The Oyster World Rally team has created a comprehensive training programme with Oyster suppliers – from sailmakers to engine and generator manufacturers, riggers and deck hardware, hydraulics, to safety, navigation, electrics/electronics and refrigeration. There are also individual training courses for celestial navigation, long range radio and medical skills. All the courses are designed to give you confidence when you set sail.
Our training is delivered through a mix of practical face-to-face workshops, online masterclasses and seminars, public webinars on destinations along with monthly fleet meetings. Together this adds up to a comprehensive support service that is unique to Oyster and prepares each rally entrant and crew to the highest level.
The most important thing is to know your yacht inside out. You may think that the odd week or two sailing in calm, inshore waters would have everything covered. But when you are offshore, miles from land and any practical support means you must know your yacht systems intimately and understand how the yacht handles in all sea conditions. That way, you will instinctively know if something doesn’t feel right.
By preparing for the unexpected, you will have the knowledge you need to sort any unexpected issue that comes up. Maintenance is a key part of preparing your yacht, before and during the voyage. You should do twice daily visual checks around the decks to make sure any moving parts such as gooseneck/vang fittings, furlers and winches are in good order. It is important to check for rope chafe or anything that just doesn’t look right. As Oyster guru, Eddie Scougall says - don’t wait for something to break before you fix it.
Keep your ears open – listen and your yacht will tell you when she is not happy. Staying attuned to how things sound when everything is in good order means you can react if it changes. Keep a stock of good quality spares of the things most likely to break and find out where you can pick up other spares en route if you need to.
The Oyster World Rally has the back-up of the legendary Oyster After Sales team, who have been known to ship parts to the remotest desert island on previous rallies.
It is an obvious thing to say, but the safety of everyone on board, every minute of the day, is vital. Making sure you and your crew are prepared and trained properly will make for a safer and more enjoyable voyage.
On the Oyster Word Rally, a four-day medical course is compulsory for any Skipper, along with a one-day sea survival course for the whole crew. Practice makes perfect, so do man overboard drills and other safety drills regularly so it becomes second nature in the event of a real incident.
Know your first aid kit inside out and make sure you carry the most comprehensive one you have space for. Sign up to a 24-hour TeleMed service like MSOS. This will give you complete peace of mind if someone is taken ill mid-passage. Check you have enough flares (that are in use-by date) and regularly check to make sure other lifesaving equipment such as Liferafts, Epirb, Danbuoy, life-rings and your Satellite phone are all in good order.
On such a long voyage, it is important to keep everyone on board happy and comfortable. On passage, make sure everyone has a role and responsibilities, so everyone contributes to the safe and happy running of the yacht. Many hands make light work, so share the workload fairly.
Make sure water is plentiful – get to know your water maker intimately and have treats lined up for milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries or crossing the Equator. A varied and tasty diet is important – curry or spaghetti bolognese seven days in a row might not be to everyone’s taste!
Step out of your routine as much as possible – have a themed day and stop and enjoy the sunset when the sea is calm. These are the days that make lifelong memories. Take lots of photos and videos and make a video diary of the trip or blog your experience. This all helps when you come to look back on the special moments in the future.
Don’t just rock up and expect everything to be laid on and easy to find. For example, you can easily find the best anchorages and dive schools in advance. The Oyster Events team has compiled a 600-page circumnavigation bible that includes in-depth information on every destination the Oyster World Rally visits. Information ranges from the best places to eat to where to get an engine service, and which tours are the best to go for.
Finally, and probably the most important, is provisioning (or victualling in nautical terminology).
Stock up with all the things you normally eat before you set off on a big ocean passage. A big fridge and freezer are essential, as is choosing foods with a long use-by date. Batch cook meat sauces that can be used for different meals and stock up on tins at the bigger supermarkets. We always recommend you buy food when you can and where it is plentiful – many of the destinations you visit will have beautiful fresh fish and vegetables on sale or for barter. If you want to catch your own fish, buy the best tackle you can afford with plenty of lures and practice with it to find the best strategies to catch fish easily. Once caught, prepare and divide into manageable portions for the freezer or enjoy it fresh. Bake bread – there is nothing like the aroma to get the crew off their bunks in the morning!
Hopefully, you have a better idea of what you need to do to prepare for a circumnavigation. Over 90 Oyster owners have successfully completed the voyage and returned from this life-changing experience with a refreshed spirit of adventure. If you are interested in joining a fully-supported circumnavigation with the Oyster World Rally, you can find out more details of how to enter here.