Instead of wondering what's on the boat and what you're out of, why not create a list? You can even download my template in Word!

What’s on the Boat?

If you’re a weekend cruiser, you probably ask yourself what’s on the boat numerous times as you’re getting ready to head back to the boat.  How much cereal is there?  Do I need to take more coffee? 

It’s tough to remember everything.  And yet, when you’re planning on jumping aboard and taking off for a few days, the last thing you want is to forget something “critical.”  Like, say, that coffee.  And so you tend to bring more . . . and then discover that you’ve already got four pounds!

Instead, why not create a list of everything you want to keep on the boat?  I created a simple “grocery list” in Word (you could also use Excel or even a handwritten and copied sheet) and try to check items off as I use them up (or use them down to the point where I need to buy more).

Then, before you leave the boat, do a final quick inventory just to double-check that you didn’t forget to check some things.

A few notes:

  • I organize my list by aisles in my grocery store, to make it easier when shopping.  Others prefer to organize the list by locker, which makes it easier to take inventory.  Some other system may make more sense to you!
  • If you use this list for shopping, you might want to include a section of “stuff to always bring.”  This would include anything that you didn’t want to leave on the boat, but that you consider a staple — an example might be sandwich bread.
  • You might also want a section on things to be sure to take OFF the boat each time you leave.  For example, if you’re in a hot climate and the boat will be closed up for a couple weeks, you might want to keep a small spice box that you take back and forth rather than leave them on the boat for the whole season.  (This could also be part of your “close up the boat” checklist.)

A standard list of “what’s on the boat” is invaluable at home too.  When you’re planning meals for the weekend, you can quickly look to see if ingredients you need are already on the boat.  Admittedly, if you’ve been “weekend cruising” for a couple of years, you may just know.   But the first year, it’s nice to have a list!

While it does take a bit of time to create your list the first time — and edit it a few times as you discover what you’ve forgotten — it saves a lot of time in the future, and makes the whole process a lot less stressful.  And spending a weekend on the boat isn’t supposed to be stressful!

You can download a blank copy of my grocery list (no items listed) in Word (.doc) format.  Put your own things in each section and leave a couple of blank lines in each one, too — I always find something that I want to add.  You can also change the headings.  While this is set up for my printer, you may have to change margins slightly for yours.

Download Now

Instead of wondering what's on the boat and what you're out of, why not create a list?  You can even download my template in Word!

I'd like to know about...

Explore more

Want weekly tidbits of cruising information? Sign up for The Boat Galley's free weekly newsletter. You'll get the newest articles and podcasts as well as a few relevant older articles that you may have missed.

Do you find The Boat Galley useful? You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site or clicking below. No extra cost for you!

  • Captain Tiki
    Posted at 11 March 2013 Reply

    I really like your first choice of what’s “critical”. COFFEE, of course! BTW- I’m enjoying your book.

  • Kevin Quade
    Posted at 12 March 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the document. We will enjoy using it!

  • D and Don svsoutherncross
    Posted at 19 November 2013 Reply

    Thanks Carolyn for the “starter.”


  • Thomas Jensen
    Posted at 24 November 2013 Reply

    I even use a check list for my iddy-biddy boat. It’s no fun trying to sail without a centerboard.

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 24 November 2013 Reply

      Very difficult to go upwind 🙂 We have checklists for all sorts of things, and basic packing lists for travel that we edit for each trip and so on.

  • Deb MacConnell
    Posted at 24 November 2013 Reply

    A great app… Out Of Milk… Great for inventory boat house etc…check it out!!!!!

  • Scott
    Posted at 22 June 2014 Reply

    I grew up in an area that was a long ways from anywhere. My parents would go grocery shopping once or twice a month. The system that we used to let them know what was needed was fairly low tech. There was a not pad hanging on the wall next to the pantry (Very large walking pantry). I an item was taken from the pantry it was written on that pad. So if we needed to open a new jar of mayonnaise, then who ever grabbed it would write Mayonnaise on the list. If Mayonnaise was already on the list, then we would add a “X2” or “x3” depending on how many jars were used. Then when my parents would go to town, they would just grab the list and take it with them. We were all fairly diligent about keeping the list updated. Because if we didn’t, we would have to do with out a certain item for possibly a month. It only takes that mistake once with your favorite item to drive the point home.

  • Nancy Ptacek McCartney
    Posted at 16 October 2014 Reply

    I just added the app to my phone, you can scan everything you have and keep a running list on hand at all times

  • Ron Newton
    Posted at 16 October 2014 Reply

    I keep a grocery list on my phone with the grocery IQ app, I add a item to list when I get low or when planning meals.

  • Mia Lommi
    Posted at 17 October 2014 Reply

    Great ideas!

  • Bart Trish Masker
    Posted at 19 October 2014 Reply

    Love this. Please share your “Close up boat” list!!!

  • Sarah Nagel Silverstein
    Posted at 19 October 2014 Reply

    we have been cruising now for 3 years with our family. This template has been priceless as we’ve provisioned from Argentina to Fiji! Thank you!

  • Bill
    Posted at 23 July 2016 Reply

    Where is it? (Not the doc, I found that.) The coffee. Is it under the vberth in the red container or in the bilge in the blue one? Maybe it is under the starboard settee with the creamer?

    How do you keep track of what you have, in what quantity, and where you have it? Scot alluded to this in his comment. Have you covered this before in a previous post? I think the tracking of staple (and emergency) stores is part and parcel of the provisioning list. There will always be that “woo hoo thays gots tree ripe MANGOES” moments; and there will be those wonderful “never had it but it smells good” and “how do you cook that” moments but I’ll always want to know that I have “x lbs beans and x lbs rice”.

    BTW, I *always* know where the coffee is. The Limeys may sail on rum but I think coffee is one of the threads that ties me to humanity.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 23 July 2016 Reply

      Part of it is just giving yourself a little time. Just as living in a house you know where things are, you learn where you put them in the boat. But I have written about it, too: Knowing Where Stuff Is

  • Jeri Thomson Novak
    Posted at 11 August 2016 Reply

    When I try to read this post I keep getting redirected to Yahoo. Only this post. Have they been hacked or have I been hacked?

  • Steve Hanley
    Posted at 11 August 2016 Reply

    Works for me

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 12 August 2016 Reply

    Jeri I’m not having any problem.

  • Jeri Thomson Novak
    Posted at 12 August 2016 Reply

    If u commented, I can’t get to it. Keep being sent to yahoo. Pls PM me.

  • The Boat Galley
    Posted at 12 August 2016 Reply

    Jeri Thomson Novak – I can’t PM you, for some reason it’s greyed out. I don’t know why you are having a problem. If you’re on mobile, try a regular computer or vice versa. It could be Facebook . . .

  • Rose Mari Sephton
    Posted at 17 December 2017 Reply


  • Carmen Rich
    Posted at 17 December 2017 Reply

    Thanks! This is great!

  • Larry Rau
    Posted at 17 December 2017 Reply

    not only for food, but for everything of importance, what , where, how much.

  • Rebecca Turner Williams
    Posted at 18 December 2017 Reply

    I am terrible at list making. I start them and don’t finish them, or I finish them and don’t use them, or I lose them, or I never have them with me when I need them. At age 63 I don’t expect I’ll change now. My methods aren’t optimal but we haven’t starved yet so I imagine we’ll make do. I do admire your ability to be so organized though.

  • Jennifer Baehre
    Posted at 19 December 2017 Reply

    Very timely. I just made a Costco run. Shoved things under the settee that I have already forgotten about ! At least I have a large bottle of vodka and 58 Kind bars in there somewhere!

Post A Comment