Updated: Jan 14, 2020
We have all seen countless videos on how to pack your entire wardrobe into a coin purse, but very few of us succeed when it's time to pack for your yachting holiday. Read on for tried and tested list of essentials, packing tricks, dos and don'ts!
As seasoned sailors, not only charterers but racers as well, collectively we have made every packing mistake that can be made. You may laugh at us, but it is so easy to lose run of yourself when all you can think of are crystal clear sea, sunshine, partying all night and hanging out with the 'cool crowd' on your holidays. One member of our team, who shall remain nameless, went off to Greece for two weeks without a pair of deck friendly flats, but brought six pairs of stilettos. So party time and beer money were spent on looking for a shop and a pair of deck shoes.
Before you even start contemplating your party and dressed to impress clothes, pack the essentials. You simply must bring those!
1. Quick dry towel. Most charter yachts come with towels for each guest but they may not always be of the quick dry variety. Damp towels start to get smelly rather quickly so avoid by all means necessary. Beach towels take ages to dry, especially if they get wet with sea water. Quick dry towels are made of microfibre and don't take up much space.
2. Flip flops. These are not ideal for running around the deck but ones made of rubber are ideal for wearing in communal showers, as you are likely to do in marinas, or even in the boat's own heads (in case you are new to this, bathrooms on the boat are calls 'heads'). They can also be handy for dinghy trips and going ashore.
3. Sarong. If you plan on using boat's facilities, you may want to bring one of those. It is rather awkward to get dressed in confined, wet space on the boat, so sarong is a yachtie's replacement for a fluffy dressing gown left at home and will protect your modesty between the head and your cabin. Sarongs are also great for going ashore but do make sure that they comply with local dress codes and by-laws.
4. Light, canvas tote bag. These have multiple purposes. You can put your toiletries and clothes into one if you are using marina showers. Or you can use it to transport fresh fruit and vegetables from the local market. Or you can pop your beach towel, sunblock and a magazine in and head out into a secluded bay accessible only from the sea.
5. Waterproof bag for your money, credit cards and phone. Even a decent zip lock bag will do. You will need this to make sure that your money and phone remain dry in case they get splashed. Your money and phone will be fine even if they end up in the water (in a waterproof bag) for a short period of time.
6. Sun hat. Don't forget to bring one of those. Canvas ones are easy to pack and don't loose shape when squashed in the bag. When you are sailing, sun hat is just as important as sun block - UV rays bounce off the water plus you often can't feel the heat because of the breeze on the boat. Sun hat will stylishly protect you from sun stroke too but beware, sun hats are known for flying off and landing in your boat's wake. Perhaps you should also bring one of those strings with clips on each end to secure the hat to your t-shirt or under your chin.
7. Sunglasses. Surface of the sea is like a mirror and UV rays will damage your eyes if you don't protect them. Also, don't forget to secure your sunnies as they too tend to fall overboard when you lean over the side!
8. Reusable water bottle. Now, do we need to say anything about the single use plastic, pollution and sea animals dying from ingesting it? No? Well, you know the drill then! Just make sure that you have your bottle either labelled or marked with your name.
9. Prescription and over-the-counter medication. Make sure that you bring all your prescription medication in its original packaging. Also, a copy of the prescription issued by your GP may be very useful as laws vary from one country to another and you may need to prove that your medication is legitimately yours. Don't go overboard when stocking up on over-the-counter stuff. Most of it can be bought anywhere but a few band-aids, paracetamol and maybe some burn spray may come in handy. It is extremely important that you put some of your prescription medication into a boat's grab bag when you board. If you don't know what we are talking about, email us and we will explain, or your skipper will at your safety briefing. Also, don't forget to take it out of the grab bag before you disembark!
Here is another tip - Grab Bag is a good place for storing group's passports. Plus, do what airline pilots and other frequent travelers do with hotel safe boxes - put an essential travel item in a grab bag as well (like one shoe you intend to travel in). That way you will remember to take out passports and medication out of it before you disembark!
10. Deck shoes or light soled, non-marking runners will do for hanging around the boat. Any footwear that scuffs, marks or dents the decks is frowned upon and should be avoided. Sandals and flip flops are not the ideal footwear as you can easily stub your toes on cleats and other deck hardware, plus you can sprain your ankle if you slip.
If you have read our tips for organising a successful cruise with friends, you know that you should have your route and points of interest for stops and visits at least tentatively agreed at this stage. This should allow you to start planning which clothes you may need for evenings, historical sites* and other places you intend to visit.
*You may not be allowed into churches, cathedrals and other religious buildings unless your shoulders are covered and you are appropriately dressed. This is common in many countries throughout the world, so keep it in mind and bring appropriate clothing.
Regardless of the season, it is wise to bring a light raincoat and quick drying clothes in general. What you bring is up to you, as long as it fits into a duffel bag which can be easily stored when unpacked. Hard suitcases with wheels are a no-no on any yacht, so treat yourself to a super-cool sailing bag if you haven't got one already.
Last but not least, follow our main rule - we have what we brought, what we don't we'll either do without or buy if we must!
WannaGoSailing.com operate fleets of over 7,000 sailing monohulls, catamarans, motor and classic yachts in 42 destinations worldwide. Contact us today to book your first or next sailing adventure! We promise not to disappoint you!