Sailing essentials: don't forget to pack these things

Sailing for the first time and wondering what to bring and what to leave at home? Check out our recommendations and suggestions from experienced sailors to make sure you don’t overlook a thing

Setting sail for the first time and not sure what to pack? We've put together an ultimate guide to sailing essentials to ensure you'll have everything you need on your voyage. So, let's dive in!

Before setting sail 

When taking over the boat take copies of the documents that you sent to the charter company (crewlist, booking confirmation, insurance) and don't forget your valid captain's license. If you're travelling to Croatia, take a valid radio operator license.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Don't have your skipper's license yet, but want to spend more time at sea? Get your boat license with us! We offer captain's exams, sailing courses and voyages to refresh your skills.

Above all, yachting clothing has to be functional

Above all, yachting clothing has to be functional

During the voyage


The voyage itself is, for the most part, a holiday by the sea so you should pack accordingly. Just keep in mind that most of the time will be spent on board and storage space is often limited. In fact, after your first voyage, you’ll discover that half the things you'd taken the first time you didn’t even need.

Swimwear is necessary, then summer clothes and don't forget about deck shoes — the deck is not always the ideal temperature plus it gets slippery. The shoes must have a light sole so as not to leave marks on the ship’s laminate but they should not slip either. Shoes like these are versatile for the summer.

However, keep in mind that the weather may not always be sunny and can occasionally be rainy and windy. Definitely pack a waterproof jacket and a hat. Headgear will also come in handy for sunny weather.


If you get sunburned on the first or second day at sea (which happens a lot), a long-sleeved shirt will keep you cool while protecting your sunburned skin.

Sunglasses are a must. The sun is intense at sea, and the ocean surface reflects its rays, so if you don't wear sunglasses, you'll regret it. It's a good idea to wear your sunglasses on a cord around your neck so you don't lose them in strong winds or while moving around on board.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Do you want to buy sailing clothes and you are not sure what to buy? Try our guide to choosing yachting apparel. And we'll give you advice on choosing a life jacket.


Here, a lot depends on how often you want to moor at marinas and small towns along the coast. In general, however, we recommend meals that can be made quickly and serve the entire crew. 

  • It’s best to plan for your basic menu before you travel and have a backup plan if things don’t go as planned, and you have to improvise.
  • Definitely buy water for the voyage in the marina before setting sail. A trolley is available and you can bring the whole cargo to the boat. Count on at least with 1 L of water per person per day. For 8 people for a week that works out as 56 L of water, i.e. 37 plastic bottles of 1.5 L. Don't get this at a small island shop where you’ll be paying at least double.
  • Use local fresh ingredients - fresh seafood or local fruit and vegetables make a great addition to the menu. 

YACHTING.COM TIP: What to eat on board? How best to cater for the crew, where to shop, what to cook and how to account the costs at the end? Find answers to all these questions in our article Eat, drink, sail.


We definitely recommend taking some cash with you, although this depends on how often you plan to stop off in populated areas and take advantage of restaurants along the coast and in small towns. In the morning buy some supplies at the market — fresh seafood and the local fruit and vegetables are definitely a must. 

In Croatia, for example, you can’t go wrong with euros and you’ll find an ATM in every marina, where you can take out the local currency. When selecting the local currency from ATMs always choose to be charged in the local currency (no conversion). This will leave you about 10 % better off.

 Don't overlook these useful tips:

On board the boat

Ideally you will be enjoying yourself most of the time on board where you won’t need much more than swimsuits and sunglasses. But for a change when at anchor, bring basic diving equipment —  mask (goggles), flippers and a snorkel. Below the surface, you'll discover a fascinating world. Boats often come equipped with binoculars, but they don’t always have the best parameters or condition. If you have some of your own, don't forget them — where else to use them than on the deck of a boat?

First aid kit

It’s certainly a good idea to bring basic medical supplies. You probably won't forget the medications you take regularly or if you suffer from allergies but also bring medicine for basic health problems you may encounter — fever, sunburn, diarrhoea or seasickness. Occasionally you will come across mosquitoes when anchored, forcing many a sailor to change bays. This is not always the case but repellent will always come in handy. Definitely bring along sunscreen with a high protection factor (min. 20) and protective lip salve.

YACHTING.COM TIP: Are you a new sailor or are you going on a boating holiday for the very first time? Read our step-by-step guide to renting your first boat (even without any paperwork). First time on a sailboat: 10 things you need to know before you depart explains exactly what to expect, how to prepare and how to conduct yourself on board so you won't be the "rookie".

All crew members should know the location of the first aid kit on board

All crew members should know the location of the first aid kit on board

Tips from experienced sailors

We also have advice on things to bring that, although may not be absolutely necessary, might simplify your time aboard.

Adapters and power bank

There are 12 V sockets on board a boat (same as the cigarette lighter in your car), and so we recommend having a converter to 220 V, or a USB car charger and enough cables. However, you should charge primarily when travelling by motor and in marinas, because you could easily "knock out" the ship lights. So you'll appreciate a power bank.

Flashlight or headlamp

Again the boat often comes with a flashlight but it isn’t always possible to rely on it, and if there are minor repairs to be done, night sailing or travelling to the mainland and back, a good flashlight comes in handy.


Take fingerless cycling gloves (even old ones) — when working the ropes, you’ll be glad you have them!

Gloves can protect against possible rope burns

Gloves can protect against possible rope burns

Waterproof bags

There is water around the boat and occasionally water on the boat itself. An unsealed window when heeling or a large wave can cause a stir and there is nothing easier than keeping something like a phone in a waterproof case.

Clothes pegs

Trust us, you will be drying clothes or towels on board and you really don’t want to lose them.


Do you have a walkie-talkie at home? These are fantastic when on a sailing trip. For example, you can communicate with each other on car trips and on excursions when you stop off somewhere.

Even the whole crew should know how to handle the radio

The whole crew should know how to operate the radio

And what else can we recommend? Why not rent an inflatable paddleboard or subwing? They'll provide you with endless fun.

Do you want advice on choosing a boat? Leave it to me.