Planning your bareboat sailing vacation is great fun and knowing what to pack for travel to the Caribbean
is important. Space aboard the boat is limited, so the very best piece of advise I can offer is to travel lightly ... very
Finding space for hard sided luggage aboard a yacht can be a major challenge. Some of the charter companies don't have room to store luggage, so be prepared to take it with you. Get yourself a duffle bag with wheels. They are easy to handle and very easy to stow. Something like this
is terrific, but there are lots more affordable duffle bags available almost anywhere.
While in the BVI, you will live in your bathing suit, t-shirt & shorts. Do not
over pack. If you really feel you need foul weather gear, get a 10 gallon garbage bag, cut 2 slits for your arms and one for your head ...et voilá! It rarely rains for more than 5 minutes at a time so why bother with a bulky jacket?
Carry On Bag
If you have read our travel tips
section and are already aware of the "Caribbean luggage demon"... then you know to bring a carry on bag with you. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best
. Pack an overnight kit with essentials to get you through a 24 to 48 hour period.
- *Essential* personal grooming products.
- 1 complete change of clothes.
- Bathing suit.
- Sun hat.
- Soft soled shoes or flip flops if you aren't already wearing them.
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses & sunglasses. Don't forget your croakies!
- 1 lightweight sweater or sweatshirt.
- Kindle, IPad, IPod, phone, laptop & charger. ITrip if needed.
- Camera and charger.
- Sailing gloves.
Anything else you can't do without for a day or 2 ... or anything too valuable to be packed in your checked luggage.
Checked Luggage - Personal Items
Keep shoes to a minimum when travelling. Two or three pairs is all you will need ladies. Shoes take up too much space in your luggage. Bring sandals for the beach, reef shoes if you plan to walk in areas near shore that may be somewhat lumpy and a pair of comfortable shoes to wear in transit. Most people just go barefoot on the boat, but I suppose a good pair of topsiders would be fine and could do double duty for when you are in transit.
- Other personal grooming items not essential in your carry on bag.
- Spare swimsuit. Don't forget you have a bathing suit in your carry on.
- Beach wrap for ladies.
- Socks and underwear.
- T-shirts, tops & lightweight long sleeved shirts/blouses.
- Quick-drying shorts for the boat and dressier shorts for shore excursions.
- 1 or 2 pairs of long slacks. Jeans only if they are lightweight. It gets hot in the BVI!
- 1 or 2 (collared) shirts or blouses if you plan to dine out at an upscale restaurant.
- 1 lightweight sweater or sweatshirt.
- Lightweight, waterproof jacket or garbage bag with holes cut out for head and arms.
- Books, magazines, puzzle books, etc.
Checked Luggage - Handy Items
- An inexpensive Leatherman. Pack it in your checked luggage. TSA will confiscate it if stowed in your carry on. If you have an old Leatherman, break the knife off and carry it on the plane with you. As long as there is no knife, TSA shouldn't pose any problems.
- If aboard a yacht without a generator, it is a good idea to bring a power converter/inverter for any small electrical devices that you may wish to bring. You can find an inexpensive, 300-watt inverter that can be plugged into the onboard, 12-volt cigarette lighter almost anywhere.
- 360 degree white light for nighttime use on your dinghy. Navisafe provides a Coast Guard approved, 360 degree light that is ideal for this purpose and it can be used hands free by simply wearing any old baseball cap. Bring it with you. It fits in your pocket and is 100% waterproof. It's also great for BBQ-ing at night. Sorry, can't make their link work. Tired of trying.
- If you no longer have the upper body strength of a 20 year old, you may want to bring along a sea step made by C Level to help you get back into your dinghy from the water. It's just a one foot step "ladder" (so to speak) made out of webbing material that can be mounted on the dinghy. If chartering with TMM, don't bother ... as they provide a ladder in all their dinghies. Don't bother with the two step model either. it is redundant. The one step works just fine.
- Waterproof carrying containers such as Dry Bags or just thrown in some double zip lock bags. They usually work quite well provided you check for leaks first.
- Rather than lug around a bulky towel, I carry a personal Chamois. The Sammy towel is a great product for swimmers. It soaks up all the water, keeping your beach towel dryer and a lot less salty. Just rinse in fresh water every day, wring it out and you are good to go. You can even get some tie dyed shammies that are pretty cute.
Microfiber travel towels are also handy to use as beach towels if your charter company doesn't provide them. Most don't but Horizon Yacht Charters do.
There are lots of them on the market. Look for ones that come in a carrying pouch that breathes and provides a method to hang it to dry on the boat. McNett has several that are pretty good and they come in various sizes.
Parasheet is made out of parachute silk. Sand doesn't stick to it which is a huge plus when aboard a yacht! It's easy to pack and is very light. It dries in minutes too. The only thing I don't care for is that it sticks to your skin.
- You may believe I am contradicting myself about traveling lightly when I tell you this item weighs 6 pounds. Personally, I feel the Breeze XL Sport Brella is worth its weight in gold. After all, there's a reason you are packing lightly ... and it is so you can include items such as this. If you are anything like me and can't sit in the sun for very long but want to enjoy the beach with everyone else, this is the ticket!
- Hammock Bliss makes an ultra light 13 oz. hammock (made out of nylon parachute material) which is great to use on the yacht when at anchor. It is strength tested up to 350 pounds. If you want to use one for overnight sleeping purposes, get one with a built in mosquito net.
For the Kids
Please leave items such as crayons, coloured pens and markers at home. We have had a few "Picassos" decorate their cabins in the past. That's an expensive fix mom & dad! :)
- The charter companies all supply children's life jackets but if you have particularly small children, you may want to bring your own to ensure a proper (and comfortable) fit. The ones supplied by the charter companies are the horse collar type and are not very comfortable. Click here (PDF document) to see the various types. You don't want to have a hot and cranky child tugging and pulling at his life jacket all day!
- Favourite plush toy or blanket if he/she has one. Any other toy they can't be without.
- For the beach, bring along a frisbee, plastic shovel, sand moulds, beach ball, splash balls, ring toss game or dive balls, water wings.
- A deck of cards, books and puzzle books.
Travel sized board games such as qwirkle, rummikube, chess, checkers, othello, scrabble, cribbage, boggle, upwords, battleship, ingenious, blokus, etc. A game of twister is always fun too. Electronic games if you really must.
No water guns please ... or anything even remotely shaped like a gun. It doesn't matter how brightly coloured they are, they are illegal in the BVI. Don't ask ... I have no idea why!
If you have any suggestions as to how to improve upon our packing list or have handy items to suggest, please drop us a line and let us know!