When we charter a yacht in the BVI, we bring along these unusual, but very handy items. (They are also inexpensive and pack easily, so there’s no reason not to take them!)
Water Bottles. We always carry a water bottle per person. Something unique. That way everyone has their bottle for the week that they can fill up from the gallon water bottles.
Microlight. We use a small colored light that we hang from the bimini on our boat when we leave in the evening. That way we can easily tell which boat is ours on our way home. Even if we’ve had a couple of painkillers.
Dry sack. These are really inexpensive and are great for carrying towels and books in the dingy to the beach.
Soft sided cooler. We use ours to carry some frozen food down with us but more importantly we use it to carry drinks to the beach. Saves us a lot of money.
Thermometer. Boat refrigerators only run when the engine is running. So you need to check them to make sure they are keeping your food cool. The problem is when it’s 80 degrees outside, everything feels cooler. We once lost an entire fridge worth of food, so we always carry a cheap refrigerator thermometer with us now.
That’s our list of what nobody else will tell you to bring but will make your life a lot easier! These things are cheap (except for the cooler) and easy to carry too!
While you are planning, here are some other useful things to pack:
Here’s some of the things others have suggested:
- Kindle instead of 3-4 books. (Don’t forget the splash proof case – I really wished I’d had one during our last trip!)
- Portable light good for dinner time or playing games.
- LED Headlamp for driving the dinghy, grilling at night and shining down on the table during dinner. Or snorkeling at night!
- Long barbecue lighter – we usually go through a ton of matches trying to light the grill.
- Spices pre-measured in ziploc for your meal recipes.
- Microfiber towel – they dry quick.
- “The Neat Sheet“, a ground blanket for the beach that can also be used as additional shade.
- Yacht Ensign.
- Salt water soap. A bio-degradeable one. We usually just use the outdoor fresh water shower, not salt water, to shower in.
- Glow sticks. To hang in the rigging before going ashore. Makes your boat easier to find at night in a crowded anchorage.
- Fish identification book. It’s fun to look up what you saw while you were diving or snorkeling.
- Fillet knife. There is never a good knife on board. (We always bring one – it’s very useful even if you aren’t fishing. Like if you get the dinghy’s painter wrapped around the drive shaft.)
- A mooring shackle, an “asymmetrical snap hook“. Makes picking up moorings much easier. Note that many of the catamarans already have them on their brindles.
- Baby Powder. A sprinkle on the feet at night keeps the sand out of the sheets.
- Baby wipes.
- Lots of ziploc bags. (We always bring them from home because the ones we get there don’t seal well.)
- Duct tape.
- iPod FM Transmitter to play music through the boat radio. You can get one that plugs into a 12V outlet or get one that runs on batteries.
- Powder Gatorade.
- Benadryl for allergic reactions.
- Washing machine, a 5 gallon bucket with screw top lid. Tie to the swim step, fill it about 1/3 with water and a little bio-degradable soap and the day’s laundry. Agitates itself with nice warm water all day. End of the day, swim step shower, rinse clothes, hang on life line, repeat.
- Super Glue
- Eyeglass Repair Kit. Great idea because your sunglasses might take a beating.
- Travel coffee mug. There will be mugs on the boat but this means you can walk around easily with your coffee.
- Personal Water Bottles. We take a unique one for everyone in our group.
- Several people suggested 40′-50′ of light line.
- Mesh holder with suction cups to hold binoculars, GPS, VHF, sunglasses, etc. within reach of the helm.
- Nutmeg Grinder. Lots of yummy drinks include nutmeg.
- Small dry bags for camera, money, etc.
- Travel guitar if you know how to play! We were treated to an awesome bagpipe concert on one trip.
And don’t forget the bag to put it all in!
My favorite suitcase to take to the BVI is a medium size Northface Base Camp Duffel. It is collapsible (so takes up no room on the boat), big enough to hold everything, small enough to carry on (so no waiting at the dock for your lost luggage), a backpack (so you can easily carry it through the airport or the islands), waterproof (so if you want to use it to carry your book and towel to the beach, they stay dry) and it comes in many great colors.