Essentials for an Overnight Boat Trip

By June 14, 2021June 21st, 2021Captain's Tips
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Nothing beats the anticipation of an overnight boat trip. It’s always an adventure, and feels like a proper getaway – even if you’re only a few nautical miles from home. Overnights are the delight of every boater. But when you don’t have what you need, overnighting can be a nightmare. And once you’ve endured one overnighting disaster, you may be reluctant to try again anytime soon.
The crew at Snag-A-Slip can help. Here are a few essentials for an overnight boat trip that will put the fun, relaxation, and joy back into your overnights – and keep your crew from making you walk the plank!

Of course, the packing list for your boat trip will depend on the type of trip you’re taking; two of you on a day outing close to home will require less than a full crew heading up the coast for a one-month cruise. So, use your judgement. The goal is to pack enough for the entirety of the trip so you don’t run out, while not overdoing it.

Make a List

First take the time to make a list of all the things you think you’ll need for an overnight trip on your boat. You can use it as your checklist before and after your trip – before you leave the dock to check off the supplies you need to pack, then when you return to keep track of the supplies you have left over. And, the simple exercise of making a list forces you to prioritize and not overpack.

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Start with the Basics

No matter what Mother Nature sends your way, or the length of your trip, some items are a must for safety and emergencies: 

  1. Stocked first-aid kit that also contains anti-seasickness medication, extra sunscreen and lip balm
  2. All necessary medications
  3. Life jackets for every person on board (and a few extras should you have guests)
  4. Nautical charts to supplement your GPS system
  5. A two-way radio, because cell phones don’t always work at sea
  6. A hat to shield your face from the sun and a light shirt or jacket with long sleeves
  7. Good polarized sunglasses

Right-Size Your Packing

You’ll be tempted to bring something for every occasion. Unless, of course, you’re an old salt, then you know to pack lightly and only bring the necessities. So, leave the linen pants and cashmere sweater at home. However, no matter what time of year or the climate you’re cruising in, always pack a windbreaker or rain gear.

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Prepared Food will Save You

The key to eating well on your boat is to make whatever you can ahead of time.  No, it’s not the lazy way out. It’s just that cooking full meals at home in your full-sized kitchen, with all your tools and supplies, is easier than trying to do it in your gally. That’s why smart boaters pre-cook and package meals that can be frozen then defrosted and reheated on board.

Cold foods are a staple on board. Here are a few tips for packing and storing:

  1. Pack lunch meats and cheeses separate from bread so sandwiches aren’t soggy
  2. Hard rolls or bagels stay fresher longer than bread
  3. Keep your salads in plastic bags for easy storage
  4. Freeze water bottles and juice boxes so they can serve as both “ice blocks” that keep coolers cold, and drinks
  5. Pack sturdy fruits that don’t easily bruise, like oranges, apples and cantaloupes
  6. Freeze your favorite pasta sauce in sealable plastic bags for easy storage, laying them flat in a cooler
  7. Hard boiled eggs and individual yogurts are made for boating!

Stock Your Galley

When it comes to your galley, you want only what you will use. For utensils, think of the basics, like a spatula/turner, tongs, large spoon, scissors, bottle opener, and at least one quality all-purpose knife. You’ll also need a few multi-purpose pans; a frying pan, a small saucepan and an 8-quart pot for favorites like spaghetti. And don’t forget a few versatile spices, like Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. They go a long way.

Snag-A-Slip Blog - Essentials for an Overnight Boat Trip - Stock Your Galley

Two Coolers are Better Than One

If you have the room, bring two ice chests on board. One you can use for foods that need to stay cold or frozen. The other you can use for items like sodas, fruit and snacks. By using the two-cooler system, one cooler can be opened on a regular basis, while the other can stay closed, and colder longer. Now here’s a good idea some smart boater came up with; wash out empty gallon milk jugs, fill them with fresh water and then freeze them. Not only do they work as frozen blocks of ice, but they’re drinkable fresh water once melted.

Safe Grilling

Even though many boats have galleys, we love our grills. Portable charcoal and gas grills have always been a popular cooking alternative for boaters. However, smart boaters take great precautions when grilling on board. The fact is, unless a grill is designed specifically to be used on board a boat, don’t use it. If your grill is not designed for on board, you can always take it to the beach, and cook there.

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Extra Power

Some boaters opt to bring a portable generator on board to run those luxury items they just can’t live without. You can easily find a small generator that’s lightweight and can be used to run a variety of appliances. But when shopping around, keep in mind that it will take up valuable space. Make sure it’s worth the cost in square inches.

An Inflatable has Many Uses

If it makes good sense for your particular cruise, consider towing an inflatable behind your boat. It can serve as significant stowage space, giving you more room in your boat. You can also use it as a shore tender. Win, win! However, before sunset, make sure to tie it tightly to your stern, so passing boats don’t accidentally run over your line.

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A Smart Boater’s Bedtime Ritual

The most experienced boaters know that it’s very important to get settled for the night before it gets dark. That’s because chores that are simple during the day, like anchoring, putting up canvas and fetching items from your towed inflatable, are far more difficult in the dark.

Reserve Your Slip Ahead of Time

If you’re planning a trip away from home, having a slip ready and waiting at the end of a long day of cruising is a must. Good planning includes knowing where you will be docking – for your whole time away, or each night. Leaving it to the last minute may mean you don’t get your first choice. Check out our interactive map to find marinas at your destination(s).

Snag-A-Slip Blog - Essentials for an Overnight Boat Trip - Reserve your Slip
This may seem like a lot to think about. But, if you really love boating, and we know you do, the planning is not a chore. It’s your insurance that your overnight boat trip will be everything you hope it will be.
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Jo Montgomery

Author Jo Montgomery

Jo is a lifelong boat lover and writer. She learned the ropes of boating on her family’s 36’ Carver at the Jersey (joy-see) shore. With over 30 years of writing under her belt, she delights in seeking out, and sharing, the things most important to fellow boating enthusiasts. Jo now lives in Connecticut, near the water she adores, with her husband, two children and large, hairy dog. She is over the moon to be part of the Snag-A-Slip crew!

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