Picture this: you’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime to crew aboard a great cruising sailboat. You’ve checked out the passage on the charts, you’re watching the weather reports, you’ve spoken with the captain about the boat’s safety regimen, and you know she’s providing the personal safety gear you’ll need. All that’s left is to pack your duffel. In addition to the essential layers of clothing, here are a few items that will keep you comfortable and happy at sea.
1. Face scrub: To quickly feel refreshed and wash away the sunscreen, bring a tube of face scrub. You won’t regret it. Avoid the type that uses plastic beads as an exfoliant. Opt instead for Desert Essence Facial Scrub, which uses almond meal.
2. Sun-shirt and pants: I never sail without a long-sleeved cotton sun shirt and comfortable long pants. There isn’t any shade on the ocean, and the sun will drain your energy quickly. A sun-shirt will keep you cool and protected.
3. (Prescription) swim goggles: Great for retrieving something that fell overboard at anchor or checking for a hull breach. You can also wear them to protect your eyes when chopping onions in a small cabin.
4. Sarong: Sarongs are for everyone. They pack small and are great multi-use items. They can become a scarf, a skirt when the heat is unbearable, a sleep sheet, a shade tarp, or a headwrap to keep the mosquitoes away.
5. LED headlamp: Headlamps keep your hands free to work. Black Diamond makes one with an optional red light, which protects your night vision.
6. Thermos/water bottle: Klean Kanteens are great for hydration on board because they are a water bottle by day and a thermos with an optional no-spill lid by night.
7. Pack towel: something the size of a bandana. Pack towels such as Aquis Adventure Microfiber Towel or the PackTowl Ultralite dry quickly in salt air.
8. Recipe: If you can cook a fabulous one-pot meal, you can turn a rough day at sea into a celebration.
9. Field notebook: I carry a notebook with me on every passage to note the things I learn from the experience and from others.
10. Knife and marlinspike: A marlinspike is as important as a knife but often forgotten. Attach it to your belt with a lanyard.
Photo by Tom McKenna, Illustrations by Teresa Carey