Andy Willett of Stella Maris Yachting explains how to properly prepare for a long distance sailing trip.

The current interest in long distance sailing shows no sign of slowing down as many owners, crews, couples and families give up their jobs to buy a comfortable boat, usually 40ft plus, and make plans to head off across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal and round the rest of the world.

The significant numbers of yachts setting off from the UK is demonstrated by rallies like the ARC, which heads to St Lucia for Christmas, and even more ambitious round the world rallies such as Oyster’s World Rally, which leaves Antigua in January 2017.

Many yachts receive a complete overhaul before embark on long trips

Many yachts receive a complete overhaul before embark on long trips


Stella Maris Yachting, the yacht refit, restoration and ‘whole-life’ support company based in Southampton, has given many of these yachts complete overhauls before they embark on such a voyage. Fully refitted yachts tend to suffer less breakdowns over the next couple of years.

It is important for owners to be closely involved with the work, while subsequent sailing trials with owners and their families provide a thorough operational check-through of all the functions on the boat.

Andy Willett of Stella Maris Yachting explained the typical scenario: “Many of the owners who are planning extensive sailing trips have only just bought their yachts. The acquisition is often the result of a lifetime dream, and the yachts are often second hand, although often only a few years old. Despite this there can be faults, some obvious and some not so obvious, so it is advisable to get the whole yacht stripped back and inspected.”

“Here is the important bit. In a boatyard like ours the owner gets to work alongside the shipwrights and is encouraged to help service and fix each part of the boat as we get to work on it. That way, when the boat comes out of the shed and goes back into the water, the owner has already had ‘training’ in each of the important areas of the boat. These can range from engine and generator maintenance, rig diagnosis and repairs, plumbing and water supply, electrics, electronics and so on.

The Oyster World Rally is a 27,000 mile circumnavigation beginning in January

The Oyster World Rally is a 27,000 mile circumnavigation beginning in January


“Suffering breakdowns and equipment failures mid-ocean or in a far-flung Pacific archipelago where there are no services can be extremely inconvenient and put the sailing schedule back by weeks. It is extremely expensive to get spare parts, or even engineers and other experts to come to remote places, so if you can fix things yourself, and your gear is all in good and recently serviced condition, it is going to save a whole lot of time and money.”

It is not just ocean globetrotters that can benefit by being present in the yard while their yachts are being refitted and restored. It is a great experience for owners of yachts of all sizes to learn more about their yacht, providing of course, they have time to get away from the office.

ARC: www.worldcruising.com/arc

Oyster’s World Rally: www.oysterworldrally.com