Bareboat Survival From A to Z

by Janet Groene

Going cruising aboard a rented boat? Some bareboat rentals are more "bare" than others, but it’s certain that any rental will be less well-equipped than your own boat. Here’s a list of things that are easily carried, yet can contribute greatly to the cruise. Many of them are inexpensive enough to abandon before you leave for home and are light enough to take on a fly-in rental.

Can Opener. A good double-gear can opener is a plus. For fly-weight travel, get an army-style folding blade the size of a thumbnail, or a Swiss army knife with a can opener blade. Chances are that the bareboat galley has a cheap, single-gear can opener that is rusty and dull.

Clothes pins. Sturdy, wood spring type pins will hold clothes securely on lifelines, close bags of rice or potato chips, and clip curtains closed when you need privacy in crowded marinas.

Duct tape. Wrap sharp strands of rigged or ragged rope ends, make a temporary patch for almost anything, or stick anything to anything including tacking up a raveled hem or picking lint off your blazer.

Extra linens. Rentals are stingy with bedding and towels. Take as many extra bath towels as you have room for. Keep one set for showering, another for the beach. A thick bath towel can cushion a crevice or bend in a lumpy bunk. A wrung-out, wet bath towel makes a non-skid table covering when you eat or cook in a rough seaway. Take extra tea towels so you’ll have plenty of clean, fresh changes. In steamy climates, a mid-week change of pillow cases is welcome even if you don’t have extra sheets. Take your own face cloths. They are rarely provided.

First aid supplies. First aid kits on bareboats are usually incomplete, out of date, or both. In your own kit include bandages, tweezers (preferably with built-in magnifier), antibacterial ointment, chemical ice and heat bags (squeeze to activate), petroleum jelly for a soothing lubricant that can also be used to temporarily tack on a lost tooth crown, moleskin for blisters, and sample-size medications for pain, diarrhea, constipation or an acid stomach. Add things you family needs or is likely to need such as child-size medications.

Flashlights. Invest in the most compact, high power lights for reading in bed, navigating dark docks, and power failures, preferably all using the same size batteries so you don’t have to take spares in several sizes.

Folding water jug(s). Found in marine and camping supply stores, these are perfect not only for ferrying water but also for gravity flow if the on-board pressure system fails. Choose the type with a built-in spigot.

Giant garbage bags. Take dozens. In addition to using them for trash, use them to seal up things you need to keep dry in a leaky boat. Hang them over portholes (using duct tape) as privacy curtains. Wrap up supplies to be ferried in the dinghy in the rain. Save a couple to bring home wet swimsuits and stinky seashells.

Glue. Take a tiny vial of a super-type glue for emergencies.

Ice pick. If the boat has mechanical refrigeration, there probably will not be an ice pick onboard. Take one to use on block ice you buy for ice chests, and to use as a hole punch. Punch a paper cup to make a small strainer; punch a disposable aluminum pan to make a large strainer.

Knives. Basic bareboat knives are too large, too small, and too dull.

Markers. Take a marking pen for labeling things, a highlighter for working on charts and guidebooks, and a scrap of chalk, which can be used as a temporary marker and as a coverup for smudges on white clothing.

Lubes. Check auto parts or marine stores for pocket-size spray lubes. A spritz of lube can fix almost anything.

pans.jpg (7229 bytes)Non-stick skillet. Cookware on bareboats has usually been scrubbed bare of any non-stick coatings. It takes a little space to pack and carry your own saute pan or skillet.

Nylon net. Buy several yards of net for a dollar or so. It takes little room yet can be used as emergency screening, to scrub dishes, and as a strainer. Cut a lemon in half, wrap it in the net, and squeeze it for instant seed-free juice.

Oversize toiletries bag. In addition to your usual toiletries kit, you’ll need room to carry towels and a change of clothes to marina showers. Choose a roomy canvas bag that will hang up clean and dry on one hook. Marina showers can be wet and grotty.

Personal radios. Radios that can receive TV audio as well as AM-FM are available in tiny sizes. With an individual ear phone, they provide personal entertainment without disturbing others.

Roasting bags. These can be filled with food and lowered into boiling water to warm up leftovers or cook convenience foods. No pots to wash!

Sewing kit. Look for a matchbox-sized kit that has needles pre-threaded with a variety of colors, a couple of buttons, and a few safety pins. Add more safety pins in large and super sizes, button wrap and a big needle for heavy duty mending (upholstery,sails), and your own thimble. If you also carry a travel iron and will have power to use it, carry heat-fusible and iron-on tapes in a variety of fabrics and colors to use for stitch-free hemming or patching.

Small stuff. Take plenty of short lengths of sturdy nylon line such as parachute cord. You’ll find endless uses for it. Add a hank of waxed dental floss (for when you need strong string), some 80-lb. test monofilament fishing line, and a couple of shoelaces.

Soft ice chests. Waterproof, well-insulated, foam rubber bags stow away when not in use, and can also double as luggage or pillows.

Tapes or CDs for the stereo and VCR.

Tools. This list will vary with each trip depending on the type of boat and waters and your own ability to troubleshoot mechanical or electrical ills. Basically, you’ll need tools that can tighten, loosen, pry and cut. Look for versatility: pliers/wire cutter, screwdriver with many blades; bosun’s knife or Swiss army knife. If space permits, add a test light or small multi-meter to diagnose wiring problems.

Towel holders. Bareboats never have enough towel racks. Look for inexpensive, stick-back, round, plastic holders that grab a corner of a towel or wash cloth when it’s tucked into the hole in the middle. Stick them to bulkheads and leave them for the next guest.

Whatnot kit. In one sandwich-size plastic bag, carry a few paper clips, rubber bands, twist ties, a spare corned beef can key if you have one, and a couple of screw-in cup hooks. Why? You’ll know when the time comes.

Zip-top plastic bags. In all sizes, they keep things dry and separate in the galley and throughout the boat. Unzip one partway and you’ve formed a funnel. Punch one with an ice pick to make a salad strainer. To make an emergency pillow, seal up a bagful of air. To stow lettuce and other tender items in an icebox in a raging seaway, seal in some extra air as a cushion.

Fly-In Versus Drive-In

The list above was made for the fly-in bareboater. If you’re driving to the boat, the sky is the limit. You can take homemade frozen casseroles, rafts of extra clothing and bedding, tons of entertainment electronics, books galore, your own tackle, and much more. To the list above, add the following:

*"Egg crate" mattress pads can save your life if the bareboat’s beds are too hard, too soft or too lumpy. At today's price of about $15 to $20 for a double bed size, they can be considered disposable, well worth abandoning after a one- or two-week charter, or take inflatable mattresses.

*Take your own bedrolls; they’ll be easier to use than the linens provided by the charter company.

*A big, stainless steel bucket can be used as a bucket, water heater, a catch-all, a lobster pot, or a supersize mixing bowl for salads, popcorn and the like.

*An extra ice chest or two.

Janet & Gordon Groene lived aboard their own boat for ten years and have bareboated all over the world. Their books include ABC’s of Boat Camping (Sheridan House) and Florida Under Sail (Country Roads Press).

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