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Life on a sailing boat has to be organized and managed even before embarking…

I’ve spent last weekend sailing with some friends and posted lots of pictures on my social accounts, receiving many questions on life on a sailing boat. What to pack, how…

La vita in barca a vela

Sailing in Lanzarote

Sailing tips

A holiday on a sailing boat is unpredictable. For many people is the absolute freedom and for many other a prison and then there are people like me, changing their mind about it several times during the same day…

It goes from the immensity of the horizon outside to the limited space inside. You can discover incredible affinity with strangers and unbridgeable differences with longtime friends. The holiday on a sailing boat, beyond the passion for the sea and this sport, in particular, is a holiday on edge and makes you feel powerful emotions.

Personally, I am on my third long sailing holiday and various short trips like the last one and

… I learned what follows

  • order is a priority: unless you become part of a run-in crew from the notorious collective disorder, you should pay close attention to the order in the common areas. Please do not leave personal belongings on the way to avoid annoying those who already suffer from the lack of shared space
  • respect is a priority: of course, it’s always a priority and not only on a sailing boat, but here you have to pay a little more attention to the feelings of those around you. Avoid loud noises when others sleep, don’t spoil freshwater during navigation or at anchor to allow everyone to have enough of it (there are also marine soaps to rinse with salty water, for instance for cutlery, etc.), avoid conversations about sensitive issues or try not to exacerbate them, but even small details like do not comb in the common areas if you have long hair, or in any case, don’t do that windward (!) …

La vita in barca a vela

  • flexibility is a priority: if the group chooses a route over another, for a certain time rather than another, if the captain makes a decision that does not satisfy you fully, if you are asked to do something on board that does not inspire you too much… (for instance I have a complicated relationship with galley and preparing meals). All possible contingencies that could become a real problem and create tension only if you do not accept them
  • paying attention is a priority: to the boom, to the ropes, to the stoppers, etc., in short, pay attention to what is moving over your head and to where you put your feet and unless it is a very relaxed sailing trip and the skipper allows you to walk barefoot, always wear shoes to protect your toes! It is also a matter of common sense when the boat bends – yes, like a motorcycle but much longer – unless the skipper does not give you different instructions, walk in the upper side…
Un week end con Vento in Poppa

© Tommaso Ricci

  • don’t be afraid of seasickness: actually, I’m not the best person to talk about it because I’ve never felt it, but I have friends who truly love sailing even if suffering from this discomfort, in a particular way below deck, or if they are not busy with some task on board… first suggestion then: if you start feeling dizzy ask the skipper for some task that captures your attention. There are also various remedies. Old shellbacks, for instance, say that salted anchovies and lemon help, but also bread and Coca-Cola. Personally, I would say, “keep busy and fed, and if you are bad, do not stay windward!” 😉
La vita in barca a vela

Somewhere in the ocean

  • don’t be afraid of ground-sickness: and now I know what I’m talking about! I get sick as soon as I disembark, but I’m not the only one 🙂 I usually feel dizzy and have the impression that everything around me moves, well, like on a boat! Nothing dramatic, however, because sailing is worth some vertigo!

What to pack for a sailing holiday

First of all: you need a duffel bag or a backpack 

Space in the cabin is maxed out, and arrange your personal belongings can be like playing Tetris, and you can’t win if, instead of having to put away a soft bag, you have a suitcase or a trolley…

For instance, I use this fantastic Helly Hansen backpack (I actually use it for all my trips as it’s resistant, light, and really comfortable being a backpack opening like a regular bag).

La vita in barca a vela

and during the warm season, I fill it as follows:

  • a swimsuit
  • daily change of underwear and socks
  • daily change of t-shirts
  • a pair or two of shorts
  • a sarong for the bathroom, but also to replace a beach towel
  • a sweatshirt
  • something to go out at night, shoes included
  • flip flops
  • sailing shoes (Converse or Superga with white soles are fine too)
  • K-way
  • microfiber towel
  • silk sleeping bag (I’m using this one, and it’s perfect after several years and lots of trips: Stretch Silk Liner)
  • beauty-case with what I usually need, plus sunscreen, after-sun lotion, and marine soap (this is my favorite: Fa Shower Gel Body Shampoo)
  • sunglasses
  • headband or hat
  • sailing gloves (biker style …)
  • camera
  • iPhone with waterproof case
  • Kindle with waterproof case
  • car charger with required cables (charges during power-driven navigation or if moored in port)
  • external charger
  • baby wipes that I prefer to toilet paper. Toilets on sailing boats have no flush, and you can’t throw anything in it(!), a bit like Southeast Asia or Latin America. That’s why I prefer wipes to avoid unpleasant smells…La vita in barca a vela

 during the cold season, I add/replace:

  • shirts with long sleeves
  • fleece sweatshirt
  • suit
  • pants
  • sneakers
  • waterproof jacket
  • sleeping bag (I still use my silk sleeping bag in it cause more easily washable!)
  • cap
  • gloves
La vita in barca a vela

Sunset in the ocean 🙂

I then pack my “travel medicines”:

  • Aspirin
  • Zyrtec, in case, go allergic reactions
  • Imodium
  • Plasil
  • Gentalyn Beta
  • Voltaren gel
  • Syntex
  • Oki
  • mosquito spry
  • tiger balm in case the mosquito should still bite me…
  • sore throat candies
  • plasters
  • sanitizer gel

Do not hesitate to ask me any questions or doubts, but above all, do not hesitate to embark on a short sailing trip. I’m sure you’ll love it even if life on a sailing boat is not your teacup 😉

La vita in barca a vela

Fair winds (and calm seas)!

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.