“I love it when a plan comes together.” – John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, The A-Team

Plan ahead. We hear it all our lives. Plan ahead so you don’t get caught in the rain, plan ahead for retirement, and so on. So here is my ‘plan ahead’: Plan ahead for fun. Much of what you may read or hear in the coming weeks will likely be about putting the boat up for the winter, or ways to keep sailing on your mind during the long winter months ahead. Heck, I even touched on that in my last Editor’s Log. But as I re-read what I’d written I began to think – much like the plot of that ‘80s television show – how simple putting a plan together can be.

Next sailing season is packed with opportunity for new experiences and creating memories to last a lifetime, and the time to begin the journey is now! Have you sailed to Bermuda? The Marion to Bermuda Race is a great way to make it happen, whether you sail your own boat or connect with a crew. How about doing Block Island Race Week? Maybe you have been to Race Week, but never thought of bringing your own boat. This could be your year. The Storm Trysail Club has made the event more inclusive of cruiser/ racers (and even cruisers) with the growth of the Navigator’s classes, and opened up the fleet to more and more one-designs. Check out your options for racing in 2015, and make a plan.

You may not be racing in the Volvo Ocean Race, but that doesn’t mean you cannot take part in the action. The VOR has a North American stopover right in our region. Plan ahead so that you can get your boat to Newport for May 5-17 to join the spectator fleet and welcome the fleet to North America or watch the stadium-style Pro-Am Race and In Port Race on Narragansett Bay and the start of the next leg. Can’t get the boat in the water that early? Book a room now so that you can grab a spot to watch the action from shore – the Volvo Ocean Race Village at Fort Adams will have plenty for the whole family to do and see.

Are these events a little too far down the road to make plans? How about getting a group together for a road trip to Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week? This event has become one of the most popular and anticipated race weeks on the sailing calendar. And lest you think mid-April (16 -19) is a long way off, you’re mistaken. Get on it now so that you can maybe get a few practice sessions in before the weather gets too raw here in the Northeast…and does it really ever get too nasty to go sailing in preparation for a competitive event like Race Week?

The sooner you prepare for a racing adventure, the better your experience is likely to be. When all the details are taken care of and there’s no last-minute scramble, you can focus on the score line and not just getting to the start line. Good luck out there if your sailing plans take you racing, but many among us see ourselves nestled into a cove or harbor with a cocktail and a good book instead of dueling on the racecourse.

Like any racing campaign, a good cruise needs proper planning and plenty of lead time to book the destinations you want to reach and to adequately plan for provisioning, or even guests along the way. With today’s electronics (even what you may have purchased a decade ago), plotting is simple and can usually be done in the comfort of your living room or office. I usually start out with a paper chart of the region I hope to traverse and get an idea of the distances and time needed to get to the places that interest .me, and then plot my desired route electronically. This sort of planning allows me to anticipate alternate destinations, routes, and even travel windows, depending on our .needs or wants.

If a race or a cruise has been eluding you in years past, consider taking the time  to research what it takes to make it a success. Spring and summer 2015 is going to be action-packed for sailors from the Northeast – and if you are planning to travel to an away regatta, launch early in time for the VOR, or go cruising, making early plans will afford you the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may even have time to savor a fine cigar with your own A-Team.

See you on the water.

Chris Gill