Pimp my sailing trip!
June 29, 2010 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Going on a two week sailing trip: What do I need for my comfort and entertainment?

My newish boyfriend is taking me for a two week sail down the coast. We've gone for a few day trips in his 24 foot sailboat, but nothing far from port or comfort. You can regard me as a complete sailing noob.

Firstly, I'd like advice on how to make the boat as comfortable as possible: She's a bit grubby, paint-flakey and cramped in the cabin at the moment, but I'm planning to give her a scrub and a lick of paint. The bed is under construction.

Secondly, what entertainment is good for a boat? We have a 12V solar panel, I won't be bringing the laptop (it's a holiday, after all), and was thinking about starting a big knitting project.

I'm thoroughly excited, but feel like I'm jumping into this with no reasonable preparation!
posted by hannahlambda to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Books generally - but in particular those which help you learn about what you will see around you are always a good start: birds, weather, particular ports, etc. Books on all the stuff associated with sailing (navigation, parts of the boat, knots, etc) are particularly good. Also Binoculars and a a deck of cards perhaps. And knitting - why not?

If you do get bored then ask to take the helm for a bit.
posted by rongorongo at 4:50 AM on June 29, 2010

Best answer: I'd approach it like any trip where the accomodations are unknown. For me, the smell of a place really matters. Bring some fabreeze, bring some disinfectant spray. Make sure there are decent towels and sheets and blankets.

Books would be great - especially ones that you and your boyfriend could either read back and forth, or ones that are targeted to encourage discussion. I'd bring a journal too, and write a little about each day.

If you like that kind of thing, get involved in the food/meal aspect; have some specific meals you want to make laid in?
posted by lemniskate at 5:04 AM on June 29, 2010

Best answer: Get a copy of Ashley's guide to knots, and start learning them. I work around a lot of rope with tons of idle time, and it's always been a great way to while away a few hours....everything from the simple but useful bowline all the way through weaving great decorative pieces.
posted by nevercalm at 5:11 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just spent a week on a boat with my family. Bear in mind I have been racing yachts for 10 years ... but I never actually just cruised.

On Entertainment ...

The radio didn't pick up any stations, nor did the TV, we had no mobile phone reception and, thus, no internet.

I was the only person with a book.

No one brought cards, board games, etc.

After dinner ... which started at sundown and lasted for 90 minutes ... everyone went to bed because there was nothing to do. I read before bed. We awoke at sun-up.

Now your experience may be different ... but under no circumstances forget a deck of cards.
posted by jannw at 5:24 AM on June 29, 2010

Books, cards, board games, musical instruments...
posted by unreasonable at 5:35 AM on June 29, 2010

Cards, books, clothes that dry easily (the interior can be a little damp for cotton to dry nicely).

I really liked having an electronic kettle when I lived aboard, for tea and ramen.

On the food side, I wouldn't get too elaborate for cook-aboard stuff. On a 24 foot boat, it's unlikely to be pleasant to spend extended time in the kitchen.
posted by mercredi at 5:42 AM on June 29, 2010

Response by poster: I forgot to mention: Advice for cooking also much appreciated! The romantic idea is to be frying freshly caught fish over a campfire on the shore with a bottle of rum, but this is probably a bit fanciful. He'd be happy with any old gruel so I think the imagination in the kitchen might fall to me :)
posted by hannahlambda at 5:48 AM on June 29, 2010

Best answer: Well, if you are cooking, a tray to load up and hand through the companionway will save a lot of trips if you are eating in the cockpit.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:55 AM on June 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and if you have an ipod/iphone/ipad, you can preload it with hours and hours of music and podcasts.
posted by nevercalm at 6:31 AM on June 29, 2010

A field guide to seabirds.
posted by rtha at 7:22 AM on June 29, 2010

Best answer: (I don't sail, but I've been on a few scuba liveaboards and a couple of cruise ships ranging in size/amenities from "a few dozen passengers on a Russian icebreaker" to "several hundred in the Greek archipelago.")

On comfort: if you don't already have a wide-brimmed hat or at least a baseball cap/visor, get one. Ideally one with a chin strap so you don't loose it in the ocean at the first breeze. I'm sure you already have sunscreen, but if you find the brand you use to be a necessary evil (i.e. greasy, uncomfortable ... something you'd dislike wearing every day for two weeks), it's totally worth upgrading. Seeking out lightweight sunscreen that I was comfortable in has made a huge difference in out-of-water comfort on more recent trips. Also, if you're planning on swimming a lot, you can find special swimming sunscreens at a local dive shop -- stuff that's supposedly jellyfish repellent, if that's a concern, and stuff that's "reef-safe," meaning the chemicals won't harm sea life.

Bring plenty of waterproof bags, more than you think you'll need, and enough swimsuits (if you're swimming) that you never have to crawl into a cold, wet swimsuit. I usually bring four/five on a dive trip, but I'm in the water every day for more than a week and sometimes change suits at lunch, so YMMV. Again, bring one suit more than you think you'll need.

On entertainment: think about how much physical activity you're going to get, and plan accordingly. Talk to your bf on what to expect. At the end of the day will you want something mentally meaty or just want to veg out? There's no point in filling your suitcase with tons of books if you're only going to get through one. On the other hand, you don't want to be bored. Depending on what you're doing, you may want your laptop anyway just to play movies.
posted by bettafish at 7:41 AM on June 29, 2010

On non-preview, guides to sea birds and any marine life you might see are a great idea.
posted by bettafish at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2010

along with the books on knots, you might want to take Learning To Sail, which is a great book for learning sailing basics (you'll know your forestay from your jibsheet to you boom vang in no time!)
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:50 AM on June 29, 2010

Best answer: Bring books and magazines, music that can be shared, i.e., ipod w/speakers. Bring a basic How to Sail book, and have him help you learn. Also, practice using the radio and learn the man overboard drill.

Bring several strengths of sunscreen, an extra pair of sunglasses, extra cap, extra fleece or fleece tops in 2 thicknesses. Bring a 1st aid kit that contains dramamine, sea bands, and any other seasickness remedies, as well as stuff for insect bites, sunburn, and antibiotic ointment. Bring gloves; biking gloves would work well. Remember to drink plenty of water; it's easy to get de-hydrated. Bring a fleece throw for cool mornings, as well as for making a soft spot for reading.

Food. Look at the many threads on food for camping; it's a similar scenario, but you can pack more. I'd bring some packets of drink mix. Plan at least 1 romantic meal with champagne and candles, if that appeals to you, and 1 picnic on a beach. When I camp, I plan out every meal, with 1 or 2 extras. I feel free to deviate from the plan, but writing it out helps me remember to bring every ingredient. Zip lock bags. Everything will get damp immediately.

Have fun.
posted by theora55 at 7:56 AM on June 29, 2010

binoculars, tape recorder, bongos, guitar, mp3 player, travel board games, a hackeysack, dramamine
posted by WeekendJen at 8:33 AM on June 29, 2010

wine, a journal for daily entries, a fantastic book, music, sunblock, salt/pepper, hat, I'm assuming he has mosquito netting to keep the air flowing at night, PILLOWS, small board games ie travel chess, think camping gear---small items for comfort, bird book, constellation book, binoculars, head lamp for reading etc at night, more wine, wine opener, I'm assuming he has a solar shower etc, dr bronners castille soap is great for scrubbing you and the boat, fly swatter, a good pot and pan and spatula, canned chili, bug spray, bimini.
posted by rabidsegue at 8:44 AM on June 29, 2010

Preparing food in a boat galley can be trying. Lack of space, movement, awkward access to the fridge box with everything kind of piled together... After a couple sailing trips in the British Virgin Islands my then wife and I came up with a solution for breakfast and lunch that worked really well.

We'd prepare in advance a gallon zip-lock bag of items for several meals for each person. For example, we'd make up a set of breakfasts that included a bagel, a yogurt, a plastic spoon, and a couple napkins. In the morning you could just reach into the fridge and pull out two bags and have everything you'd need for two people to have an easy breakfast without rummaging around in cramped spaces trying to find everything, put it together, and the put it away again.

Pack in a soft sided gym type bag. Hard sided luggage won't fit anywhere conveniently.

Buy a Tilley hat.
posted by Babblesort at 8:51 AM on June 29, 2010

Response by poster: Hmm, some good advice here, but I've yet to see a fridge box in the lil boat.. Or a solar shower.. Canned chilli by the bucketload I think! Ziplock bags and soft gymbag packing good tips. I'm trying to think of it as a floating tent :)
posted by hannahlambda at 9:10 AM on June 29, 2010

Do yourself a favor and buy a solar shower then. Hang it outside during the day, shower early evening.

Definitely talk to your bf about the ice box, although it will only last a few days I believe even with big blocks of ice--you'd have to go to shore and refill. What about water? I'm sure your bf has thought of the ice/water thing already if he's planning a trip that is this extended.
posted by rabidsegue at 9:14 AM on June 29, 2010

Unless you know for sure that you don't get seasick under these conditions -- and if you're a sailing noob, you don't know for sure -- bring some Dramamine. It will knock you unconscious, but I've observed people go green as grass, take their dramamine, take their nap, and wake up totally fine for the rest of the voyage.

Socks. Lots of socks. Lots of wool socks. My mother only wears hand-knit wool socks when she's sailing. She and my dad take extended two week sailing trips nearly every year, actually; I should ask them their favorite things to bring along for food and whatnot.
posted by KathrynT at 9:22 AM on June 29, 2010

I've only sailed a little, and never cruised, but I spent a year working as a deckhand on a fishing boat. Three things made life a little sweeter:

1) Playing cards, books, etc. We didn't stray far offshore, so we always had local radio. Here in SoCal, KNX used to rebroadcast old timey radio dramas and comedies, and that's how we'd end the evening. The Lone Ranger. Jack Benny. Burns and Allen. Suspense. Dragnet. Most nights I'd accompany the radio shows with a couple Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies topped with a spoonful of peanut butter. Fantastic!

2) Good food, competently prepared and cold beer. It's not easy to cook on a boat, so keep it simple. But if it's wholesome and warm and filling it'll taste wonderful, just like meals made while camping out taste wonderful. A cold beer is sunset's sweetest complement.

3) Warm dry clothes to change into every evening. I kept a couple of pairs of socks, a pair of sweatpants and a T-Shirt tucked away in my bunk where'd they'd never get wet. I'd change into them only after my chores on the deck and in the cabin were done, usually after I'd cleaned up after dinner.

Of those three, I'd say the third -- warm dry clothing -- is the most essential.
posted by notyou at 9:34 AM on June 29, 2010

a useful previous question on couples sailing

-Simple snacks that are easy to eat and won't blow away, eg nuts, dried fruit

-I find sailing dehydrates me like crazy, so keep up with your non-alcoholic liquids

-Make coffee in the morning, you will be loved.

-Sunblock, sun hat with strap, sunglasses, etc. Reapply. Try not to get burned, because it sucks.

-Bring warm enough clothes. I find sailing in the Atlantic off the northern US coast is always much colder than I expect.

-If you have long hair, expect to put your hair up most of the time. Leave-in conditioner can be a godsend, allowing you to comb out the windy tangles (and put it up in a ponytail/braid/bun) without wasting precious fresh water on showering.

-Clothespins for putting up towels/swimsuits etc to dry on the lifelines if you're swimming.

-Dramamine/Gravol: yes. Even the most experienced sailor can get struck with seasickness and there's nothing you can do but wait it out. Some people do better sitting up top looking at the horizon, some do better lying down in the cockpit, some do better below; find what works for you. Shade and a cool washcloth to the forehead helps too. Remember it's ok to barf if you have to, sometimes that makes it better.

-Playing cards, Scrabble, that sort of thing. Low-key. Field guides are great.

-When you get aboard, before you leave, stow everything intelligently. Things will roll away, escape, get wet or broken if you don't stow them properly.

-Learn how the head and the shower and the fresh-water tank and the bilge pump (if you have these) work. Familiarize yourself with the chart of where you are and where you're going.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:02 PM on June 29, 2010

I spent six months living on a yacht, and also asked a question about what to take.

Seasickness medications - definitely if you are at all prone to it, I've seen a few people who don't seem to get sick at all, but most people have the odd occasion (or if you're me, all the time). For me, knitting wouldn't have been a great project as it is the sort of thing that would make me ill. I'd also be wary about painting the boat if it is very close to your departure. Fumes are another great inducer of seasickness.

Headscarf - I had a couple of those bandana things with elastic that you can tuck underneath a ponytail to hold it on. Great if you can't wash your hair that often.

Wouldn't bother with either books on knots or books on sailing. For me, neither made as much sense as being shown. Get your boyfriend to show you a bowline.

Rather than a tray for passing things up to the cockpit, use a plastic tub with sides a couple of inches high. Stops everything sliding off when you suddenly hit a wave. French press for coffee is good.

Be wary about electronics and check with your boyfriend before plugging anything in. You don't want to flatten the batteries.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:00 PM on June 29, 2010

Response by poster: Just to follow up (if anyone cares!), it was one of the best holiday's I've ever been on, and barely got 200 miles from home. Didn't need much at all - some absorbing books, phone was mostly off, a grill pan for cooking freshly caught fish, seasickness tablets, audiobook of Treasure Island... A book on basic dinghy sailing helped me with the vocab too. Some local history books. Fab. Thanks for the advice guys :)
posted by hannahlambda at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2010

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