A good crew knows what to pack:
• Soft vinyl waterproof duffel bag with no wheels. Wheels leave marks on hull
liners and cabin
soles. Ortlieb or Northface make good dry sacks.
• Personal life jacket or vest, one that is inflatable
and has a crotch strap and harness built-in. A personal strobe light, small personal EPIRB
, a loud whistle are good things to attach to the life vest. Check with your airline about flying with a gas cartridge for your life jacket.
• Sleeping bag with cotton insert I recommend a full-size sleeping bag, not a mummy sack. Coleman makes different models of sleeping bags that can keep one warm down to -30F. A flat cotton bed
sheet sewn on three sides, leaving one end open can be used for an insert for more comfort and it is easier to remove the cotton insert and wash it, than to wash the complete sleeping bag.
• Pillow (feather pillows can be compacted more than a Hollofill pillow)
• Unbleached wool socks (US Navy
issue socks can be found online from army surplus suppliers for around $6 a pair)
• Silk long underwear and undershirt, one can also use merino or alpaca wool which is quite soft and doesn’t itch) silk and wool are warm when wet
• Heavy weight wool sweater (US Navy
issue mock turtleneck sweaters are great, but any thick wool sweater will suffice)
• Heavy weight wool pants (German army battle trousers with dacron from the front of the upper thigh to below the knee are less than $40 and suitable for cold weather when there isn’t too much water
• Silk scarf for neck (white aviator’s scarves can be found on the internet
for around $25)
• Wool watch cap or warm hat of your choice (US Navy watch caps itch but they don’t blow off in a strong wind
and there are merino or cashmere watch caps available
• Foul weather jacket (this is no place to pinch pennies). Henri Lloyd, Musto make top of the line gear
with features that make the investment worthwhile. Foul weather pants (see above - consider a pair with a unzippable fly. Having to remove all your gear
just to have a pee is a real nuisance )
• Sea boots (DuBarry or Musto make Gortex and leather boots that while they are pricey, they are more comfortable than all rubber boots. I do wear white shrimper’s boots, which are white because they are cooler to wear in the hot sun on a hot deck
. They also don’t leave black marks on the boat’s deck
. They are also called butcher’s boots.
• Deck shoes for when the weather is warm and dry. Not to be worn on land, street shoes not to be worn aboard
• Several cotton underpants, several cotton undershirts
• Large rubber gloves with wool gloves as liners. (wool dries quickly and is warm when wet) This is the best system to keep your hands dry and warm. I haven’t found any really waterproof sailing gloves
• Two pairs of eyeglasses if needed for distance or chart reading
• Two pairs of sunglasses
• Some kind of retainer attachment method for glasses
• Seasickness meds of your choice, even if you don’t think you get seasick, one should have some along anyway. Scopalomine patches are best for most sailors, but one who is susceptible to seasickness should experiment
with different compounds or other techniques to avoid this annoying problem.
• Headlamp for night reading
• A personal hand-held GPS
• Folding knife with locking blade, best is an automatic knife with a serrated blade for cutting lines.
• Personal music
player with headphones
• Eyeshades and earplugs
• Keeping all your kit IN your bag at all times and not leaving dirty socks lying around the cabin
makes one a desirable crewmate. Often, I tell the crew that stray or roaming personal items will be confiscated and auctioned to the highest bidder at the end of the cruise. Proceeds going to the fuel
• Personal hygiene: package of butt wipes for washing
feet, etc. Soap and shampoo, not all marinas
supply these items for their guests, personal hygiene is important for the comfort of all.
Note: for older sailors suffering from prostate issues, various seasickness meds can severely aggravate the problem, completely preventing one from peeing. I have added two Foley catheters to my medicine kit and if one isn’t sure that a catheter will be available, one can bring some of one’s own.
If you carry an umbrella, it usually won’t rain.