Cruise planning next steps

Published 4:27 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

In the March boating column article, we outlined Cruise Planning 101. We shared that no one should hop on a boat to run to Ocracoke or Canada or the Caribbean without planning.

Here are additional trips whether short, long or extremely long range cruising.

Medicines and prescriptions

Take enough medications for the cruise length, plus a few days as back up. Other options are to arrange for refills along the way or mail order prescriptions delivered to a port-of-call mail drop. If cruising outside the United States, what are the drug regulations of the various foreign destinations? Canada and Mexico are not the United States!

Eyeglasses and prescription

Take an extra pair of prescription glasses and/or contacts. Take your prescription in case it’s required to make new eye glasses/contacts. Don’t forget prescription sunglasses too.

Insurance/boat insurance

Always have the boat’s insurance card or declaration page on board plus the claim phone number(s). Do you have SeaTow or Towboat US for assistance? Know the difference between un-grounding and salvage and whether or not yours covers salvage. Do you have coverage for foreign cruising and what are the limitations?

Insurance/car insurance

Keep a copy of your car insurance card in your wallet. Although you aren’t traveling by car, you would need it to rent a vehicle. Also in some cases, marinas require a copy to use their short term marina car.

Insurance/health insurance

Take your medical insurance cards and documents. Where you are cruising, will it be in network or out of network or any medical coverage at all? This is especially true in foreign cruising so you may need an international medical policy.

Whether traveling by boat, car or plane, medical evacuation is expensive. Several companies, MedJet Assist, MEDEX, DAN (Dive Accident Insurance) and others provide medical evacuation plus other emergency services. A few credit cards offer similar yet limited services. Assess what you need, comparing how the product meets that need. Understand how, when, what and where this insurance covers you and your family! The internet is invaluable for this.

Passport and visa

Foreign boundaries on the water are not always clear. Even if you expect to be close to a foreign boundary, months before leaving confirm that everyone has an up to date passport. When you know you will be cruising to a foreign port, check with that country on their reporting requirements. Note the date, time, complete name and title of the person to whom you spoke along with the phone number you called. A nautical mile or two often means the difference between countries.


How do you prove you are who you say you are? Passport and driver’s license have your picture and other identifying information. Always have them with you when off the boat.

Boat registration and/or documentation

They must always be on board and presented when requested for inspection. If cruising outside the United States, check that the vessel’s HIN — Hull Identification Number — does not appear altered. The HIN to a boat is the VIN to a car.

Lastly, make two copies of all documents noted above. Keep one on board in a place different from the originals. Keep the second set of copies in a dry bag or dry container that is easily accessible in case you must ditch.

These suggestions may appear extreme. From personal experiences traveling outside the good ole United States of America, they are not.

The Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron schedules boating education courses and seminars throughout the year. A cruise planning course will be offered this year. To learn more about this course and others, the local squadron or what education and safety training is available, email our education officer at or contact Linda at 252-964-3009.

Biff Matthews is a member of the Pamlico Sail & Power Squadron.