Overnight Boat Trips: Essential Tips for Sleeping Onboard

There is a lot to be said for the experience of spending the night onboard a boat, bobbing gently on calm waters, far away from the chaos of the land, and it’s something we recommend everybody try at least once if they ever find themselves wondering about it. However, there are some important considerations to be taken into account and preparations to make before setting off on an exciting overnight boat trip. In this article, we will look at some elements of boating to ensure everyone aboard remains safe at all times and has the best chance to enjoy such a charming, relaxing activity. 
If you have a few moments, please take some time to explore Isabella Yachts in Phuket and marvel at our wonderful range of yacht charter options, both bareboat and crewed.

Understanding the vessel

An in-depth knowledge of your chosen vessel is certainly preferable when making plans to take an overnight trip. However, this is not always possible, but you should at least have the chance to walk on the vessel beforehand and ascertain the exact nature of its accommodation options. Outdoor vs indoor sleeping makes a drastic difference to how you will plan the trip and even the supplies and items you will pack. Consider the following:

  • What happens if you are sleeping on deck and it starts raining?
  • Is the interior of the vessel suitable for sleeping if it becomes impossible on deck?
  • How many sets of sleeping equipment will you need?
  • Do you intend to separate sleepers using hung sheets or small tents?
  • Of all your guests, are there any who are likely to be content ‘roughing it’? 
  • Any whom you absolutely must cater more carefully for? Why? In what ways can you help?

Without going overboard (literally and figuratively) try to envisage any possible scenarios you might encounter, assess their seriousness, and make accommodations for each of them accordingly.

Essential items to pack when staying overnight on boats

No matter how robust and adaptable your guests are, they need a bare minimum of sleeping equipment, including:

  • Roll mat 
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Pillow

Wooden decks and other surfaces on board waterborne vessels are not always the most comfortable places to lie down, and it might be impractical to give everyone a spot on the sofa. Give some serious consideration to hammocks if you have enough sturdy places to hang them from safely. Sleeping in a hammock is not something every guest will take to right away, but it is certainly an authentic, simplistic way to sleep on a boat or ship, done since time immemorial.

  • Cooking equipment and ample food/drink supplies

This will depend very much on your chosen vessel and whether it already contains a galley stocked with equipment. If not, you will have to make do with camping stoves and cooler boxes, so find those in advance and give some thought as to how you might secure them in place if the seas are unforgiving.

  • Safety equipment

It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of all overnight guests as much as possible, and there are certain safety items it is highly irresponsible to leave without, namely:

  • Ample life jackets
  • Comprehensive first-aid kit
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flares
  • Flashlights and headlamps
  • Radio communication devices (both marine VHF radios and satellite phones if possible)
  • GPS anchor alarm (this alerts you if you start to drift)

Safety checks and important factors to consider

It is crucial to ensure your vessel is in acceptable condition before taking guests on board and setting sail for an overnight adventure. This includes everything from running water in the bathroom to healthy, operational engines, well-conditioned sails, and full gas tanks in the galley. Sit quietly for as long as it takes to envisage any potential snags or unfortunate outcomes and how best to mitigate them. This sounds drastic, but there is nothing better in an emergency than already having considered it and knowing exactly what to do. Calm heads must prevail when things go wrong, and as the host, it is your duty to be the calmest, most authoritative among them. 

Insist on a safety briefing with all occupants before the vessel even leaves the dock, focusing on:

  • What to do if the craft starts taking on water
  • The insistence that life jackets are worn at all times on deck and the locations of the jackets below deck
  • Where flashlights/radios are stored, and any emergency frequencies to be noted
  • The contents of the first aid kit and how to use them
  • How to operate the craft if the person who normally does is incapacitated
  • Lifting the anchor safely

The dreaded seasickness

Seasickness caused by the constant motion of a vessel, especially on rough waters is no joke and can be utterly debilitating. There are very few ways to effectively combat this sensation, but if you can, try to provide:

  • Plenty of fresh water 
  • Over-the-counter remedies to dish out as and when required
  • Acupressure wristbands

Discourage guests from drinking to excess and always have one eye on the safety and comfort of all aboard. 

Give people privacy wherever possible

The subject of privacy onboard is not an easy one to generalise, as all individuals and groups have different dynamics and sets of expectations. Try to gauge the mood before setting sail and ascertain people’s expectations regarding their sleeping environment. Some need nothing more than a roll mat and sleeping bag. Others will be higher maintenance and need additional privacy and comfort. If there are no quarters below and people will be sleeping on the deck, consider providing small tents or hanging material on lines to give people some privacy. 

  • Tip: Provide your guests with earplugs and eye masks to help them sleep comfortably

Final preparations

  • Plan your route meticulously and inform someone remaining on the land of the precise details
  • Check the predicted weather for your planned route
  • Acquire knowledge of the tides, currents, and potential hazards, preferably directly from someone with experience in your exact location 
  • Be aware of any marine life you might expect to encounter and what to do if it happens

Contact us

Hopefully, this guide and set of tips has whetted your appetite and given you the impetus to try overnight sailing. If so, or if you simply have questions and comments about what you have read, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. Our team of experienced staff members will gladly give you all the open information and guidance they can and any details of yacht charters you may be interested in taking with Isabella Yachts Phuket. With over 25 private yachts, we have something perfect for your intended trip, whether you prefer the challenge of sailing alone, with a crew, or with the additional convenience of a motor. 

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