BVI Bound

Sailing in the British Virgin Islands

5 things you should take on your next yacht charter that you won’t find on anybody else’s packing list

When we charter a yacht in the BVI, we bring along these unusual, but very handy items. (They are also inexpensive and pack easily, so there’s no reason not to take them!)

Water Bottles. We always carry a water bottle per person. Something unique. That way everyone has their bottle for the week that they can fill up from the gallon water bottles.
Microlight. We use a small colored light that we hang from the bimini on our boat when we leave in the evening. That way we can easily tell which boat is ours on our way home. Even if we’ve had a couple of painkillers.
Dry sack. These are really inexpensive and are great for carrying towels and books in the dingy to the beach.
Soft sided cooler. We use ours to carry some frozen food down with us but more importantly we use it to carry drinks to the beach. Saves us a lot of money.
Thermometer. Boat refrigerators only run when the engine is running. So you need to check them to make sure they are keeping your food cool. The problem is when it’s 80 degrees outside, everything feels cooler. We once lost an entire fridge worth of food, so we always carry a cheap refrigerator thermometer with us now.

That’s my list of what nobody else will tell you to bring but will make your life a lot easier! These things are cheap (except for the cooler) and easy to carry too!

Here’s some other things to consider:

  • Sunscreen. My favorite coral friendly sunscreen.
  • Snorkel gear. Your own mask and snorkel. Check that your charter company will have fins.
  • Kindle instead of 3-4 books.
  • Coleman tent battery light. Good for dinner time or playing games.
  • LED Headlamp for driving the dinghy, grilling at night and shining down on the table during dinner. Or snorkeling at night!
  • Yacht Ensign to hang on your boat. Most common is country and state flags.
  • Marine friendly soap. A bio-degradeable one – this one is our family’s favorite. We usually just use the outdoor fresh water shower, not salt water, to shower in.
  • Glow sticks. To hang in the rigging before going ashore. Makes your boat easier to find at night in a crowded anchorage. (Last time we got these fun flamingo lights. They were fun on the boat but they were too small to see easily from far away.)
  • Fish identification book. It’s fun to look up what you saw while you were diving or snorkeling.
  • Fillet knife. There is never a good knife on board. (We always bring one – it’s very useful even if you aren’t fishing. Like if you get the dinghy’s painter wrapped around the drive shaft.)
  • Baby Powder. A sprinkle on the feet at night keeps the sand out of the sheets.
  • Vise-Grips.
  • Baby wipes. (You use less toilet paper this way. Less stinky trash!)
  • Lots of ziploc bags. (We always bring them from home because the ones we get there don’t seal well. We put our dirty toilet paper in a ziplock before putting it in the trash. It cuts down on smells. You can’t flush your toilet paper on a sailboat.)
  • Duct tape.
  • iPod FM Transmitter to play music through the boat radio. You can get one that plugs into a 12V outlet or get one that runs on batteries. Check with your charter company. Many of them have bluetooth stereo systems now.
  • Powder Gatorade. It’s important not to get dehydrated and powder gatorade is a good way to get people to drink more water – especially kids.
  • Benadryl for allergic reactions.
  • Super Glue
  • Eyeglass Repair Kit. Great idea because your sunglasses might take a beating.
  • Travel coffee mug
  • Personal Water Bottles. We take a unique one for everyone in our group.
  • Several people suggested 40′-50′ of light line.
  • Mesh holder with suction cups to hold binoculars, GPS, VHF, sunglasses, etc. within reach of the helm.
  • Nutmeg Grinder. Lots of yummy drinks include nutmeg.
  • Small dry bags for camera, money, etc.
  • Travel guitar with a removable neck. Assuming you know how to play! If not, a boat is probably not the place to learn!
  • Long barbecue lighter – we usually go through a ton of matches trying to light the grill.
  • Spices pre-measured in ziploc for your meal recipes.
  • Travel towels – they dry quick.
  • The Neat Sheet“, a ground blanket for the beach that can also be used as additional shade.

That should take up at least one suitcase! What else would you pack?