Sailing: what to pack
What equipment and clothing to bring for sailing – and how much to bring – are always the big questions for crew and we totally understand that. The best generic guidance we can give is to imagine that you are going for a week in the hills or the mountains. If you think of that type of clothing and equipment, you won’t go far wrong. Beyond that we say don’t spend money unless you want to. The chances are that you already have most of what you need and a lot of fancy branded sailing equipment is both expensive and not very good. Especially when you’re fairly new to the sport, keep your money in your pocket.
How much to bring?
The next question is always how much to bring. Within reason you can bring what you like as we have quite a lot of storage space on board the yachts. The usual airport allowance of 20kg / 44lbs of luggage is not a bad guide. Any more than that and you’ve probably over packed!
What should I pack it in?
What you pack your clothing and equipment in is vital. It needs to be in a soft bag that can be rolled away. Yes, that means no metal frames or hard backs. It needs to be in a duffel style bag. If you do bring a hard backed case or bag that cannot be rolled away, there is a good chance you will not be able to bring it on board. We have suggestions of what to use below.
Does what I need change by region, season and type of trip?
Yes, absolutely. For this reason we’ve given two different list: cooler weather and warmer weather. We’ve also given a ‘sailor’s pack’ of equipment that keener sailors, or those coming on more advanced trips, should think about bringing with them.
Don’t worry too much and if in doubt bring more. So long as you have hats, gloves and warm clothes, plus your usual toiletries and such like, you will be fine. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us. We’re here to help!
The sailing equipment we provide
Foul weather clothing
You will be issued with a set of foul weather jacket and salopettes. These are replaced regularly, so you can be sure you will have good quality protection from the elements. If you have your own foulies and would like to wear them or have very high spec ones, then do please bring them.
Crewsaver Ocean Lifejacket
Having vigorously tested all the leading lifejackets in the seas off Iceland, this Crewsaver jacket was far and away the best. You will be issued one for the duration of your time on board.
Fladen Immersion Suit
Fantastically warm, these all in one suits are incredible for when it gets cold up on deck. You will feel toasty warm all day long or through a long night watch. Essential gear for high latitude trips and RIB transfers.
What you need to bring
Bring a fresh set for every day or second day you’re on board.
Bring a mix of thinner socks and some thicker, woolly socks If not a Caribbean style trip. A fresh pair every second day is a good guide.
Thermal base layers
For upper and lower body. Merino wool is excellent but expensive. There are lots of options out there.
Mid layer – upper
Bring a selection of T-shirts, polo shirts or long sleeved shirts. You might be wearing a couple of these at any one time, so bring a few
Mid layer – lower
A pair of thick hiking trousers, fleece lined snow boarding trousers or our new favourite – soft shell trousers. These will be what you wear just about every day, so bring a couple of pairs. Don’t go crazy – we buy ones costing between £50-70 and no more. if you are on a Caribbean style trip then you will probably only need light trousers
Fleeces and jumpers
You need to bring at least two good, thick fleeces or jumpers. These are going to be critical to keep you warm, so choose carefully. We usually pack two mid weight fleeces and one really thick woolly jumper.
Mid weight jacket
You will wear this pretty much every day, only changing up to your foul weather jacket when it rains. Any jacket will do that is shower proof, wind proof and reasonably warm.
These don’t have to be sailing boots – even normal wellies will do fine. You can spend a fortune on Goretex lined sailing boots. They are great, but make sure you are going to be a regular sailor before investing. In the meantime, we’d stick to rubber sailing boots costing around £60.
There’s no dressing up on these expeditions, but bring a selection of shore clothes for the odd evening out. No restaurant owner likes people coming in wearing dirty sailing clothes!
Woolly hat and gloves
We suggest bringing 2 sets of hats and gloves. if one set gets lost or wet, you need to be able to keep warm. We don’t really rate the thick sailing gloves. They are not good when wet, hard to get on and pretty expensive. Instead go for a pair of thinner working gloves and a thick woolly pair.
The classic neck warmer that is a godsend when it gets windy and cold. Swimming costume red and blue Wherever you are, bring one. You may want to jump in even when it’s icy, but also sometimes the best showers are in the local pool.
Great for exploring ashore, trainer style is fine, just something comfortable to do an hour’s hike with.
Great for keeping cool on shore and essential for those dirtier shower floors in some marinas and ports.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to do laundry along the way, so bring enough sets of clothes to last you for the two weeks. You can handwash some essentials if necessary but water is at a premium on board so we don’t encourage this except on the longer trips of over 2 weeks duration. The start and end ports will nearly always have laundry facilities however.
The boats are warm inside, so a medium weight sleeping bag is absolutely fine. If it has a long zip it’s better as it give you more temperature flexibility but don’t worry and don’t spend money that you don’t need to! If you are on a Caribbean style trip you can probably do without a sleeping bag and just use a silk liner or similar. The Caribbean is usually around 75°F at night, but just occasionally it can be colder: the choice is yours.
Toiletries and a towel
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, razor, deodorant and whatever else you need. We would bring a normal towel for comfort, but a travel towel is also good.
Sunglasses and sun cream
Sunglasses are essential at sea for every trip as the UV is reflected off the sea and can damage your eyes. They must be polarised or the damage can be even worse. Good strong sun cream is recommended for the same reason.
Glasses and contact lenses
Life is pretty miserable if you forget these. Get a strap for the glasses in case they fall off.
We pretty much insist you bring some sea sickness medication, even if you don’t think you’ll be affected. This is a holiday for you and feeling queasy is horrible. In the UK, the brands that seem to work well are Sturgeron and Kwells. If you have any other medications such as anti-histamine, blood pressure tablets, insulin, epi-pens etc, please don’t forget these.
Boats have lots of unfamiliar noises and yes, even the occasional snorer. Bring what you need to block out the noise and have a good night’s sleep.
If you’re sailing with us in the high latitudes in summer, the chances are the Sun will never set and it’s hard to get these boats dark. If that bothers you, bring a mask to make the world go dark again!
Phone, camera, laptop
Don’t forget these, but put them in protective casings so they don’t get damaged or broken. Every bunk has two USB charging points, The boat has the UK 3-pin 240v AC power outlets, which can be used when are connected to shore power or when the generator is on. If your equipment has different plugs, bring an adaptor.
The sailor’s pack – for those who want to have some more kit (but absolutely not essential)
Head torch with red light
If your trip has an overnight passage in it, we would really recommend you bring one of these (unless it’s summer in the Arctic with midnight Sun).
Leatherman or similar
These are really useful to carry with you. You’ll use it constantly.
Navionics on your phone
This is an amazing app. The chart pack for your area will cost you about £25 and then you can always see exactly where we are.
Set of small dry bags
The fancy way of keeping your kit divided up, organised and dry.