Practical examples of the use of our Passage and Pilotage planning forms.


Sample Passage and Pilotage Plans - Passage planning for longer voyages


In order to demonstrate how to write a passage plan and offer some tuition on how our passage planning forms can assist you to in preparing a passage plan, we are detailing two different passage and pilotage examples to help you. We will presently be detailing a passage and pilotage plan between Peel, Isle of Man and Portaferry near Strangford, N. Ireland. Please be aware that, although the navigation details in the following examples were correct at the time of publication; weather, tidal and navigation changes mean they may not be applicable now, and so they are not to be used for navigation purposes. Their relevance is for passage planning and pilotage planning tuition only.


Example 1


Shown below are scans of the details of a passage and pilotage plan from Plymouth to Fowey, Cornwall. We started our planning by gathering the related information relating to our proposed voyage (known as passage planning appraisal) and then pencil drawing our proposed route on to our Imray charts covering the area from Start Point to the Fowey River (Imray 2004.7, 2004.8, 2400.13). Figures 1 and 2 detail the pilotage plan from the Queen Anne's Battery marina to the Draystone Buoy to the south east of Penlee Point. This required us to make two pilotage plans and one passage plan. The Plymouth pilotage passes through a very busy area, this being a naval base with the possibility of heavy traffic. The tidal data for the day was entered in the pilotage and a time of 09:00 was chosen for a fair tide out of Plymouth Sound. Other details were entered (see plans), wind, expected weather, sea state as suitable for the pilotage and the relevant waypoints were entered on the initial pilotage plan after a route had been drawn on the Imray chart (2400.13). Other pilotage details were taken from Reeds Almanac and a sketch made as Fig.2. Various bearings were noted in order to help fix our waypoints and the various beacons, buoys and other details were entered in the notes, thus having a record of what we expected to see along the pilotage. We were expecting a speed of 5kt. throughout the journey, and this enabled us to work out the timings between waypoints. Note: Click on the plans to zoom detail.

Part of a pilotage plan for leaving Plymouth, Devon
Part of a pilotage plan for leaving Plymouth, Devon

Figure 1:Pilotage  Plymouth

Part of a pilotage plan for leaving Plymouth, Devon
Part of a pilotage plan for leaving Plymouth, Devon

Figure 2:Pilotage sketch Plymouth                         Figure 3:Passage Plan Draystone to Fowey

All of our notes and sketches were easily drawn in pencil on our pilotage planning forms which are matt plastic heat encapsulated pouches suitable for writing on with a tough waterproof surface.

Our passage plan took us from the Draystone Buoy, to the south of Rame Head, across Whitsand Bay to south of the Udder Rock cardinal buoy and hence to the entrance of the Fowey River. At this point we commenced the pilotage plan for the last part of the voyage. Figures 3 and 4 record the waypoints and coastal route and notes the leg trip distances for the complete passage and pilotage plans, thus giving us estimated times for the start and end of each leg of the passage. Various instructional notes are detailed on Fig. 4 for each of the passage plan legs.

Part of a passage plan example between Plymouth and Fowey, Cornwall.
Part of a passage plan example between Plymouth and Fowey, Cornwall..

Figure 4: Passage Plan Sketch                                                                              Figure 5: Pilotage Fowey

A pilotage plan example to enter the port of Fowey, Cornwall

Figure 6: Pilotage Fowey Sketch

Pilotage Fowey River

Our second pilotage plan Figures 5 and 6, started at a point on the centre line of the river and in line with St. Catherine's Point on the east shore and the Punch Cross pile beacon on the west shore. The Fowey pilotage is not difficult in good sea and weather conditions, however it can be a very busy port and a good lookout is required. Our intended mooring was near Penleath Point and, as there was no visitors pontoon at that time of year, we expected to call the harbour patrol early for instruction. Communication details were

entered on our pilotage form, including lights and marks; pilotage and navigation remarks were taken from Reeds Almanac for the area.


Example 2


An entirely different pilotage was made from the head of the River Dart at Totnes, down to Dittisham moorings, to the north of Dartmouth. The route, through the most beautiful scenery along the river, is very tidal as it passes through the upper reaches of the river. The route  needs to be navigated during the flood, and the passage meanders across the river where the main navigation channel routes between large areas of shallow mud. Although reasonably buoyed, it is essential to fully concentrate during the passage to avoid grounding in the silt.


Due to a late flood we were not able to leave the Baltic Wharf at Totnes until 18:15, approximately one hour before high tide. The stream against us was slight. Weather and wind conditions were very good and by following a detailed sketch on our Passage Planner of our desired route and using the relevant Imray chart combined with our Reeds Almanac detail, we were able to calculate our bearings, trip distances and times for the passage. Additionally we checked each leg with our expected buoyage and other navigational marks along the route. We were well aware that, as it was a calm and pleasant evening, we could expect to see rowers on the river from the local rowing clubs. Once confident with our route detail, we transfered the waypoints to our chart plotter. Our passage down the river was made using both our passage planning forms and chart plotter. It was a beautiful one hour voyage and, yes, sure enough we passed several rowing teams returning up river.


Whilst on the passage, one of our crew filmed some of the beautiful scenery along the way.  A clip is shown at the end of this article. Note the proximity of the route to the bank of the River Dart.

Passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.
An example of passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.
An example of passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.

Figure 7: Route weather & tide detail.                 Figure 8: Passage plan sketch, time/distance trip    Figure 9: Details for each Passage leg

Click on images to zoom

An example of passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.
An example of passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.
An example of passage planning between Totness and Dartmouth, Devon.

Figures 10-12: Continuation forms containing details for each Passage leg

Click on images to zoom


Below: A short video taken during the passage detailed in the above Passage Plan. (N50º 24.591′  W003º 38.569′)


In using our encapsulated passage planning forms as a template, we have presented the above passage planning and pilotage planning tuition as a practical example of the use of our passage planning forms. The example shown is taken from a real passage carried out a short time ago. We included a lot of data in producing this passage plan guideline, particularly regarding the Plymouth pilotage which was via a busy channel out through the south west of Plymouth Sound. In carrying out your own planning you may include less or indeed more data depending on your knowledge of the area. The forms are designed partly as an aide memoir for the most salient features to be included in a good passage plan but also for you to include or indeed restrict information as you feel fit. We didn't include a port of refuge in our example because, between the two ports there really isn't a suitable bolt hole.




Local Day Sailing - strategy

Often the day sailing we do will start and end at the same port, generally our home port. However, we are still required to carry out a passage planning excercise even though the trip may only be down the coast or around the bay, returning a little while later. We still need to be aware of, and plan for the weather and tides for the period away from our mooring. We still need a plan as to where we are going, whether we want to anchor for, say lunch or a swim, perhaps we may be returning in the evening, thus requiring additional knowledge regarding navigation, lights and other things we take for granted during day sails. We need to know that, should we need to use our engine,  we have sufficient fuel on board for our journey. If we have crew and or passengers on board with limited sailing experience, we are required to plan for these limitations and, indeed we will need to make all those on board aware of the safety equipment and procedures available including having sufficient provisions such as food and water for the day. Bearing in mind that it is generally colder on the sea than in port, always check that any crew and passengers have waterproof and warm clothing with them, including sun protection cream.


How we personally deal with this is to have a 'generic' pilotage and passage plan sketch for our local area. It includes 'no go' areas such as close to shores, rocks, shallows and other areas we need to avoid. We include clearing lines on the sketch to help with 'no-go'areas. Each time we leave port we check that the generic sketch is still relevant. Additionally we update tidal, weather, safety detail, fuel levels and any other item which we consider relevant to the day sail. We also find it useful to check current issues of the local Harbour Master Notice for the local sailing area. Such notices advise sailors of current warnings relating to activities and suchlike within the area covered by the local harbour. Such advice can be used to avoid, for instance, a local sailing race which we would wish to avoid sailing through. Our laminated passage and pilotage forms are designed such that all this detail can be quickly and easily entered. Changeable details such as tide, weather, wind and other such variations can be erased at the end of the day for re- entry prior to the next local sail.


All other longer passages are planned by making a new passage plan and pilotage plan for our intended port. Any port of refuge along the passage is dealt with by completing a port of refuge plan for each relevant port.

A pilotage plan is essential to enter the port of Gaios, Paxos, Greece.




Photo left - The beautiful port of Gaios located on the east coast of the island of Paxos, south of Corfu. This area of the Ionian Sea in Greece is virtually without tides. Nevertheless this does not obviate the need for good passage planning and accurate pilotage planning, as the port is not simple to enter, particularly in windy conditions. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that the shallow areas are avoided in navigating this lovely part of the coast.

(N39º 11.800′  E20º 11.200′)