Navigation - Outline plans

Following on from our previous video, we extract all the relevant information needed to draw up an outline passage plan for leaving Belfast Lough and heading over to Liverpool.

Creating an outline plan

  • Gather the information needed to make your plan - Our plan is to travel between Belfast lough and travel over to Liverpool, so we looked at the relevant pilot guide, the correct chart for the area and Reeds Almanac.
  • Standardise the ports - For this particular passage we have some information referring to Belfast, some to Liverpool and other information to Dover, so we write down all the ports involved and find out the offsets between the ports. We then standardise our ports and bring them all to the Primary Port, which in this case in Dover. While Belfast and Liverpool are the secondary ports for this particular passage.
  • Draw a sketch of the passage - if you can trace a chart from a book then great, or you can trace an outline that you can get onto a computer screan. The drawing does not need to be megga acurate, but it does need to be good enougth for you to understand where you what to go and what you want to do.
  • Look for any tidal gates in the passage - Tidal gates, can be marinas that have flaps on them so that you can only enter at high tide or it can be a small section of water that has a strong flow. We mark these all down giving times of the gate opening relative to our Primary port, and the flood and ebb of particular stream again relative to our primary port.
  • What are your back-ups - We then put down all our back-ups, so for example, if we miss the gate to get into Strandfird lough, then Ardglass is our back-up, while for Peel there is the Harbour wall and there are a couple of mooring balls outside.
  • Have a range of courses in your plan - If you can have a range of courses in your plan, so that you can choose the particular route you are taking much closer to the time of departure as then you will have the weather information.

Using an outline plan to create a detailed plan

  • What is the weather - Find out the weather for your passage, if you do not have good weather for your passage then it is better to stay in.
  • What is the tide - What is the tides for the day.
  • Adding the additional information - Add the additional information to your plan and calculate the times that you can go through any tidal gates that you have on the passage. Then time your departure to make sure that you meet these gates. 

Please Note: We keep our figures approximate so say Belfast is +7minutes, we will write it down as +10minutes as it make our arithmatic easy, In sailing you want a leeway of at least half an hour, so being out by 3minutes is neither here or there.