26 Jun How to pack for a sailing trip
Being the seasoned sailor that I am now, I wanted to do a post on how to pack for a sailing trip, for those that are considering this venture for the very first time. You can be as sceptical about the ‘seasoned sailor’ part, as you please, of course but I definitely noted a few specifics about the prep for this trip that were unlike the considerations I had prior to other holidays.
Now this is a combination of ‘hits’ and ‘misses’ in the sense that I will go through some items/considerations I got right and then mix in a few things I would change for next time.
First things first, our skipper did specify that it would be advisable to bring a soft suitcase, as a hard shell could potentially damage the boat. Having seen first hand what happens when a sailing boat hits particularly choppy waters, I can see how easily damage can indeed occur on a boat, since, if left in the cabin, the suitcases just flap around, hitting every surface they encounter. Note: if you do have it in the cabin, lay it down!
This was brand new information for me, but I had a soft case ready, in any case, since I planned to take only a carry-on, which incidentally is not a hard shell.
On another note, I would pass on any fancy cases you may feel strongly about, as upon unpacking in your cabin, your suitcase will be moved to a separate storage space, which is a hatch somewhere else on the boat and is used to house a few other items, too. So leave that monogrammed carry-all at home.
As I mentioned before, I only took hand luggage for the simple reason that we took a connecting flight and I had zero intentions of dealing with the implications of a potential loss of luggage and facing the repercussions of being on a boat without the necessities (as I doubt the airlines would be chasing us half-way up the Dalmatian coast to deliver the suitcases).
Incidentally, I can’t imagine you would need more than a carry-on for a full week of sailing, based on my experience.
Clearly, I had every intention of enjoying the sun and the sea, as I went a little crazy in the swimsuit department (and brought 8 bikinis with me). Needless to say, they did not all see the light of the day, so next time, I think I may cut it off at 5. Legitimately, you can get away with 2-3, as they dry in a heartbeat but I take my swimwear very seriously.
What I would spare some space for is a one-piece swimmer, or two, for the purposes of comfort and, dare I say, modesty. Diving off the boat is an absolute no-go in a bikini, since collecting the individual items that have the tendency of slipping this way or the other is tricky and nearly impossible to be done discreetly. I have probably never seen clearer water and was acutely aware of possible flashing accidents. Hence, it was ‘canon ball’ all the way.
Cover-ups (multiple) are a must in the scorching sun we have encountered. Because laundry is not always possible, I would probably bring one per day and follow the ‘square-centimeters-coverage’, as the selection criteria. Definitely worth covering shoulders in full, as well as forearms, at the very least. I might be a complete snowflake but most passengers on the boat got some form of sunburn during the trip and they do not all have ivory skin.
Shorts are a ‘no-brainer’, but I think I went a little light there this time around and only got one pair. You get to run around and do stuff every now and it’s infinitely more comfortable to do so in shorts. Another discovery I have made is that it is good to have something between your skin and the teak of the boat, even when simply sitting down. And let’s just leave it at that.
Sports clothes. Because you will encounter great scenery and fantastic terrains for a jog or a run, or might even want to stretch you legs a little every now and again. Sports gear is pretty light-weight and rolls up neatly into the nooks and crannies of your suitcase, so it would be silly not to grab some along.
Now, what I completely failed to take into account is the possibility of poor weather. I had to learn by example that some form of long pants AND a hoodie, or even a rain jacket, might come in handy faster than you can take a nap. We experienced a turn of weather overnight and I was miserably not prepared to be outside during a 2-3 hour trip to the next destination. I have resolved the major crisis, of course, by going to sleep but it would be pretty boring to be lurking in the cabin, when everyone is out on deck. So note to self, warmer clothes are a must, just in case.
Not a clothing item, strictly speaking, but a hat will go a long way. Don’t get attached to it very much, as it may desert you on the way (true story: we practiced a ‘man overboard’ situation fishing a fleeing hat out of the sea once). However, it will do wonders to shelter your face from the scorching sun. And for those with colored hair, I do not need to tell you anything more.
Now, everyone will probably be told at some point that shoes are not allowed on-board. That is a given.
However, flip-flops are still a pre-requisite, as you will need them to use the communal showers and bathrooms in the marinas, at the very least.
Personally, my feet got so used to being bare after a mere 2 days, I did not think I could squeeze them into any kind of restrictive shoes without major resistance. In fact, I have been rocking flip-flops, every day since I returned from the sailing trip and am loving it.
If you imagine you need going out shoes (i.e. heels), reconsider. Everywhere we went in Croatia there was absolutely no reason to wear such items. This included the ‘party island’ of Hvar, where everyone was quite content dancing in seaside bars in totally flat footwear, for the most part.
As far as other destinations go, it is hardly suitable to pack your stilettos for a few fishing villages on islands that may or may not have running electricity, for starters. When you do end up in a more inhabited place though, chances are you will find cobblestone or other unstable roads in your way. Your ankles will thank you for leaving your high heels at home, in any case.
Sports shoes are preferable for the same reason, as I mentioned above. Plus, a more comfortable travelling footwear has not yet been invented, as far as I am concerned.
Ample sunblock. Reapply every two hours, religiously, and do not go below SPF30, even if you fancy a Brazilian tan. I found sailing is conductive to sunburns, as the wind takes away the awareness of how much sun there is, even if its cloudy, and effectively you are surrounded by a massive mirror. I would also stick to creams over oil formulas, as they are more gentle and soothing. You might go for hours without a swim, as you sail, so it is best not to have something that could irritate your skin on you (hard learned lesson by yours truly).
Because of the aforementioned hand luggage route we took, I chose to buy my entire sun protection products at the airport to avoid any security lines hassle. This no liquids rule must stop sometime soon and I have half a mind to start a petition. I am sure lots of ladies out there will back me up on this. End of rant.
On the subject of sun: aloe vera gel, or any other form of post-sunburn treatment you fancy, is a must. Because of the shower situation, I would exclude yogurt from this equation, for those that like it ‘old school’, as you may smell like a kebab for a little while…But in all honesty, our hostess saved a few burns with her bottle of the stuff, whereas my ‘tan extending’ fancy after-sun cream was barely touched.
Sea sickness medications. I know I have a motion sickness issue, so had some handy (and took it religiously every morning). Others that were not aware of such issues in the past found themselves reaching for it too. You might be surprised how quickly your vestibular system will fail you in certain conditions and you really do not want to miss some dolphins pass you by, when you are trying to get yourself together in the cabin.
Anti-mosquito sprays and the post-bite treatments. Take plenty and test drive it before, as it may not be that effective. I took the route of a bracelet for protection and must say its reach did not go further than 1 meter, which is only useful if you plan to be in a fetal position. Spray all the way for me next time. Personally, I kind of had a feeling that skincare and makeup should be kept to an absolute minimum and was proven right. Number one, it is a little tricky to keep up a 7-step skincare routine on a sailing boat. The regime and space are valid restrictions in this case and you will be amazed at how tiring sailing can be. I, for one, could barely muster up the strength to do anything more than brush my teeth before hitting the pillow. Plus, you skin will thank you tremendously for this break.
What I would have done differently next time is get a heavy-duty hair conditioner, as sun/sea/salt simply made a delightful bird’s nest out of my mane, which was absolutely not manageable without industrial-strength tools. Thankfully, I found a sample size of Nuxe’s all-purpose oil to try to salvage it but that was a one-off miracle. On all other days, the product I did have with me was much too lightweight to make any difference.
And this wraps up my guide on how to pack for a sailing trip. I hope some of your will find it useful and will avoid some of the mistakes I have made last week.