Getting ready for a big adventure.

How to Prepare for a Long Voyage. 

  1. Getting the time off – Retirement or sabbatical leave.
  2. Before you leave home.
  3. How to travel to the voyage ports, can you avoid flying? 
  4. What do you want to do with your free time when onboard?

Boredom is easy to avoid, you are much more likely to wish the voyage would go on longer.

Ocean Voyages



  1. You can see what you physically need to take with you from your voyage kit list
  2. Most people take a laptop or tablet with them.
  3. You enjoy making new friends

Getting the time off.

Even if you are retired you will need to plan what happens ashore in your absence.

Can you group all your annual leave together? 

A mix of leave and sabbatical?

Sabbatical leave. Link to great article on Sabbatical Leave

Job sharing?

Preparing before you leave home

Make sure your passport lasts at least 6 months beyond the end of your voyage.

Arrange to take with you sufficient medication if you are on a prescription or supplements of your choice.

Make sure anything you need done while you’re away is taken care of, 

  1. utility bills, 
  2. insurance renewals, 
  3. friends and relatives Birthdays and anniversaries.
  4. Rates and taxes
  5. Annual reviews are advanced or delayed either side of your voyage.
  6. Your absence is known by those that need to know.
  7. Anything that needs checking on regularly is taken care off.


How to travel to the voyage ports, can you avoid flying? 

You decided on a long voyage and it is likely at least one of your voyage ports is many miles from home, it may be both.

Make the adventure really special by giving yourself time to travel on the land or sea to those ports.

Bus and Coach travel is cheap and very extensive in nearly all countries.

Trains are quicker but more expensive

Freight ship passengers, join a cargo ship as a passenger.

  1. Slowtravel – Specialist in Freighter Travel worldwide – Langsamreisen
  2. Freighter Travel Costs and Questions
  3. Freighter Cruises Worldwide
  4. Voyages en Cargo

What do you want to do with your free time when onboard.

Are you looking forward to your phone not working, no interruptions, no texts or calls to answer?  (Emergency messages can be sent and received via the ship’s systems.)

Here are 49 things you could be doing with your free time.

  1. Write your book
  2. Write a blog
  3. Compose music
  4. Write a play
  5. Read new and favourite books
  6. Listen to music
  7. Play music
  8. Shanty singing
  9. Do some sketching
  10. Help with the ships maintenance
  11. Contemplation – meditation
  12. Take photographs
  13. Edit your photos
  14. Poetry, writing, reading, reciting
  15. Podcasts, download a selection before boarding
  16. Watch the sea and its changing moods
  17. Watch a movie communally or on your laptop
  18. Keep a log of wildlife sightings
  19. Socialise with the crew
  20. Play cards and board games
  21. Play downloaded computer games
  22. Create and join in a Quiz night
  23. Tie knots rapidly
  24. Knit, crochet, embroidery or sow by hand, canvas bags etc
  25. Learn celestial navigation
  26. Study the night sky 
  27. Learn about meteorology, and clouds in particular.
  28. Study the rigging
  29. See how the sails are set to best catch the wind
  30. Study Oceanography
  31. Learn about ocean currents above and below the surface.
  32. Daily exercises, pilates, yoga, HIT
  33. Ships are giant climbing frames to exercise on.
  34. Join any lectures or courses offered on board, or give your own.
  35. Create a ship’s play with the crew.
  36. Have a drink of alcohol: complying with the ships rules.
  37. Making wristbands
  38. Studying the ships chart
  39. Before your voyage download the appropriate Navigation Charts
  40. Buy paper charts to mark your daily position.
  41. Kumihimo weaving, cords and plaiting,
  42. Looking for the green flash,
  43. Watch the sunrise,
  44. Getting a new perspective on life,
  45. Watching the bow wave from the bowsprit,
  46. Going aloft to gaze at the ocean,
  47. Study your wake from the stern,
  48. Looking at the patterns of waves and swell,
  49. Notice the colours and light in the sea

Whatever you want to do onboard, plan how you will achieve it and what you need to take in good time for your voyage and still travel light.

Things you can’t do

  • Go back for anything you have forgotten. 
  • Connect to the internet.
  • Use an ATM (Cash machine)
  • Change your dietary requirement whilst onboard except for new medical reasons.

When on board

Preparing for being on watch.

What’s the routine?

Like ashore your day is divided into periods of work when you are on watch, your own free time, eating and sleeping. Depending on the ship they could have a variety of different watch rotas, There is a full explanation in the Tall Ship Guide Book

On watch

Your ship will detail your duties when on watch and pin up a rota so you can check when you are on duty. The sail handling, helming are all going to be vessel specific. 

Why are lookouts required?

The duty a lot of people think is boring is the lookout duty. Why not just use the radar and AIS. Well apart from anything else it is part of the ships procedures to keep a good lookout at all times and by this they mean with human eyes. When it’s cold and wet the length of time you are on watch should be reduced in line with severity of the weather.

Don’t miss out.

Lookout duty done thoroughly can be one of the most rewarding duties of a watch. 

You will see more wildlife, spot dangers, shout out land ahoy if you follow a simple procedure detailed in the Tall Ship Guide Book

Getting ready to go on watch at night.

You should have a good idea of the likely weather before you retire. Set up the clothing you will need in such a way it goes on quickly and quietly if you are in a shared cabin. Normally a crew member will be sent to wake you, if they are good they will also tell what it is like on deck.

Night Sky

The sky at night is often the highlight of the voyage, slightly exceeded by coming off the 4am to 8am watch for a lovely breakfast!


A long voyage is a great chance for lasting long time memories, enjoy.

Classic Sailing, run by professional sailors.

Long Voyages


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