When people ask me what to bring for a day sail, that’s my response.
Dress in layers, and plan for much colder weather than the forecast say. It can be 10-15°F cooler on the water than on the land—and of course, we always hope for a fresh breeze! This is always the case, but especially pronounced when we go sailing after work: it gets pretty chilly on the water after sunset. My rule of thumb is to look at the “low” forecast for the coming night and plan at least for that. But then again, it’s Boston, so anything could happen. Dress in layers.
On a nice summer day swimming in Boston Harbor is a treat. Bring your swimming dress and a towel, just in case.
Conversely, when sailing during the day, be prepared for a lot of sun! The sun is especially bright on the water, and there is no shade on the boat. Whatever works for you for prolonged sun exposure (sunscreen, hat, bandana, long sleeves...), be sure to bring it.
Sunglasses are recommended, too. Speaking of eyeglasses: if you wear them, get a strap or some other way to keep the on your head. I’ve seen three people to lose their eyeglasses to the sea.
If you suspect you might get a little bit sea-sick, any ginger product (like ginger candies) helps a lot. If you know you will get sea sick, you probably know what helps you (dramamine?). Be sure to take that before we start. If you get sea sick underway, please let me know right away! There are ways I can help.
Water helps for sea sickness and for sun exposure. It’s always good to have some; on a sunny summer day, bring a lot. My friend Liz taught the following trick for a 90-degree day: fill a plastic bottle (or two) with water in put it in the freezer the night before. Bring it with you in a cooler, and then in the afternoon, when everyone else is dying from heat, you’ll drink some delightfully cool water.
Optional on a short after-work sail and required for a longer day sail. Ideally, bring something which does not make a mess and does not generate much trash. (Which reminds me, it’s useful to bring an empty plastic bag to collect trash.) Bonus points to food that can be eaten with one hand.
It is always nice to bring food to share.
Alcohol policy: strictly moderate during the trip, no limits afterwards.
- If you plan to wear a life vest: there are some onboard, but they are bulky and not really comfortable for constant wear. It might make sense to invest in your own. If you don’t know how to swim and want to take an active part in sailing, you probably should be wearing a life vest. If you are 14 or younger, you should be wearing a life vest (a Massachusetts law).
- Many people find it more comfortable to handle the boat (and especially lines/ropes) in sailing gloves. Not required for sailing in fair weather, but if you come often, you might consider getting a pair. Bike gloves work well, too.
- A chart of Boston Harbor and/or a pair of binoculars can make your trip more meaningful and enjoable.
- Not specifically a nautical thing, but bring your camera if you are into photography! Wide lens for beautiful sunsets, long lens for for objects onshore.
- If there is any chance at all of sailing in the dark, it helps to have a flashlight. The ideal flashlight is head-mounted (keeps hands free) and has a white/red light switch (red light doesn't blind other people).