Passage Planning, The key elements of the Voyage Plan

IMO Guidelines for voyage planning and SOLAS Chapter V Annex 23 -24 respectively, give specific regulatory information with regard to the passage plan.

Principles of Passage Planning

  • Appraising All information relevant to the contemplated passage plan should be considered.
  • Chart – Up to date/correct scales
  • Vessel/Crew – Limits and numbers
  • Danger – En-Route
  • Weather
  • Tides
  • Safe Havens
  • Fuel
  • Berth 
  • Radio Channels En route (Admir, Radio Signals)
  • Pilotage -Departure and Destination
  • Port Bylaws
  • Traffic
  • Masters Standing Orders
  • Sunrise and Sunset
  • Planning On the basis of the fullest possible appraisal, a detailed voyage or passage plan should be prepared which should cover the entire voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas where the services of a pilot will be used.
  • Annotate the chart with any additional information which you may find useful when underway.
  • Good position fixing objects
  • Dangers
  • Shallow water
  • Radio Reporting points and channel
  • Minimum tide height required at certain points
  • When to call the master (Approaching pilot station)
  • Local bylaws e.g Speed, exclusion zones, which vessel has right of way
  • Executing Having finalized the voyage or passage plan, as soon as the time of departure and estimated time of arrival can be determined with reasonable accuracy, the voyage or passage should be executed in accordance with the plan or any changes made thereto.
  • Monitoring The plan should be available at all times on the bridge to allow officers of the navigational watch immediate access and reference to the details of the plan.
  • Fix position at appropriate intervals (Gps, 3pt fix, radar, electronic charts, transit bearing)
  • Continuous position monitoring techniques- Parallel index, time passing waypoint, echo trend etc
  • Appropriate visual lookout
  • Latest weather forecasts
  • Latest navigation warnings
  • Keep charts up to date
  • Listen to navigation and safety broadcasts
  • Maintain proper radio watch

Questions to help with passage planning

  1. How far is passage?
  2. What time do we need to arrive?
  3. What is the weather forecast?
  4. How long will the passage take?
  5.  Tides gates?
  6. What allowances must be made for tides?
  7. What are the hazards on route?
  8. Pilotage plan for departure and entry/ in the dark?
  9.  Any Changes in the wind direction?
  10. Suitable places of refuges, secondary port?
  11. Fuel?
  12. Arrange watch systems around crew strengths?
  13. Limits of the crew, skipper, boat, and crew?

Rough seas precautions

  • Consider turning back/safe haven/ Anchorage
  • Secure Cargo
  • Shut Watertight Doors
  • Clear Scuppers
  • Reduce speed
  • Ballast down
  • Take a fix
  • Stop Maintenance
  • Block Spurling Pipe (Foam/rags)
  • Turn on Nav Lights
  • Trim head up a touch
  • Lash the anchor secure.
Passage Planning Publication