It can be tricky to decide exactly what to take when you go sailing. Obviously, this is very dependant on where and when you are sailing. So, as we are based in the sunny southern Ionian, I will be talking you through what you’d need for this particular sailing area.
Most things are pretty obvious but there are a few things to remember. Space is at a premium on yachts. So, a suitcase you can fit the kitchen sink in is best avoided. Try to find a softer case that can be squashed down and shoved into an available locker out of the way.
As a frequent traveller I’ve always tried to travel with as many items as the baggage allowance grants me and that I can physically squeeze into my cabin bag. I refuse to pay for a larger bag and have learnt over the years that it really is unnecessary to have 20kg of shoes. I have also learnt that out of the 22 outfits I pack I will only ever wear 3 and especially in hotter climates, I end up living in the same cool t-shirt and shorts day after day. So be brutal when it comes to choosing your holiday wardrobe. Remember, during the day when you’re out on the yacht you can live in your swim wear! You don’t even have to wear clothes if you don’t want to! However, I did encounter an unfortunate sight last summer whilst looking through a pair of binoculars that I’d much rather forget!
Sunglasses are a must and hats are advised. The UV light exposure from the sun glaring off the sea can cause serious damage in the long term so make sure to wear some specs! Try a pair of polarized glasses, they dramatically reduce glare and can also help when looking out for shallow patches, reefs and rocks. Always handy.
Lotions and Potions
Whatever your skin type you should be smothering yourself in sun cream! Just because, like my husband, you don’t burn and just go a gorgeous and very annoying sun kissed brown, doesn’t mean your skin isn’t being damaged! And if you’re more like me and suffer from fair skin, that two minutes of exposure to the sun turns a rather attractive shade of lobster pink, factor 50 it up! You can also get some great factor lip balms these days which are worth having. The sun and salt air can seriously dry you out so think about after suns or a good moisturiser. Remember though when packing, Greece isn’t the outback. They have supermarkets and pharmacy’s in every town so getting hold of paracetamol and shampoo isn’t going to be difficult. If of course there is something you just can’t live without then pack it, you might not always get the exact same brand as you do at home.
It doesn’t matter who you are or how experienced a sailor, you will one day suffer from seasickness. The unfortunate thing about seasickness is that you can actually cause yourself to experience the symptoms. If you embark on your sailing trip with the thought already set in your mind, then the chances are at some point, you will end up feel more than a little queasy during your time on board. Of course, there are times that your body will largely decide that the motion caused by crashing through 6-meter waves is not at all natural and thus wish to expel that day’s lunch. This is why we live in the calm seas of the Ionian. The biggest waves we see during the summer are caused by the high-speed Italian motor boats haring past. But if you are someone who has suffered in the past then make sure to pack some motion sickness tablets. There are also some great alternatives like ginger and oranges that have been known to help. Interestingly enough, Nausea comes from the Greek word Naus, meaning ship.
Mosquitoes and other Pests
The dreaded mosquito! We are plagued during the height of the summer in certain bays by these tiny winged devils. At a certain point each evening we go into what we refer to as lock down. All the hatches are closed, the lights turned out in each cabin and the mosquito net is out covering the companion way and we sit sweating in the saloon. But they still get in! We swear they must have tools! So, if you’re prone to receiving the odd bite here and there, do make sure to pack your mosquito repellent. Don’t panic though, the whole of Greece is not taken over by a swarm of mosquitoes when the sun goes down. In the town of Syvota, there are no mosquitoes! At least I’ve ever seen or heard one! We have however, discovered that wasps’ favour the island of Meganissi and Port Leone on Kalamos. So, if you’re planning a visit in the height of summer, maybe pick up some bug spray.
What to put on your feet? Now this is tricky, people have different views of shoes on boats. For us, we have a lovely teak deck so kindly ask that our guests remove their shoes when coming on board, this saves a lot of wear a tear and any dirt being brought on from the shore. We do explain that being bare footed is actually easier when walking around on deck and probably safer than wearing flip flops. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I regularly trip over in those things on land, let alone on a boat! Plus, there is something freeing about having bare feet. Like when you were a kid and you would kick off your shoes and pull off your socks at the first opportunity and run across the sand and splash through the sea. Deck shoes are great of course, they’re non-marking and you can find some decent breathable ones, so they’re not as hot in the summer months. It really is what you feel comfortable in at the end of the day. As long as you’re not thinking Doctor Martins and stilettos, you’ll be fine.
Linen and Towels
Before you book with your chosen sailing company, I recommend you check their policy on bedding and towels. Unfortunately, most companies will charge you for such luxuries, their belief being that you’re probably not going to start trying to shove a double duvet into your suitcase, so sadly they’ve got you on that one. We’ve all been there, umming and ahing over whether to pack the beach towel or to buy the over-priced flannel from the local gift shop that depicts whatever island we happen to find ourselves on. Having made the decision and opted for the flannel on more than one occasion my airing cupboard is now filled with colourful reminders of why as a company we supply towels!
Depending on the months you are visiting the Ionian, the evenings can get a little chilly, especially after being in the hot sun all day, so a light jumper or cardi is sensible. And although we should be guaranteed sunshine every day, a light waterproof jacket can come in handy, if the weather turns. Other than that, what ever you fancy! Greece is pretty relaxed when it comes to evening attire. Most places are happy that you’re just wearing a shirt!
Electronics! We all have them, and they go everywhere with us! Whether you’re using a camera or your phone to take photos make sure your taking them! But remember your surrounded by water and that’s never good when it comes to our tech. Look out for waterproof covers and bags, these are great if you’ve been known to drop a phone or two! And don’t forget your plug adaptors for charging your devices abroad. Although when out sailing more often than not, there will be no power unless the generator is running so you will be unable to charge up until you are in for the night and connected to the shore supply again. On board Lady Eleanor however, we have a USB adaptor for charging our cameras and phones whilst we’re sailing, it does come in very handy. Check out the music situation! Most people don’t lug a CD collection around with them anymore so find out if the yacht has a Bluetooth or USB sound system on board to connect to. You could always bring your own but why take up precious flip flop space if you don’t need to?
I have found with a few of our guests in the past, who haven’t necessarily spent much time on a boat or much time sailing at all, that they worry too much about what to bring with them. At the end of the day, it’s just like a floating hotel. Things can always be provided for you, sometimes at a cost of course. I know that Luke and myself always try our best to source anything a guest may ask for or need on board to make they stay easier and for them to feel more at home.
Here’s a quick run through of the most important things to take when you go sailing!
- A soft case or rucksack
- Polarized sunglasses
- Sun Cream and factor Lip Balm
- Sea Sickness Tablets
- Flip Flips, Sandals or Deck Shoes
- Mosquito Spray
- Light Jumper
- Waterproof Jacket
- Camera and waterproof cover
- Plug Adaptors