own some edition of this book, you're behind. If it breaks, there are directions on how to fix it.
The next two books are to be read prior to buying a cruising boat, when one is just beginning to get the cruising itch. Both are most useful when used as early in the preparation as possible.
Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook by Nigel Calder. Another excellent Nigel book, focusing on cruising.
The Voyager's Handbook: The Essential Guide to Bluewater Cruising by Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger. One of my favorites by two of my favorite authors. Practical ideas for solving the myriad problems faced by cruisers.
All books by Bernard Moitessier. While dated with respect to technology and such, they still speak to the relationship among humans, the oceans, and the planet. On a long night watch, you'll be glad that you read one. Bill recommends, "The Long Way" as an introduction.
For the first stage of our journey, the Marine Atlas, volumes 1 and 2. They cover, in detail, the entire coast from Seward to the Canadian border (the Alaskan section of the Inside Passage).
Charlie's Charts are a "must have" for the trip to the lower 48. There are additions for various parts of the world, and we suspect that they're all as accurate and useful as "North to Alaska". Charlie's Pacific guide is our go-to book.
Null School is the first of the planet-wide weather sites. When we have Internet, we can get the Big Picture of what's going on in our area.
Windyty is another planet-wide weather site. There's slightly different information and presentation, but of similar value.
Buoyweather is a superb site, and we subscribe to the premium subscription since it provides us with a 10-day forecast. It's as close to a personal weather router as we're likely to get.
In addition, we advise everyone to talk to people who have actually cruised for extended periods. Theory is good, but there's nothing like talking to someone who has experience.
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