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LIVING ON A BOAT: Everything you must have on board

LIVING ON A BOAT: Everything you must have on board


At the beginning of your nautical “career” packing before setting sail will look like preparation for move of the nation. For every thing you will think: “We’ll definitely need it!” And the result will be a boat filled with things that you will not need, not for one second.

Packing is a great opportunity for quarrels, so it would be a good idea to, even before the start of the  season and first departure, consider your lifestyle at sea, the length of your stay on the boat and some of the challenges that await you and for which you have to prepare the appropriate luggage.

Some things, such as plates, dishes, tools, sports equipment or accessories, can be left on the boat, some must be on board all the time (nautical charts for navigation, safety equipment and the like), and some others you will bring with you every time. Let’shave a look at what you really need.

Clothing, footwear and other textiles

Trust us, less is more! For a holiday on a sailboat or yacht you do not need a new shirt for every day, even less high heels, sneakers, jogging shoes, elegant shoes, ankle boots, pumps, espadriles and everything else that goes with it. Buy yourself good quality nautical shoes, bring with you another pair of flip-flops and that’s it. OK, if you are oneof those who like to run in the morning, take the sports shoes too, and then really close the bag.

As far as clothes are concerned, start with a swimsuit since this will be your main wardrobe for most of your holiday. Along with a long sleeve shirt you will need a wide brim hat to protect you from the strong sun. In the sunny days, you will need some short pants and summer dress when you want to have dinner at a restaurant or take a walk.

For bad weather, prepare a sweatshirt, long trousers and water and wind proof jacket. If you plan on  sailing in the rain and in a stronger wind, a good quality sailing suit and sailing boots are necessary.

For sleeping, besides pajamas, you will need light quilts, sheets and pillows, and towels for the bathroom and on the beach.

Personal hygiene

For showering, tooth brushing and shaving, you will need a toothbrush, a toothpaste, soap/shower gel, a shampoo, a shaving foam and a shaver with cartridge, and the personal hygiene supplies must also include moisturizing creams for the skin (because of wind and sea exposure) , sunscreens and sanitary towels or tampons. Among the more important things is the toilet paper, the best would be special one for the boat’s toilet.

Food, drink and other supplies

Food is a very important part of life at sea. Before departing, the chef must prepare a meal plan and buy sufficient supplies, so it is best to arrange a crew meeting and agree on all wishes and limitations (diets, allergies, etc.). Main meals are breakfast and dinner, and lunch is often something “just to get by” because during the day you are busy sailing or swimming. Bread is bought every second or third day, also some kind of fruits and vegetables. Store all foodstuffs safely, in a cool and dark place, so they don’t go off after the first day.

Kitchen – tips & tricks

  • Refrigerator – do not expect the same performance as with the one at home. In the marina it works better, but at 12 V it can happen to quickly run its power, so do not overdo it with the opening every five minutes.
  • Plates and cutlery – the best are special “nautical” plates, made of special plastic, lightweight and durable. Do not use disposable plastic plates and tableware since they are very harmful to nature.
  • Glasses and cups – plastic glasses are an excellent solution at the beginning, but it is a different feeling to drink wine from a real glass. Make sure that all glasses and cups in the cabinets are really safe, that they do not break when sailing. The cups should be a little bigger so that they can be used for coffee or tea.
  • Knife – king of the kitchen!!! In the ship’s kitchen you must always have at least one sharp knife, and even better a set of knives for bread, meat, fish, vegetables and such.
  • Dishes – you need at least two pots (big and small, and even better, three pots), coffee pot, big and small frying pan. Do not fill all the cabinets in the kitchen with dishes, because it does not make any sense, but learn to cook dishes, which you can prepare with as little pots and pans as possible.
  • Food preparation – cutting boards, strainer, grater, potato peeler, spatulas, ladles, wooden spoons, and for more versatile chefs, maybe a rolling pin, mixer and potato masher. To prepare some dishes or serve salads, get a bowl. Plastic, of course, not a ceramic one.

Sport and fun

The main element of fun and sports is the sea or water, so you will adapt most of the equipment to it. Choose SUP, ABC diving kit (mask, snorkel and fins), ball, fishing rod, water skiis and other toys that you can pull with a speedboat. As with food, when it comes to sports equipment carefully choose what you will take on board since there is no garage or basement on the boat. Do not forget about the bad weather days when various board games (chess, monopoly …), books and comics, sudoku and crosswords and, naturally, all electronic toys would come in handy. If you are considering a bike, pick a small and foldable one, because it will take up much less space.


When it comes to equipment, every sailor needs something else, and this depends largely on the type of vessel and the frequency of sailing. The basic everyday equipment consists of a phone, a camera, a Swiss Army knife or a multifunctional knife, a cigarette lighter, a sewing set (needles and a thread), a charger (phone, camera …), flashlights, sunglasses, tool box, binoculars, pilots and many other things. At each sail there will be something bothering you and something missing, so your personal equipment list will only be formed after the first or even the second nautical season.


It is best to have all the documents in the waterproof bag or box. The most important documents are:

  • Personal documents (passport, ID card, driver’s license, boat license, maritime communication specialist certificate, international travel and health insurance, etc.)
  • Vessel Documents (registration, insurance)
  • Money and credit cards

First aid and ship pharmacy

The basic first aid kit is necessary, since you are bound to get injured but will not need a doctor. Other hazards are sun heat (burns or even heat stroke), dangerous and toxic sea animals, food or drink poisoning, and the like.

In the ship’s pharmacy there should be pure alcohol, medicines for lowering temperature, against nausea, vomiting, allergies and pains, creams or gels for insect stings and burns of jellyfish, medicines for stomach problems, diarrhea and dehydration agents. For sun protection you need high-quality sunscreens with a high protective factor (at least 20) and sunburn gels.

Not to forget…

If you are worried about forgetting something very important, start compiling the list. You can add or take away things from it as days go by (as with the equipment list), and the result will ultimately be your ideal list of everything you wish to take with you on the boat.

Of course, you can store some things on your boat so you do not have to carry them every time. In such case, remember to leave the boat ventilating the interior (without the possibility of water or animals, such as mice, rats.. getting in), thus preventing the appearance of bad odor or even mould, make sure all food is well closed and do not leave anything in the fridge or in the closets that could rot and go bad.


Tekst: Matej Ogorevc

Foto: Depositphotos




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