June 2012

Charter savvy

Be prepared for your next cruise

Charter savvy

Charter companies provide the basics, but small items like navigation instruments, toolboxes and flashlights may not be checked because of the quick turnaround of the chartered boat.

Items may be present but damaged, rusted or so neglected that they’re no longer useful. Bring or ship a few necessary items ahead of time to ensure you have all the gear you need.

Navigation tools

The dividers may have slid around in the chart table so much that their ends resemble fish hooks. It’s 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 a pair of binoculars.

Always bring a portable GPS and a set of spare batteries. It’s good to have a backup, and programming waypoints may be time-consuming if you don’t know how to work the onboard GPS.

Bring your own charts and cruising guides, as well as a light list and Coast Pilot or Sailing Directions for the area in which you will be chartering.


Charter companies may provide life jackets that are too bulky to wear routinely, so bring your own personal inflatable jacket with a built-in safety harness. It’ll be more comfortable and already adjusted to your size.

You don’t have to bring extra line, but make sure the charter boat has plenty of dock lines and lines that can be rigged as jack lines before leaving the charter dock.

Also, bring along a knife, marlinspike, small sharpening stone and multipurpose tool.

A handheld VHF makes a good backup to the boat’s radio, and you can use it in the cockpit, so you don’t have to go below.


You should be able to handle most temporary repairs with a small set of screwdrivers, wrenches, a pair of wire cutters and pliers. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight, a 20-foot hank of fine line, and some whipping thread.

WD-40, electrical tape and duct tape also come in handy. A film canister of assorted size cotter pins and a roll of rip-stop tape should prepare you for most minor emergencies.

You might want to check to see if the charter company provides soft wooden bungs that can be used to plug a leak should a hose or through-hull fail. If not, bring your own.

Bring some extra tie wraps. On one vessel I chartered, the diesel shutdown solenoids didn’t work on both engines. When we needed to shut down the engines, we had to go in the engine room and manually pull the cutoffs with a tie wrap attached to the linkage.

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.

Last but not least, pack a can opener and a corkscrew, so you won’t have to open that bottle of wine you saved for the last night with a rusty screwdriver.  –Michael McBride


Celebrate the USPS Centennial with a hat or shirt from the Ship's Store.

Mastering Marlinespike

Slipped bowline

The slipped bowline is useful when the load on the loop is constant and you need a quick release.


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