A five-year-old dream came to fruition last Tuesday, the day that Meander became finally and fully ours.

But now that we have the paper to prove it, our work has just begun. For your consideration, we have listed below what we think we now have to do to get off the dock and start the “cruising” part of our liveaboard cruising lifestyle.

Landlubbers will be impressed by everything we know. Veteran cruisers will, of course, not be surprised at everything we don’t know.


  1. Review basics of engine operation.
    1. Create “start” and “stop” checklists.
    2. Test run.
    3. Identify, label, and practice with throttle and transmission.
  2. Make short service trip to local marina.
    1. Perform initial holding tank pumpout.
    2. Check fuel tank level. Fill to ¾ if required.
  3. Freshen sanitary system.
    1. Holding tank.
    2. Waste piping.
  4. Restore freshwater system.
    1. Pump out old standing water from tanks and lines.
    2. Clean.
    3. Fill.
    4. Test every faucet and fixture, including shower.
  5. Finish stowing.
  6. Learn basics of other systems to fullest extent possible while at slip.
    1. Batteries
      1. Find out types and maintenance requirements.
      2. Find out if they can be charged by alternator as well as by shore power.
    2. Lights: Test at night for function and correct panel labeling.
    3. Navigation instruments
      1. Develop instrument list.
      2. Match transducer locations with cockpit gauges.
    4. VHF radio
      1. Finish and post operating and emergency instructions. Include radio alphabet.
      2. Test unit.
    5. Refrigerator: Find out what the “refrigerator” switch on Meander’s AC panel does.
  7. Review and achieve compliance with all federal requirements for recreational boats.
    1. Complete known carriage requirements.
      1. Stow charts.
      2. Stow day/night flares.
      3. Stow life jackets.
      4. Mount fire extinguishers.
    2. Research requirements for keeping a ship’s log.
    3. Check for other requirements.
  8. Create pre-launch checklist.
  9. Charge batteries.

SHAKEDOWN CRUISE (defined here)

  1. Preparations.
    1. Review the Navigation Rules of the Road.
      1. Steering and sailing rules.
      2. Lights and shapes.
      3. Sound and light signals.
      4. Other rules.
    2. Pump holding tank if required.
    3. Charge batteries if required.
  2. Pre-launch drill.
    1. Run through pre-launch checklist.
    2. Make a log entry.
  3. Exercises.
    1. Practice maneuvers under engine power.
      1. Tight turns forward.
      2. Tight turns in reverse. Review prop walk.
      3. One-second bursts to maintain way or to stop.
      4. Backing and filling.
    2. Perform sail handling maneuvers.
      1. Hoist, reef and furl all sails.
      2. Try basic sloop and cutter configurations on all points of sail.
      3. Heave to.
    3. Develop and practice crew-overboard recovery procedures.
      1. Wife overboard (Pam).
      2. Husband overboard (Mike).
      3. Dog overboard (Honey).
    4. Practice making fast.
      1. Alongside docks.
      2. In slips.
    5. Practice handling ground tackle in daytime anchorages.


Fairport Marina, Fairport, VA to Cambridge Municipal Yacht Basin, Cambridge, MD. Estimated trip duration: Four days. Estimated departure date: Who the heck knows?

  1. Plan a route.
    1. Select marinas for three overnight stays.
    2. Select backup marinas and anchorages.
    3. Chart primary and alternate courses.
  2. Identify a weather window, ideally with winds from south to west.
  3. Day-before preparations.
    1. Do laundry.
    2. Empty refrigerator of perishables.
    3. Provision with non-refrigerated food.
    4. Get extra cash.
    5. Pump out holding tank.
    6. Charge batteries if required.
  4. Pre-launch drill.
    1. Run through pre-launch checklist.
    2. Make a log entry.
  5. Cast off.


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