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Traveling On A Sailboat: What To Bring

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Are you planning a sailing trip? Regardless of the length of the trip, there are certain items you should bring along on a self-skippered, bareboat charter. While your charter company should be your direct resource, it's important to know what amenities and equipment are included and what's not on a bareboat charter. Along with your food and drinks, here are a few suggestions on what to bring on your next sailing trip.
Foul Weather Jackets (credit: Randy Yagi)

Even if you're traveling for an extended period of time, you don't have to bring a "boatload" full of clothes. However, you must bring items like a foul weather jacket to protect you from the elements as an outer layer regardless of the weather forecast. Depending upon the time of year and the location of your trip, you may also have to bring additional layers of clothing, such as a fleece jacket, a sweater, base layers or long underwear and mid layers, along with other protective gear such as gloves and thermal beanies.

You'll also want to bring along one or two pairs of comfortable pants, like cargo pants or fleece pants. Another smart choice is a pair of cargo pants made of a quick drying material, running tights and rain bibs for stormy weather. On the other hand, if you're expecting warm weather throughout the trip, you'll want to bring along a few shorts and t-shirts, polo shirts or blouses. Additionally for women, sarongs are a great way to look fashionable.

If you plan on swimming, you should also bring along a couple of swimsuits, in addition to items like swim goggles, fins, snorkels, a wetsuit or springsuit. Whatever you decide to bring along, it should all fit in one waterproof duffel bag.

Related: How To Stay Healthy When Traveling

Athletic Shoes (credit: Randy Yagi)

You don't necessarily need to purchase expensive technical footwear that cost hundreds of dollars. Any type of footwear you do bring should offer protection and reliable traction to maintain your footing. Running shoes are great to have around on an extended trip, especially if you plan to do some exploring onshore. However, there are boating-fishing specific athletic shoes designed for quick drying and ventilation, along with excellent cushioning and traction. Lastly, if you're planning to do some beachcombing, don't forget to bring along some flip flops and maybe some sandals.

Hats (credit: Randy Yagi)

What headwear you bring is also dependent upon the weather and destination. If there's a possibility of inclement weather, you might want to consider bringing a protective helmet in addition to optional items like quick drying thermal beanies or headbands. On the other hand, if the forecast calls for warm and clear days ahead, a crew cap or sun hat may be sufficient.

Sunglasses (credit: Randy Yagi)

To protect your eyes from the sun's glare and for better visibility, one or two pairs of sunglasses are essential. Whatever the make or model, sunglasses should be impact resistant and have polarized lenses to protect you from harmful UV rays

Abound Berries and Nuts (credit: Randy Yagi)
Food, Water And Kitchen Supplies

Plan on bringing enough food and water to last the entire trip and then some. Before you set out for the grocery store, prepare a shopping list of food items you'd like to bring. However, some of your food items should be non-perishable, such as trail mix without added salt like those from Abound, canned tuna, peanut butter, dried beans and pasta. If you don't have a kitchen and other amenities on your sailboat, then plan on bringing items like trash bags, zip locks, paper towels, toilet paper, dish detergent, bottle openers, corkscrew, pots, pans and utensils. You may wish to bring other items to drink besides water, such as beer, wine, tea bags, coffee and other drinks. Most importantly, above all other items, make sure you bring a sufficient amount of water to sustain you and everyone else on the trip. Instead of buying cases of bottled water, try using larger water containers like the five gallon products offered through a reliable retailer like West Marine. A few final items worth taking along include at least one fishing pole and a tackle box.

Medical Kit and Carbon Monoxide Detector (credit: Randy Yagi)
Emergency Supplies

While your sailboat may already be equipped with emergency supplies and a first aid kit with sunscreen, motion sickness pills and other essentials, there are certain items that definitely need to be on board. Personal flotation life preservers, life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, distress lights, smoke signals, sound producing devices, a whistle or air horn and safety harnesses should all be present on board. Prior to departure, a complete safety check must be made of all emergency equipment as well as your communication and navigational devices.

West Marine Waterproof Dry Pak (credit: Randy Yagi)
Other Supplies

Even if your sailboat is equipped with a GPS, you still may wish to bring along a backup, such as the handheld or wearable devices from retailers like Garmin. You're likely to bring your smartphone (and your charger) with you, so if you haven't already, invest in a dry pak like those offered by West Marine Lab or a waterproof case. Other smart choices include binoculars, a compass, waterproof camera and flashlights with extra batteries.

Related: Travel Snack Ideas For The Whole Family

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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