There is nothing like a Caribbean charter, especially when it gets you away from the cold weather. Aside from the essentials…bathing suit, flip flops, shades and sun block. Here is the Marine Product Reviews list of 10 ‘must pack’ boat gear items for your Caribbean charter.…
1. Foul weather jacket. Rain happens. When it does rain, even if just a passing shower, you’ll want to have a foul weather jacket handy. Light weight, breathable and water proof is what you want. It should be light weight enough that you can stuff it in your beach bag so you have it handy if needed. The Gill Coast Lite is probably about as heavy as you’d want to go (it’s what I bring) or something like the the lightweight Henri Lloyd Breeze Performance Jacket.
2. Boat shoes. Even though flip flops are my preferred foot ware while sailing I the Caribbean, my boat shoes are essential. Of course, I wear these on the daily sails, they also come in handy for longer walks, especially where there is cactus or coral. This year I have the new Sperry Top-Sider Kingfisher and the Sperry Top-Sider Sea Racer GripX3.
3. Handheld GPS. I bring my handheld Garmin marine GPS as back up to the onboard units. I’ve had a number of charters where the equipment wasn’t working properly or I just didn’t know how to use it as well as my own. The handheld GPS is also good for use on longer dinghy rides.
4. Handheld VHF radio. I bring my handheld VHF as back up for the onboard VHF and to have a radio at the helm and I keep it in my dry bag for trips ashore. When ashore, this is a good way to talk with people on the boat and in many smaller islands, this is how cab companies and restaurants communicate.
5. Multi-tool. I always pack my Leatherman multi-tool as it almost always comes in handy in the dry bag that I take ashore. You also never know how complete your charter boat’s tool kit will be so it’s always good to have back up. My multi-tool tends to get used often for cutting limes and opening beer when in the Caribbean but I have also had to use it to cut lines, open shackles, remove splinters, etc. Just be careful to not pack your multi-tool in your carry on!
6. Head lamp. The LED headlamp is a must have item aboard your charter. The hands free flash light is essential for grilling onboard, use ashore at night and even reading in the cockpit after dark.
7. Dry Pack Cell phone case. It’s good to ‘disconnect’ while sailing in the Caribbean, but the reality remains that your phone needs to come along so you can be reached if needed, it may be your camera or web connection. Having lost cell phones to water damage, I never set foot aboard a boat with my phone without having it in a waterproof case. They are cheap, compact and worth their weight in gold if you are near water.
8. Dry bag. I bring a compact dry bag and use it literally every day. It’s the right size for the family’s collection of phones, cameras, iPods, VHF, GPS, iPad, two-way radios, wallets, etc. I like the dry bag that can fit inside the larger tote or beach bag for those trips ashore. They are essential for keeping valuables dry and safe on dinghy rides or with wet towels in the beach bag.
9. Mini Inverter. Sad but (in many cases) true… but we all tend to bring many devices that need to be charged over the course of a charter in the Caribbean – phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, cameras, VHFs, etc. If you don’t connect to shore power, as may well be the case, you’ll need to find opportunities to re-charge when ashore. Having a small inverter can let you keep electronics charges so you can spend your time ashore having fun!
10. Two-way radios. Use of cell phones in the Caribbean can be prohibitively expensive. Two-way radios (walkie talkies) can provide the answer to communication when the group is separated.
We'd love to hear what boat gear items you consider essential on your Caribbean charters. Please let us know!