First time on a boat: what to bring

Once you have got the right clothing, made yourself familiar with the parts of a boat and gained some basic orientation on it, you probably can’t wait to get started properly. But hold on a bit – beyond the rigging, the sails and your personal gear, there are some other items you should think getting hold of before you go aboard. Consider the following points to be a checklist of things to bring for every trip – if not already in the boat.

Checklist of items to bring for your trip

1.) The wind could stop blowing – bring a paddle! Rather than getting stuck somewhere far offshore, you can then paddle back. That might be laborious and anything but fun, but it is still better than just sitting and waiting for wind. As a quicker alternative – recommendable especially in areas with frequent changes in the wind conditions – you can bring a pair of oars. Make sure that there are rowlocks to mount them on the hull.

2.) You could take up some water – bring a bucket, bailer and sponge! Many modern boats and cruiser yachts are equipped with fancy automatic bailers that will keep your hull neat and dry. Most small dinghies are not that well equipped and it will be up to you to bail by hand if you hit a big wave or get into heavy weather. Sailing gear specialists offer scoop bailers.

They are not much more than a plastic cup with a handle – you can easily use a canister (for example an empty, large milk container) which you cut open on one end. That should do the job easily as well as the “professional” scoop bailers. Before you start, check if the boat has transom flaps to release larger quantities of water before you start bailing manually. If you have to bail by hand, do so leeward – otherwise the wind might blow the water back into the boat. Finish the business with the sponge if you are very anal about sailing in a dry environment.

3.) There will be things you want to keep dry – bring plastic bags! Very convenient for that purpose are zip-lock bags for small items and food. Even your wallet, paperwork or additional clothing might be very grateful for the zip-locks in case you get that enthusiastic about great wind that you forget about keeping an eye on your stuff. Larger items such as shoes or blankets fit well into garbage bags. Bring rubber-strings to “seal” them if needed.

4.) Sailing can be exhausting –bring food and drinks as appropriate! This might sound a bit silly and motherly, but since it is a checklist, we wanted to include this. After all, sailing is for fun and joy, and doing it when you are hungry or thirsty is no fun. Thermos bottle can keep drinks hot for hours, which might make them lifesavers – if not in the literal, then at least in the metaphorical sense. Empty plastic bottles (such as Gatorade-bottles) are very robust and virtually unbreakable even at low temperature. Don’t say that we encouraged you to bring beer, but quite frankly: bring beer!

5.) Even the coolest trip will come to an end – bring an anchor! With most boats this point will be redundant, since they generally come with anchor and rope anyway. Nevertheless, do make sure that you got an anchor, otherwise you might end up at this amazing island with palm trees, white sands and a volcano in the background – but with no way to anchor the boat during your stop-over…well, maybe we are going a little too far here.

However, you really should make sure to bring an anchor and rope especially if you sail in an ocean with tidal movement. This will allow you to stop the boat in case of an emergency, during calm weather or if you want a break without being drifted away. There are foldable, light anchors available that are appropriate for purposes named above. They take only little space and for “proper” anchoring, as for over-night stays on a cruise, you should not rely on light anchors, but read into “real” anchors.

Further Reading on sailing gear

Sailing gear in the Yahoo! Directory

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