Packing List For A Sailing Adventure

Packing List For A Sailing Adventure

Congrats, you are going sailing!  But wait, do you know what to bring?  Sailboats are typically intimate (and sometimes awkward) spaces with limited storage.  In other words, this would be a really bad time to over pack.  But, it could also get miserable if you don’t have the right gear.

First, get yourself in the right frame of mind.  Think, wind and water.

Ok, now find out where you will be sailing and turn to our good friend the internet.  Search for weather in that area and read up on what types of weather, humidity and wind conditions you should expect.  If you’re in the tropics, expect unbearable humidity that could make hot days feel oppressive. If you’re outside tropics, expect it to be 10 degrees cooler on the water vs. land.  If you’re sailing in the extreme latitudes…well, you’re hardcore and probably don’t need my packing list.

As for everything else, we’ve tried to think of all the major stuff you’ll want to have with you on the boat and on land.  We can’t speak for other boats but, if you’re coming aboard to join the Curiosity crew, here’s what we suggest.

Tip:  We’ve included some links below to get your search started.  Most links are to Amazon, if you click through and purchase within 24 hours we get a few pennies too, and that’s good karma.

The Super Important Travel Stuff

  • Passport – You won’t get far without this one. It’s a good idea to create digital scans (or take photos) of all your important cards and documents (credit, debit, id, passport) and email or save them somewhere you can retrieve them from any computer.  Hopefully you won’t need it…but better to be safe than sorry.
  • Travelers Insurance – It’s a good idea to have some sort of insurance…because we are going on an adventure and any adventure has risk.  Make sure it covers boating abroad, and not just land based adventures.
  • Cash & ATM Card – A lot of the places we visit don’t take credit cards, so cash is the only way to go. You can also pick up some of the local currency ahead of time at your local bank. Check the exchange rate online before filling your wallet, $10 in your country might be worth $2 or $200 in another country.
  • Medications – If there’s anything you take regularly, get plenty of it and expect getting more to be a challenge. If you even think you might get seasick come prepared with whatever your preferred method is (ginger, Sea Band, Bonine, or the sleep-inducing Dramamine) get it in your system early and have a backup plan (we’ve heard from other sailors the suppository pills work 10x faster than the oral pills).  This is for your happiness and the overall spirit of the crew. When one person is horribly sick it adds a damper to the entire day because everyone is now worried about that person.

Everyday Sailing

  • Suitcases – Soft sided bags only. No rolly bags or hard sided suitcases (Jason says he will leave them at the dock). Space is at a premium and there is nowhere to store hard sided suitcases. Duffel bags, back-packs, or tote bags that can fold or roll up are best.  We like these Compression Packs: or a full on dry bag duffel:
  • Polarized Sunglasses – You will probably want more than one pair. Maui Jim and Ray Ban both make high quality glasses.
  • Hats – Packable, with strings for windy days. Male or Female we have a few hats from San Diego Hat Company:
  • Rain Gear – Waterproof jacket and pants.  If it’s just a week you’ll be fine with just about anything, if it’s long term sailing something better quality like Helly Hansen cost a premium but lasts longer.
  • Gloves for sailing – We find that climbers gloves, or heavy duty work gloves, are great if you already own those.
  • Clothing – Always think breathable, light, dries fast and multi-functional.  Wool (yes wool), linen, bamboo and organic cotton are excellent choices.
    • Bathing Suits – Practically a uniform on a boat and you’ll want at least a couple.
    • Shorts – You will live in shorts and bathing suits most of the time. Board Shorts are great multi-functional pieces.
    • Shirts – tee shirts, comfy lightweight button ups (good for keeping the sun off your skin), long selves for cooler days and sun protection, hoodies or light jackets for night time.  Obviously if you’re visiting higher latitudes in the winter you’ll want a sweater or two.
    • Dress Clothes – The chance of us going anywhere with a strict dress code is slim to none. A decent button down shirt or casual sundresses are fantastic for days/nights on the town.
    • Scarf + Sarong – These are versatile pieces that keep you warm, provide a little sun protection and they look cool.  Here’s a link: Sarongs and Scarves
  • Shoes – If you want to wear shoes on the boat, make sure they are non-marking non-skid. You’ll need to clean the soles each time you board the boat in order to keep the deck clean, or bring a pair for boat use and one for street use. Otherwise, a sturdy pair of sandals and a pair of all-purpose hiking shoes (like these: will do the trick.

The Adventures

  • Camera (extra batteries, cards, etc…)  I like a compact, pro-level snappy cam like this:
  • Sunscreen – All natural, ocean friendly and nothing with bronzer or self-tanners in it (It stains everything). I highly recommend looking over this sunscreen guide and recommended products:
  • Backpack – We suggest a pack that’s at minimum water resistant but preferably waterproof like this one:
  • Lycra or Wetsuit – Lycra pants and top/rash guards or a wetsuit for diving & snorkeling. Also these help protect your skin from coral and sun exposure. Here’s a Link: Rash Guards and Wet Suits
  • Snorkeling/Free diving/SCUBA diving/Spearfishing gear – (tell us what you have, we’ll tell you what to bring.) Keep in mind some countries won’t allow certain items and some airlines won’t allow you to fly with dangerous gear.  We have this mask and snorkel for free-diving and snorkeling about.
  • Diving Gloves – These gardening gloves work well:
  • Extras – If you have a kiteboard, skateboard or surfboard (or anything large/awkward) that you want to bring, that’s awesome!  But let’s discuss it first.  We’ll want to talk it through and make sure we have space for it on the boat.

Fun & Entertainment

  • Favorite Game (cards or a board game)
  • Entertainment – e-reader/podcasts/music/movies (an iPad, Kindle, etc) Download everything while on land, don’t count on internet while we’re sailing.
  • Treats to Share – coffee, beverages, chocolate, gourmet jam…It’s always fun when people bring treats that have a story behind them, it helps kick-start the camaraderie.

Please Don’t Bring

  • Hard sided suitcases or bags with wheels.
  • Flat irons and curling irons are preferably left at home (they draw a lot of power) plus humidity will work against you. Natural hairstyles are best.
  • Fancy High Heel Shoes – one pair is fine for hitting the town but you most likely won’t wear them.
  • Hard Metal Watches/Jewelry – they damage the boat easily and can attract unwanted attention in some countries.
  • Fancy Clothes – sports coats, anything that needs dry-cleaning or special care.

Did We Miss Anything?

We’re still newbies and learning as we go.  So, we definitely don’t have it all figured out and are always happy to hear suggestions.  If you think of something we should add to the list, please let us know!

Want to know what to expect when coming aboard?  Check out this post:  Coming Aboard S/V Curiosity – What You Need to Know