Here are tips from from previous trips. Heed them well and you will enjoy your sail immensely.
Astronomy – It’s really nice to do your homework before you go for an extended voyage. Knowing where some of the more common constellations are in the sky is exhilarating when you actually see them while at anchor in the remote islands. This is one area that I am working on learning more about.
Books – Bring something you would like to read! I bring books about cruising, fish identification, the various islands we might visit, something I’m studying, or maybe a magazine about a hobby. I just bought an astronomy field guide for the next trip! Maybe you’d like to bring a novel or one of the titles from your school’s summer reading list.
Coffee cup – I bring a stainless steel travel mug with a lid on it for my morning coffee. It keeps the coffee hot and doesn’t spill all over the place.
Culture – When you meet people from another country, or really from anywhere different from where you grew up, you should do your utmost to be respectful of their culture. The old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” applies wherever you go. Smile, nod, say “hello,” ask questions, say “thank you,” and engage people in conversation. In short – be nice, and let people know that you are open to being their friend. If someone is short with you, don’t be personally offended. Someone else who looks like you and talks like you may have given that person plenty of reason to be short. Instead, go out of your way to prove that you are worthy of their time. Earn their trust and friendship by going the extra mile for them. Never, ever convey to another person, anywhere for any reason, an arrogant attitude that says, “I am better than you.” You’re not, and that kind of attitude is highly offensive.
Customs and Immigration – Always show respect towards government officials. Come prepared with the proper paperwork in order. Avoid joking around. Be pleasant and efficient. You’re not going to change the system by complaining about anything. Expect it to take longer than you think it should.
Fish – Never cut or clean fish on the deck of a boat. Always use a cutting board. I prefer to use the top of an ice chest that I own to clean fish. Never damage someone else’s property. Also, be very careful with sharp knives and fish hooks!
Food – We try to make our food something special. A good diet aboard a cruising boat includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s great to have fresh food and it’s great to have the spices and extra things necessary to bake or grill that trophy fish for the crew. On our last trip, we enjoyed conch fritters, cajun jambalaya, fresh baked tuna with asparagus and chia with pineapple, mac and cheese, sandwiches, and much more.
Glasses – Are you going to read? Bring reading glasses if you need ’em!
Hat – Yes, absolutely!
Injury – We have been blessed with the good fortune of not having had a severe injury thus far. This has not been by accident however! We stress avoiding injury over and over throughout the voyage because medical facilities are few and far between and an injury could ruin the trip for you and everyone else. Hold back on the risk-taking behavior. There is plenty of fun to be had, but do it safely! On our last voyage, we had a wonderful experience at the Blue Hole at Hoffman’s Cay. An older gentleman did a back flip off the cliff into the water below. I knew I could do this too, but hadn’t practiced it in a while. I knew that if I landed wrong, I might pull a muscle and that could get in the way of performing my duties. As captain of the boat, I chose to jump instead and enjoy the show of others doing more daring feats.
Life jackets and life raft – Know where these are on the boat and obey immediately if your captain orders their use. Never assume that you can swim indefinitely – you can’t. Even a trip in the dinghy could become life threatening if you capsize or someone falls out.
Man overboard – While underway, do not sit, lounge, or sleep on or near the stern of the boat. Do not jump up and down on the bow of the boat. While moving around the boat, make sure you are holding tightly to a rail at all times. The most common cause of man overboard is literally a man, urinating off the back of the boat, falling in. Use the head!
Medications – If you take medications or have allergies or conditions in which you might need an emergency injection or inhaler or medicine delivered in any way, by all means, take these medications with you and make sure the captain of your boat knows your situation. Plan ahead.
Organization – Keep up with your stuff! Keep your things together and on OUR boat. Avoid borrowing things, but if you do, and you lose a spear gun or fishing rod or snorkeling mask that doesn’t belong to you, you must replace it.
Packing – Use SOFT luggage, one large bag and one small bag should be sufficient. You may need something else for your snorkeling gear and fishing tackle, but do your best to pack light. You will need about 1/2 as many articles of clothing as you normally do when you travel.
Seasickness – To avoid seasickness, get plenty of rest the night before the voyage, eat normally, stay out of the sun, stay hydrated, stay on a part of the boat with the least motion like the aft deck, stay outside in the fresh air, look at the horizon, or sleep. Avoid the bow of the boat where the motion is greatest. If you think you need seasickness medication, take it BEFORE the boat leaves the dock.
Shoes – deck shoes, flip flops, or barefoot is the proper footwear on a boat. Don’t wear dress shoes or any kind of shoes that could mar or scratch the boat. Believe it or not, I once had to make someone remove a pair of black soled combat boots before boarding my boat. Also, walk lightly on a boat. Never jump harshly or stomp around as you move.
Snorkeling – Yes, you DO need your own snorkeling gear – a mask, snorkel, and fins that you picked out, that fits you, and that is labeled with your initials. If you absolutely must borrow something from someone else or from the boat, RETURN IT! Don’t put it with your personal gear or accidentally take it home with you. We have to pay for anything that is lost or damaged. I bring snorkeling vests for everyone on our boat. They add an element of safety for all concerned. Wear them please.
Sunglasses – Yes, absolutely. I usually bring at least one extra pair too.
Sunscreen – VERY important, especially on day 1. Ask Matt if this is true! The sun rays come from above, but they also bounce off the water and cook you like a reflector oven. Wear a light colored shirt. Don’t debilitate yourself with extreme sunburn or worse, sun poisoning.
Towels – No, you don’t need multiple large beach towels. It’s really hot in the Bahamas, so you’ll dry off quite rapidly even without a towel. It’s a pain having 20 soaking wet towels all over the boat. I usually bring one hand towel and maybe one other small bath towel. That’s it.
Water bottle – It’s a great idea to bring a refillable water bottle for your personal use.