15 Charter Essentials for Any Sailing Trip

The experts have spoken. These are the sailing essentials to pack inside your YETI cooler.
YETI mug
YETI 20 oz Travel Mug in Offshore Blue YETI

Hmm, what to pack for an offshore adventure—now that’s always a tricky question. Depending on the weather and expected time at sea, you can sketch out what you think you’ll need, but sailing trips often take unexpected twists and turns, so you’ll also want to be ready for whatever Neptune might have in store. With that in mind, here are 15 essentials I’d toss into my sea bag and YETI cooler.

1. Frozen Food

I’d pack my YETI Bimini Pink Hopper M30 soft-side cooler or the new M20 Backpack Cooler with an aluminum baking pan of lasagna and a gallon-size plastic bag of chili, both frozen. The first night at sea, the crew will be getting used to the endless motion, so simple sandwiches will suffice. On days two and three, we’ll be ready for a real meal, and by then, the frozen entrees will be thawing out. But in the meantime, they will have done double-duty as ice packs, helping to prolong the life span of fresh fruits and vegetables. After day three, we’ll be bored and ready to cook meals from scratch.

2. PFD and Tether

I’m definitely bringing my inflatable life jacket, two spare inflation cylinders, and my safety tether. At night or anytime circumstances get dicey, I like to have my PFD on, and if I’m on deck, I want to be tethered to something solid. I bring my own gear because it’s comfortable, I know how it works, and I’ve checked to make sure the PFD’s armed and ready to go.

3. Multicolor Headlamp and Small LED Flashlight

From sunset to sunrise, I always carry a flashlight in my pocket, and the headlight frees up my hands. Plus, at night on deck, its red light won’t interfere with night vision.

4. A Couple of Good Books

You can sleep for only so many hours between watches!

5. Swim Goggles

You never know when you might need to go over the side, and they could come in handy on watch during a whiteout rain squall.

6. Multitool

You never know when it might come in handy.

7. Flask of Mt. Gay Rum and YETI Rambler

See reasoning for the multitool. The drinkware company launched a new line of tumblers, mugs and bottles in Offshore Blue and Bimini Pink for use as compact containers while out on the water or simply to keep you hydrated while doing what you love.

8. Personal EPIRB and AIS Beacons

I mount these on my PFD. I’m not planning to go overboard, but if I do, I’m hoping someone will come find me—the AIS because the boat I fell off will probably be the closest, and the EPIRB in case they don’t turn back to get me.

9. Old Bay Seasoning

A tin of Old Bay can make the worst cook’s grub taste good, and if we catch a fish, well, bon appétit.

10. Paper Charts, Dividers and Parallel Rules

I find route planning a lot easier on a paper chart; you don’t need to zoom in and out or scroll endlessly to see what’s ahead. Plus, when I pull out the nav gear, it gives the millennials aboard something to laugh at.

11. Sweatpants

Even in warm places, night watches can be cold. And sweatpants are comfortable.

12. Cap and Shades

I’m definitely packing an extra ball cap and pair of sunglasses. Both are easily lost, and missed dearly when gone.

13. Pure-Castile Peppermint Soap

It works just fine with salt water and is biodegradable.

14. iPhone

Gotta have my smartphone, loaded nav apps and music, of course.

15. Waterproof Point-and-Shoot Camera

When I go anywhere on the water, I bring along my waterproof point-and-shoot camera with Wi-Fi. You can put it in a pocket and swim ashore; it will slide under things like an engine to take photos of stuff you can’t see or reach; and you can take photos of your mates when they fall asleep on watch.