Charter companies always say they provide everything . . . and they do a pretty good job of it. But tucking a couple of extras in your suitcase will ensure you have the galley tools you need.

Chartering? Take These!

If you’re heading out on a bareboat charter (or renting a condo for some land travel), I’ve got a few things that you might want to add to your packing list.

You see, the charter companies all say they’ve got everything you need for the kitchen/galley.  But my experience is that while you can get by with what’s there, I’m happier if I bring along a few things so that I know I’ve got some basic tools that I like.

Knife and Sharpener.  I like using sharp knives, and I’ve never found one on a bareboat charter.  I think they just get knocked around a bit and some may be a little careless in using them, and there is never a knife sharpener.  Now, I don’t take my best knife with me, but I do take a decent one and a sharpener.   If you’re planning to catch any fish, be sure to take a fillet knife (see my favorite); I’ve never seen one on a charter boat that is not a sportfishing charter.  If you don’t want to take one of your knives, at least take an inexpensive sharpener so you can “improve” whatever knives are there.  If you take a knife, remember that it has to go in checked luggage!

Can Opener.  It is absolutely horrible to wake up your first morning, go to make a pot of coffee to enjoy in a beautiful anchorage, and discover that the can opener doesn’t work and you can’t open the can of coffee.  Can openers are often beaten up on charter boats or just don’t work from the salt air.  Again, it’s not hard to stick a manual one in your luggage (see my favorite) and then you know you’ll be able to open that can of coffee — and anything else in a can.

Insulated Mugs.  On our first charter, we learned that coffee quickly goes cold in a “normal” mug if there’s even the slightest breeze.  Taking insulated mugs for everyone will make those mornings in the cockpit all that much better!  Pack other small items inside the mugs so you don’t waste space. See my favorite mug here.

Vegetable Peeler.  Our first charter boat didn’t have a vegetable peeler on board, a fact that we discovered when we went to peel potatoes for dinner.  We ended up doing the job with a paring knife, which took quite a bit longer.  Ever since then, I take a peeler with me, and about half the time find that I need it.

Plastic Food Containers.  These really help to keep food organized in the refrigerator.  Charter boats usually have one or two on board; on our first charter, we were able to beg a few more from the company as they’d just gotten some and hadn’t put them all onto boats yet.  But on subsequent trips, we packed some of our clothes into plastic containers and then put them in the suitcases.  We found that they are also great on the way home for packing and protecting somewhat fragile souvenirs.

Dish Rag.  Okay, I’m spoiled by my Scrubr non-stinky dish rag . . . both in how it just never stinks and how well it cleans dishes.  On our our last trip, I found myself wishing I had it every time I did dishes.  It’s tiny, so next time I’m taking it!

Meal Plan and Recipes.  If you’ve planned your meals in advance (I heartily recommend it), be sure to take a copy of your provisioning list, meal plan and recipes.  I also have my Kindle copy of The Boat Galley Cookbook with me on both a tablet and my smart phone in case I need to look up a substitution or find a different recipe that works with the provisions that I actually find (and “finding” a fish on the end of the line is always a good reason to change the meal plan).

Flashlight/Head Lamp and Spare Batteries.  Whether it’s trying to find something in the refrigerator or grilling after dark, there are so many times that a small flashlight or head lamp is useful on a boat.  We use them every day!

Packing List.  Be sure to take a list of what all you took with you!  Particularly if you take some galley tools with you, it’s easy to forget about them when you pack up.  If you check the packing list before you leave the boat, you can be sure you’re taking everything you came with . . . plus tons of great memories!

Are there other things you always take on charter?  Leave a note in the comments!

Chartering a bareboat? Tucking a couple of extras in your suitcase will ensure you have the galley tools you need for meal prep.

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  • Bill Dixon
    Posted at 08 February 2013 Reply

    We always took a hand held radio, and today would take a hh chart plotter.

  • burce
    Posted at 08 February 2013 Reply

    I always have a can opener with me – its on my key ring and is called a P38. They used to come with the old ‘C’ rations issued by the armed services. Mine went onto my key ring in high school and is still working fine. There is a new civilian version in stainless that is somewhat larger. Once you learn the knack of using one, they are as fast as the bigger manual openers but much lighter and handy.

  • Wendy
    Posted at 08 February 2013 Reply

    I always take along spices in snack pack size baggies. To have to go out and buy all your spices is way too costly and are usually left behind. I buy small amounts at bulk food stores, label with a marker and everyone knows what it is.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 08 February 2013 Reply

      Great idea, Wendy!

    • Liz
      Posted at 02 September 2014 Reply

      We are avid boaters/campers so taking along all our favorite seasonsings is a must. I reuse/re-label plastic prescription bottles to store my spices. They are relatively the same height, see-through to know when we need more. Unlike the baggies, the smells won’t permeate onto packed clothing or other food items.

  • Annette Baker
    Posted at 08 February 2013 Reply

    Take extra dish towels. The ones we’ve gotten on charter were few in number especially if you have three or four couples aboard and you do some cooking. We take a few McCormick Recipe Inspiration packets. Even if we don’t use the recipe there are convenient small amounts of a variety of spices. Maybe obvious but we take water bottles too.

  • Judie Ashford
    Posted at 13 February 2013 Reply

    I always take a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears and decent tongs.

  • Waterwoman
    Posted at 15 February 2013 Reply

    Maybe a favorite wine bottle opener?

  • Latis510
    Posted at 07 October 2013 Reply

    A non-breakable french press coffee pot – no electricity or filters needed and works with almost any standard grind coffee. We stuff with socks or a t-shirt to transport to avoid breakage and takes up almost no space.
    We always take plastic zip bags – so useful for all sorts of stuff – can be used for tossing seasoning/marinating and saves so much space in ice box and easier to store the inevitable leftovers. Also take zip veggie bags which helps contents stay fresher.
    And for spices; three essentials – plastic grinders for each of salt and pepper and a tin of Old Bay.

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 07 October 2013 Reply

    I take my knife, a zester, peeler, and my manual food processor. All are small enough to fit in the checked luggage. I now will be adding the mugs and sharpener too. Thank you The Boat Galley!

  • MWhite:LittleCunningPlan
    Posted at 08 October 2013 Reply

    I put the dish and wash cloths on my ‘wish’ list on Amazon. Those look very handy!

  • Clay Greene
    Posted at 08 October 2013 Reply

    The headlamp also is good for helping you find your boat in the dark in a crowded anchorage. This is a particular problem if you have been overserved at the local bar, not that I would know anything about that.

    One of my best memories of our first trip to the BVI was watching one of my friends make guacamole by pounding the avocados with a metal coffee pot. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention and his creative solution to the scarcity of the galley make the guacamole taste all the better. The rum punches didn’t hurt either. In fact, the guacamole may have been the same night as the getting lost in the anchorage incident, so now I have come full circle, so to speak.

  • Linda T
    Posted at 02 September 2014 Reply

    A battery operated fan to make sleeping more comfortable. Amazon has one for around $13 that was easy to pack since it folds fairly flat.

  • Diana
    Posted at 02 September 2014 Reply

    Lots of zip-loc bags…all sizes. Spices in baggies, but will now be trying the spices in the Tic-Tac containers. Nutmeg and a grater just in case you need a Painkiller!

  • Carol
    Posted at 03 September 2014 Reply

    I always bring extra clothes pins and a small clothes line (small rope) and yes on the kitchen shears!

  • Steve Charlebois
    Posted at 17 September 2014 Reply

    We always take our headset communication system with us. It really helps when you are in unfamiliar waters with a boat that is new to you. It makes anchoring and mooring so much easier and civil. We use the Eartec Simultalk 24G 2-way system on our boat and love it!

  • Kirk Gunn
    Posted at 01 December 2016 Reply

    Great suggestions above…. good call on the spices as Old Bay is one of our daily staples.

    Few more suggestions –

    Bungy cords/duct tape/small lines: You’re on a boat and always need a little extra line/bungies/duct tape… can’t believe I sailed for a week without duct tape !

    Good stick-lighter or wind-proof matches: our grill was mounted on the aft-port quarter with little protection from ever-constant 15+ mph breezes. The matches provided were pretty useless at getting charcoal started.

    Cooler: BYO if you can swing the transportation through the airports (pack clothes inside ?). Moorings supplied a large cooler, but was an off-market model and we went through $15-20 a day in ice…. Spent more on ice than we did on rum, and we drank a LOT of rum.

  • Tony Gariepy
    Posted at 01 December 2016 Reply

    A great article, and many comments for more ideas! I’m wondering where the clothes go…

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 01 December 2016 Reply

      Don’t need many clothes! A swim suit or two . . . t-shirt . . . shorts . . . sandals . . . hat.

  • Dawn Custode
    Posted at 22 December 2017 Reply

    I always bring a set of bbq tongs to use and leave there (cheap dollar store ones will do!). Makes BBQing so much easier!

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