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Be Prepared - Charter Check List

Extra Items to Take On Your Charter

Charter companies do provide the basics. But often, small items like navigation instruments, toolboxes and flashlights may not be checked due to the quick turn-around of the chartered boat. The items may not be missing, they may just be damaged, rusted, or neglected to the point that they not longer are useful.

Navigation Tools

You may find that the dividers provided in the chart table have slid around until their ends resemble fish hooks. It is a good idea to bring your own navigation tools including dividers, parallel rules, pencils and sharpener, eraser and a pocket calculator. You should probably also throw in a hand bearing compass and your own binoculars.

I always carry my portable GPS and a set of spare batteries. Even though the boat may have its own GPS the portable makes a good backup. In addition, if the onboard GPS does not have the associated operations manual it may be difficult to program in waypoints in an expedient manner. At least I know how my own works.

Charts and cruising guides are expensive items, but bring your own. You should also have onboard a light list and Coast Pilot or Sailing Directions for the area in which you will be chartering.


The charter companies will provide life jackets, but they normally are too bulky for routine wearing. I like to bring my own personal inflatable jacket with a built-in safety harness simply because it is already adjusted to my size and is comfortable.

You don't necessarily have to carry extra line to the charter destination but prior to leaving the charter company dock make sure you have plenty of docking lines and lines that can be rigged as jack lines.

I would also advise bringing along a knife and marlinespike, a small sharpening stone and a Gerber or other multipurpose tool.

A hand held VHF makes a good backup to the boat's radio and also can be used in the cockpit rather than having to go below.


Add a small set of screwdrivers, a compact array of wrenches, and a pair of wire cutters and pliers, and you should be able to handle most temporary repairs. Don't forget a flashlight, a 20-foot hank of fine line and some whipping thread. WD-40, electrical tape and duct tape also come in handy. Some cotter pins of assorted sizes in a film canister and rip-stop tape should prepare you for most minor emergencies.

You might want to check in advance to see if the charter company provides soft wooden plugs (bungs) that can be used to make a quick plug, should you have a hose or through-hull fail. If not, bring your own.

Personal Items

Don't forget to pack your foul weather gear. A night watch in the rain can be quite uncomfortable if you're not prepared.

Do pack a can opener and a cork screw. Opening that favorite bottle you saved for the last night with a rusty screwdriver is not very appealing. 

I use the list below whenever chartering or teaching students. Feel free to copy and paste into your favorite word processor and modify or personalize as necessary. You can check off each item before you leave and check off again prior to getting off the boat to make sure you have collected all your belongings.



  Foul Weather gear - coat, pants, boots  
  Hand held VHF  
  Cruising Guide  
  Coast Pilot/Sailing Directions  
  Light List  
  Flashlight with batteries  
  Safety harness/PFD  
  Pencils - pack of a dozen sharpened  
  Navigation tools, dividers, parallel rules, calculator  
  Deviation/Variation wheel  
  Red Flashlight  
  Gerber Tool Kit  
  GPS with extra batteries  


  T-shirts one per day  
  Turtlenecks - seasonal  
  Shorts - 4 pair  
  Sweaters - seasonal  
  Wool watch cap - seasonal  
  Underwear - one change per day  
  Personal hygiene items  
  Socks - one change per day  
  Long pants 2 pair seasonal  
  Boat shoes - extra pair  
  Gloves - sailing, rubber, cotton, leather  
  ID, calculator, check books, credit cards  
  Bathing suit  
  Snorkel and Fins  
  Personal and expense money  
  Camera with film
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