Sailing Survival Guide

Sailing holidays, and being on boats in general, are meant to be fun and adventurous but to get the most of our of your trip you need to be prepared. If you have never embarked on a great nautical voyage (i.e. stayed on a boat) then this little guide should give you an idea of what to do and what knot to do if you’re about to set sail (see what I did there?). I was lucky in that I was with sailing veterans who had experienced many a summer on a boat so they were able to give me some tips before hand but had this not had been the case I would have been very much in the dark.

By survival guide I will be sharing tips on how to emerge from spending two weeks with your head held high, friendships in tact and a great snaps to show for it.


1. What to expect

You may see pictures of Kate Moss lounging on the deck of a yacht in St Barts looking perfectly coiffed, manicured and clean but this should not be the basis of how you expect your trip to be. For starters she is probably not living on the boat and instead has a plush apartment in the hills over the bay and secondly, even if she was living on the boat it would probably be the type that costs an arm and a leg with every facility going!

If like me your accommodation (the boat) isn’t owned by a supermodel and is instead on the smaller side you will need to prepare for it to be more like camping than a hotel. You won’t be able to stroll out of bed and hop straight into a shower and either will you be able to have hair dryers, straighteners and tongs at your disposal. Life on a boat is simple and basic which is part of the fun of it and you’ll realise that you can definitely do without most of things you would usually consider to be your ‘essentials’. However, a razor is a necessity and don’t forget it…furry legs when you’re spending nearly every waking minute in a bikini is not ideal.


2. What to wear

Scurrying round the deck when required, clambering over ropes, negotiating (and nearly falling off) the gang plank…high heels really are not an option. You are not Sinita (or any one of Simon Cowell’s harem for that matter) prancing around a steady mega yacht looking glamorous. You are on a boat where laid-back casual is the name of the game and sensibility is a priority over fashion. Often with little room to store your clothes in a shared cabin you need to pack light too. I’d recommend shorts, bikinis and flip-flops as your daytime necessities! Lounging on deck with soft cottons, faded denim and some good-fitting swimwear is the perfect uniform for a savvy sailor.

And don’t forget your googles! They may be unattractive and they may be the most unglamorous thing you pack but they’re definitely worth it. Seeing all of the fish under the boat and recovering pairs of sunglasses from the bottom of the sea (yes, it happened) all require goggles and will make your trip much more memorable!


3. Get some tunes!

Once you have managed to get out of the port and avoided any collisions you can relax a bit. If you are adventurous and head to bays further down the coastline trips can take a little longer and when you’re out at sea, chilling in the sun and having a good time there is nothing better than having some tunes to sing a long to! One of my fondest memories of my sailing holiday in Mallorca was pretending to be Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act singing along and dancing to John Legend with the salty wind blowing through my hair and a boyfriend doing a great one man band impression beer in hand. You wouldn’t want to miss out on moments like these and sail in silence so make sure you compile a great playlist in advance ready for a jammy sail.


4. Go with pals

Living in a small space without a great deal of room can be difficult but making sure that you’re in good company definitely helps! Make sure you go away with someone who you’re happy to spend all day every day with and to share all of your fun moments with.

I took this chap…we didn’t fall out..


5. Burn to bronze?

You may be partial to the odd bit of sunbathing on the beach but you will get exposed to more rays when you’re sailing and will soon realise why yachtsmen have such cracking tans! With little or no shade and hats flying off in the wind your skin has nowhere to hide from the bright midday sun and the reflection from the water so make sure you pack more sun cream than usual. Not only will you have a more comfortable night’s sleep if you’re not as red as a lobster but after-sun often becomes an afterthought when it’s 2am and pitch black when you arrive back to the boat. Putting your PJs on the right way round before finding a cushion to sleep on without waking up sleepy sailors is enough to worry about let alone soothing sore shoulders.


6. Have fun

This tip is somewhat a given but even when it isn’t all plain sailing you need to remember to let loose, enjoy yourself and have some much-deserved fun. Plunging into the turquoise waters of a bay time after time from the side of the boat will never get dull! Play on the boat and lark about. Forget the diet and forget about early bedtimes and beauty sleep, going out, eating great food and watching the sun go down are all part of the experience and shouldn’t be missed.




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