Passage planning Questions and answers.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine, USA. (N43º 50.223′  W69º  30.364′)




                                        About our products




Passage Planners


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Q. Why did you design Passage Planning forms?


 A. Some years ago, when we started sailing, we soon realised that we needed to do something called 'passage planning'. Not only that, but we were made aware that the law required us to do this for every journey we made at sea, even if it was only a short trip round the bay. Once we started to carry out this routine we tried to find some "standard forms" to help us put our plans down on paper in a regular and consistent format. We couldn't find anything suitable, so we designed our own, which we have developed over the years to end up as a concise series of forms, which we use as templates, to help us complete the written part of our plans. There are no hard and fast rules for passage, pilotage and port of refuge planning, other than the fact that all skippers need to have a plan prior to leaving port.  So we  designed our series of  forms as a guideline to help prepare for Passage Planning, Pilotage, Ports of Refuge and Tide details, required for sea-going passages. Later on, we added Watchkeeping and Emergency Radio Procedures forms to the suite. We are not suggesting that the information requested on the forms is the only method of planning, but we do think that we have covered the main parts of the data required for an effective, methodical and safe plan. You may wish to add notes and details in your plan and sketches in order to personalise your plan, but we reckon that  we have included the fundamental required detail entry boxes which you will need for most passage plans. We have used them successfully for our sailing in the UK and abroad. They are suitable for navigation plannning on sailing yachts, motor yachts and other types of sea going vessels.


 In order for the forms to be both waterproof and reusable, we heat laminate them in high quality 250µ. thick matt plastic lamination pouches for rigidity, strength and protection such that, by using a standard B grade black pencil to enter the passage details, any alterations can be quickly and easily made en-route if conditions require. After the passage is completed the forms can be erased using a standard pencil eraser, so they are ready to be used again. Each form can be used several times over, making them a good value purchase.


 As they are completely waterproof the completed forms can be taken into the cockpit without concern for wet weather damaging your plan.


Tip: Before final erasure we make sure to take a photo of the plan(s) on a cell phone for record and further use.




Q. Do you publish any other types of passage planning forms?


A. YES - We also publish three wire bound, lay-flat books, containing many pages for Passage planning, Pilotage planning and Port of Refuge planning. Book 1 contains many forms for the passage planning stage including forms for sketches and other details and

continuation sheets. Also included in this book are pages for your boat’s MMSI and Call Sign details and many other details of your boat which, in the event of any emergency, may be requested by the Coastguard. Book 2 contains many forms for the pilotage planning stage including forms for sketches and other details and continuation sheets. Book 3 contains many forms for the Port of refuge planning stage including forms for sketches and other details and continuation sheets.

Each wire bound book is sold as a single item or as a full set of 3 books at a discounted price.

Each of the three books contains many sheets of thick high quality printed data for you to edit using a B grade pencil. Although they are not waterproof, your entered data may be edited and/or carefully erased using a good quality plastic pencil eraser. If required, the sheets may be removed from the book or left in for further use. Each book is also published with gloss laminated thick covers and also covered back and front with waterproof acetate covers on Book 1. They may be taken on deck where we advise that they are protected from the elements by keeping within a see-through plastic chart case or similar. We reckon that each book easily contains enough forms for a full year

of planning for most sailors and represents very good value for money.





Q. Are Passage Planning forms only published in English.

No. In addition to our English publications, we also publish colour versions of all of our Passage Planning, Pilotage Planning, Ports of Refuge, Watchkeeping and Tide Planning forms in both French and German languages.




Q. Will the Forms purchased by me be free of Watermarks.


A. All our encapsulated Forms supplied to you will be free of any Watermark.



Q. Can the forms be 2 or 4 hole punched for storage in a ring binder?


A. Yes, but we would not advise it as the hole punching will destroy the waterproof integrity of the forms. This may be ok if you are never going to expose the forms to any wet weather, however our forms are intended to be taken into and used in the cockpit of your boat, where they are guaranteed to get wet at some time. If your forms are perforated in any way, water will leach into the perforation and will bleed into the inside of the form, quickly making it unserviceable. We tested an encapsulated form by 4 hole punching with a paper punch and then immersing it in water. Within a fairly short time, water bled into the form and soon ruined it for further use.


On the other hand we fully immersed an un-punched form into water for 4 hours without any damage whatsoever.




Q. Can the forms be used and stored in the cockpit of our yacht?


A. During a normal passage you may have several forms in the cockpit relating to your passage, pilotage and ports of refuge planning. If you purchase a full set of forms from us we include a heavy duty clear (see through) document wallet featuring a secure press-stud closure. It has a multi-punched durable and reinforced edge so it can also be held in a (waterproof) ring binder either in your cockpit or below deck. The document wallet may also be purchased separately from our online shop.



Q. You say to use a B grade pencil to write on the forms. Why?


A. The matt finish encapsulated sleeves are designed to be written on for subsequent erasure. Our experience with various types of writing instruments resulted in pencil being the best. Very few other writing instruments work! A B grade pencil  is found to be the best. It is solid enough to write normally on the forms but not so solid that, with normal writing pressure, it leaves an impression on the surface. Furthermore, it was easily erased using a pencil eraser. It is also waterproof!


 Not only do we say use B pencil but recommend Staedtler pencil brand. For erasing pencil we only recommend the Staedtler Mars plastic eraser.

Any other non plastic eraser is too harsh for the matt encapsulated forms and should not be used as they will severely reduce the life of the form.


Do not use: Ballpoint pens!

Do not use: Fountain pens!

Do not use: Felt tip pens!

Dry wipe marker pens? We don't recommend. Dry wipe marker pens, although they may be erased with a pencil eraser, this is not always successful and, generally the thickness of the tip of dry wipe pens is too thick to be suitable for our forms. So we do not recommend them!


In short - we only recommend a B grade pencil. Any other writing instrument could damage the form surface.



Q. What is the best way of erasing my passage plan ready for the next one?

A. Any good quality decent sized plastic pencil eraser will do the trick (however, definitely not the one usually found on top of a pencil). Use a good quality one which is easily held in the hand, not too small as this will lengthen the erasure time. Basically, any plastic eraser for pencils will work. We tried out a few battery operated erasors, however all of those we tested had small diameter erasers which were unsuitable for use to erase anything other than a small amount of data, and so we can’t recommend battery operated erasers. Stick to standard size traditional erasers like 'Stabilo Legacy Large White Plastic Rubber Eraser' or we recommend the 'Staedtler Mars Plastic Pencil Eraser Rubber' or even Faber-Castell Dust Free (well, not entirely) eraser for best results. Too much heavy rubbing will shorten the life of the matt 'tooth' which, with care is usually good for up to ten Passage, Pilotage or Port of Rescue plans. Sorry - but they don't last forever!



Q. Do you produce a VHF/DSC radio Mayday call and a Pan-Pan call cockpit


A. Yes.  Our Mayday & Pan-Pan Cockpit Cards explain how to make both calls from your boat. The cockpit card has the Mayday procedure on one side with     the Pan-PMayday and Pan-Pan Cockpit Cardan procedure on the reverse side. Our laminated card is full colour, waterproof and supplied in matt finish both sides. Each form can be written on using a B grade pencil which may then be easily erased with a rubber eraser. Can be used time and time again. Click here to go to the full description page (opens in a new tab). Ideally the card needs to be kept near to your VHF radio in the cockpit or your radio station below deck. An image of the card is shown on the left. Also shown is a VHF and a VHF/DSC radio. It is essential to carry one or the other on board your vessel for safety reasons.


We also offer a Radio procedures cockpit card  (opens in a new tab), which helps you to have the MMSI and Call Sign for your boat available, together with many other details of your boat, to be on hand in case you need to contact the Coastguard or any of the emergency services whilst afloat. This card can be seen on the same page as the above Mayday and Pan-Pan cockpit card.



Q. Does the Tidal Stream Calculation Form require a Tidal Atlas to complete?


A. To be able to make the correct calculation of tidal stream  UT/BST  start and end times for the sea area in which you are interested, you will require to know when the stream starts/ends in relation to the Reference Port for the particular sea area in question. This requires that you consult a Tidal Atlas for the area. However there is an alternative source of this information. If you have a copy of Reeds Nautical Almanac, it contains tidal streams detail for all areas of the UK coast. If the Almanac is current it will also have the relevant times and heights of high water for each day of the relevant Reference Ports. Most skippers will have a current copy of "Reeds" for their annual sailing requirements. Thus, there is an alternative to buying a Tidal Atlas for each of your sailing areas.


Click to link to Tidal Stream Data for UK areas to enable you to determine start/end times of tidal streams for your selected areas. Page will open in new tab.


Click to link to our Tides link page which will allow you to get Reference Port tide times for free. Page will open in a new tab.




Q. How long does it take to 'do' a passage plan?


A. How long is s piece of string?

The length of time it takes to make a passage plan is not always in proportion to the length of the journey, rather it depends on the complexity of the passage in terms of number of waypoints, possible hazards, tidal gates along the route, tidal streams and ports of refuge. The destination port pilotage may be quite simple e.g Brixham or more complicated e.g Plymouth marinas, requiring a more  detailed and/or complex plan. As a guide, and from our own experience we reckon to spend between twenty minutes to half a hour for most passages. The more you practice it, the better and quicker you become. Remember though, it's not just how quick you are, but how well you do it!




Q. Am I allowed to make copies of the matt encapsulated planning forms?


A. If you purchase any of our matt encapsulated planning forms or matt encapsulated Watchkeeping forms you are allowed to copy any of the forms under certain circumstances. We explain the circumstances in the form of a License which is included with any of your purchased matt encapsulated forms only. Please note that this license only covers the matt encapsulated forms. Our forms which are not encapsulated e.g Our Wire bound Planning sets, are not included in the license and copying them is not permitted. Please see the details of the licence by clicking HERE.


Q. Do you sell your matt laminating pouches separately?

 A. We have been asked this question frequently by people who have created their own data sheets, notes, aid memoirs, route details, tidal charts, in fact all sorts of details which they want to keep dry on passage, yet still want the ability to write on them.  It is difficult to find those with a good quality and a consistent matt writing surface on both sides. We gave up on this from quite early on and, as we purchase in quantity, we buy in bulk from abroad. However if you only require a small quantity, this is not an economical way of purchasing. To help with this we offer matt surface laminating pouches in small quantities supplied in packs of 10 or 20. These are the ones we use for our Passage Planning Forms and can be purchased from our Misc. Items part of our shop  and described as A4 Matt Laminating Pouch x 10 pouches (or 20 pouches).


Please Contact Us if you have any further questions about our products. (opens in a new window)



 You Can't buy


But you can buy

A bottle of wine

And that's

Kind of the same thing!


(Good advice from a restaurant in Fiskardo, Cephalonia, Greece. Ok - the image shows water - happiness to follow!)

(N38º 27.358′  E20º  34.783′)