You’re about to leave and you have to decide what to bring on a sailboat? Packing a suitcase is one of the crucial moments but don’t fall into the trap of “carrying this too, you never know.” Especially in summer, a few things are enough, well chosen, to enjoy a holiday light and free from the superfluous. Below you will find a list of tips and a checklist to print and have with you to prepare your luggage.
How to prepare your luggage
That’s right, we’d better call it luggage, not suitcase. Trolleys are forbidden on board: they take up a lot of space and if they crash they can ruin the boat or hurt you. Choose a backpack or folding bag, such as a gym bag. When you board, you have one or two lockers in the cabin to store your belongings; the empty bag will be stored until the end of your holiday. I find it convenient to use travel organizers so I can switch everything from the luggage to the locker in a moment and during the holiday everything remains quite tidy.
Holiday sailing clothing
Cabin space is limited, and you won’t be able to leave your stuff around like in a hotel room. Not only because there are other people there, but because in navigation everything could fall and roll around. So if you’re wondering how much stuff to carry, usually the answer is: less. Just half of what you’d bring for a beach holiday of the same length in a hotel.
For a week in the summer you anticipate:
- 3 light sports changes for the day
- 2 long changes for the evening (even if it’s summer)
- 1 to descend to the ground
- waterproof anorak
- clean boat shoes
- shoes to get down to the ground
- slippers for showering in the marinas
- hat and sunglasses
This is a summary, if you want you can deepen to the page dedicated to clothing on board or download the complete checklist.
Sheets and towels
It depends on the arrangements you have made, sometimes you find sheets and towels on board, sometimes you have to bring them. I always have a very compact light sleeping bag with me, because I like spending a few nights outdoors, if it is not too humid. Remember a beach towel to keep for the beach or to lay on the deck of the boat, are perfect microfiber ones that take up very little space in the bag.
The sensitivity to everything that goes into the water is increasing. This is why some boats provide biodegradable soaps and shampoos; some can even be used with salt water. Ask the skipper if he has any specific rules for his boat. If you can’t get products of vegetable origin, choose those that don’t make much foam: you’ll need less water to rinse them and you won’t leave halos in the roadstead.
There is no bidet in the boat’s bathroom. You can use the extendable tap on the sink or bring wet wipes with you. Remember, however, that nothing should be thrown into the toilet (not even toilet paper).
Sunscreen is essential. Do not bring oils and bottles with the sprayer, because they risk greasing the common areas and making the bridge slippery. Even a high-protection cocoa butter helps lips exposed to sun and wind. Can tricks and perfumes be worn? Yes, if you can’t do without it. Be aware, however, that some products contain alcohol or other substances that, if you expose yourself to the sun, will cause stains or irritation.
Other useful boat accessories
It will be useful to have a backpack or a bag for excursions on land. It also carries a waterproof case to keep your phone, money and documents protected from splashes or slips in the water (even a simple food bag with the sealed closure is ok).
A flashlight helps you move in the evening without turning on the lights if others sleep. If you’re sleeping lightly, wear earplugs and an eye mask.
To recharge your phone you will need a 12 volt socket, like the one for the car. It can be convenient to have a multi-port USB adapter, so you can charge all your devices with a single plug. I always have a powerbank with me. Electricity is precious in navigation. You don’t use devices that consume too much electricity such as hair dryers and hotplates. If you have the wind and the sun that make you bend, there’s no reason to bring them.
The sun also dries the costumes lying on the rail (the boat railing). Bring some pegs so they don’t fly away and remember to pick them up if you dock in port. Few sailors can stand the shame of mooring with the boat in disarray.
Medicines on board
Every boat has a small first aid kit for emergencies. Bring your usual medications, and add something you’re used to for the little sicknesses: headache tablets, sunburn cream, insect or jellyfish sting sticks, sea sickness remedies.
The skipper will certainly tell you what to bring, but a document is always needed, especially to stay in port. Check if your identity card is enough or if you need a passport.
Free time on the boat
All the boats I boarded had a small library on board and playing cards. If you have personal preferences of course bring something: I do not go to sea without mask and mouthpiece.