The following list is typical for a week and a half long charter. A common question is whether laundry services are available. The answer is yes, at most marinas. Most charterers prefer not to spend vacation time waiting for laundry, but if you time your laundry chore to take place during a dinner at a marina restaurant, the inconvenience can be minimized. One of the best locations for this is on Marina Cay, where there is a row of laundry machines just around the corner from the island’s only restaurant. In many other locations, laundromat staff will be glad to take on the chore for you for a small fee, freeing you up to visit their island.
Mask & Snorkel
Although most charter companies offer mask, snorkels, and fins, there is no guarantee that they will have one that fits you well when you go to check out. It is recommended that you bring your own mask and snorkel, but the fins are probably available from your charter company. You will likely spend hours wearing a mask and snorkel, so it is better to have one from home that you know is comfortable and in good condition. Fins, on the other hand (or foot), are bulky and difficult to carry in your luggage, and the charter companies tend to have these in ample amounts. Check with your specific charter company for their recommendations when you pack.
Check with your charter company regarding the linens and towels they supply with your charter. They usually provide towels and bed linens, and may charge a nominal fee if you desire extra sets. Note that beach towels are usually not provided, so if an oversized beach towel is something you can’t live without, be sure and bring one.
You will wear swimsuits much of the time in the BVI, so bring several. Life on a sailboat gives you many excuses throughout the day to jump in the clear blue waters for a swim, snorkel, or just to cool off. Note that when venturing from the beach inland to explore shops or restaurnts, it is customary here to wear coverups or dress in something more modest than swimsuits.
Although you may not need socks for the shoes you brought, a pair of socks can come in handy if you develop blisters. Blisters can occur when wearing sandals you aren’t accustomed too, and also from wearing swim fins for extended periods. Socks can be worn beneath the swim fin (or sandal) to protect irritated skin.
Whether you use them at home or not, you’ll want a pair of sailing gloves. The larger cruising boats have a lot of lines, and you’ll wear out your hands raising halyards and trimming sheets.
Because of the humidity and wind, evenings can get just a little cool at times. Bring a light windbreaker just in case. A waterproof one will also be handy when it rains.
Bring 3–4 shirts. Although cotton is comfortable, synthetic sport fibers will dry more quickly if you wear them swimming. Also, many synthetic fibers are antimicrobial, which will reduce unpleasant odors in the humid conditions.
Light-colored, loose, long-sleeved shirts will protect you from sunburn, and because they shade your skin, can keep you cooler than wearing a t-shirt.
Long pants, shirt
Bring one pair of long pants, which may come in handy if you get sunburned, or if the evenings are a little cool for your comfort. Long pants may be useful protection if you choose to go hiking on an island interior, as protection against scratches or insects.
Many choose to wear long sleeve shirts as sun protection. High tech, light-colored fabrics can be cooler than short sleeves because of the shade they provide, their advanced breathability, and UV protection.
A shade hat and sunglasses are critical for the hours you will spend on deck sailing beneath the brilliant Caribbean sun. Bring at least one snug-fitting hat that will stay put when the trade winds have your boat underway. In addition, be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, lip balm, and sunburn relief such as aloe, just in case.
Camera & Photography Gear
Pictures and video will be your favorite souvenir following your charter, so bring a good camera. In addition to a good camera, you will want a dependable case to protect the camera as you climb in and out of the dinghy traveling between the boat and the many islands you will visit. There are many excellent pocket-sized digital cameras on the market now.
You may wish to bring either a waterproof housing for your primary camera, or a secondary waterproof disposable camera. The BVIs are as beautiful beneath the water as they are above, and these will be some of your favorite photos.
Bring your required toiletries along with a small breathable bag in which to store them. The bag is important because you may be sharing the head with fellow crew, and due to the motion of the boat underway, anything left out on sink counters will be knocked to the floor. A breathable bag (mesh bag or similar, usually available in camping and backpacking stores) is important because the humidity will prevent your supplies from drying. The mesh will allow air to flow through the bag, preventing mold from forming.
You’ll want 2 pair of shoes, each for a specific purpose.
When on the boat, you’ll need a boat shoe. It’s important that the sole be non-marking and non-skid, in order to protect the white surface of the boat, and to prevent you from slipping on those decks when they are wet. The shoe should also be a closed-toe shoe. Although the thought of sailing barefoot through the Caribbean seems alluring, there are many items sticking up on a sailboat’s decks waiting to bruise, sprain, or break an unsuspecting toe: hatches, hinges, vents, stanchions, winches, etc.
When going to shore or exploring along the beach, a good pair of water-friendly sandals is indispensable. At some islands, you will be stepping out onto a dinghy dock, and in others you will be jumping out of the dinghy into 2 feet of water and wading through the sand up onto shore.
Motion Sickness Treatment
If you haven’t sailed before or if you have and are worried about seasickness, you will want to bring some treatment for motion sickness. Talk with your physician about recommendations for you, they extend from prescribed scopolamine patches, to pills such as Bonine, to remedies that include magnetic wristbands and ginger snap cookies. It is much better to be over-prepared than under.
Books, Kindles, Ipads
With the steady trade winds, you will enjoy long tacks between islands. This is a perfect time for crew to relax and pick up a good book. Many of the charter companies have book swaps where you can leave your old books and try something new-to-you. If you bring an electronic reader, remember you will need to charge it on the boat. Also during the day you will often be in bright sunlight which requiring certain readers to be turned to full brightness (which will use more battery.)