• Travel Essentials for a Sailing Trip: What to Pack

    Hooray! We’re sailing!

    You’re going sailing – that’s so exciting! There’s an art to enjoying your time on a sailboat, and here I’ll talk a bit about what you need to pack. I’m a firm believer in never checking luggage. This is especially important if you’re getting to a destination on small planes or ferries and you have tight connections.

    Here are some fundamentals to remember:

    1. No one looks cute while sailing.
    2. Everything runs the risk of falling, getting wet, or going overboard.
    3. You must conserve fresh water, so you’ll be packing some items to ensure you stay clean and fresh although you aren’t taking the kind of showers you do at home.
    4. Space is at a premium.
    5. The weather can change quickly.
    6. Safety first!
    7. The only things that get flushed in the loo/Are things that naturally come out of you.


    Everything you take should be light, multipurpose, and quick-drying, from your luggage to what you put inside it. It’s a process to figure out what works, and over time I’ve developed a list of things I like to take. I’ve put links to these items in the post.

    If you’re flying, you can take a carry-on and a personal item. You’ll want to take only soft-sided luggage that you can fold up and stow after you’ve put your things away.  For your main packing bag, find a carry-on size duffel bag. I use the L.L. Bean Adventure Duffel in Medium. I sprayed it with a waterproofing spray to help protect the contents while I schlep it around.

    Last year I splurged on a fancy personal item * but for years I used one I found for $35 at TJ Maxx. You want something that looks like a big-ass purse, but not so big that it looks like you’re trying to sneak on the plane with two carry-ons.  Something like this might work. I like it to have plenty of pockets and be light and easy to carry. Guys can take a backpack. You’ll be taking this item in the dinghy when you go ashore, unless you plan to use a dry bag, which I’ll discuss below.

    Here’s my fancy personal item, and then a picture of the pink tote I used for years.

    Notice that I packed everything inside it in ziplocks!
    I was packing for 10 days in Croatia, not a sailing trip.

















    I pack everything in packing cubes or ziplock bags. If I use cubes, I want them to have a mesh front so I can easily see what’s inside. These are great.

    I’ll put tops in one, bottoms in one, bathing suits in one, and tuck my socks into my water shoes and slip them in a bag with my sandals. My raingear goes in a ziplock, and so do my undergarments. I wear my heaviest clothes on the plane: pants, heaviest shoes, top, and coverup/jacket.


    Remember, the idea is to take items you can layer, that dry quickly, and that can serve a couple of purposes. A long sleeved shirt is a must, and a button down is the most useful. Put it over a tank and it’s a light jacket. Toss it on over your bathing suit when you’ve gotten enough sun. Sleep in it. I have a blue Columbia one that’s been all over the world with me.

    My guys and I all have this shirt, in fact.










    While pricey, I’ve gotten lots of use out of my Coolibar coverup. I wear it as a jacket on the plane, I might sleep in it for a couple of nights (when it’s not smeared with sunscreen!) and I definitely use it as a sun protective coverup. The striped Catalina coverup is cute also, and you could even wear it as a dress when you go ashore, because no one is dressing up any fancier than that. Two items to use as coverups/layers should be plenty.

    I take five shirts, rolled up tight and stuffed into a ziplock bag or packing cube. I make sure they are thin material that dries quickly, and that each can be worn with all of the bottoms I bring.

    For bottoms, I’ll bring a pair of shorts or two, or maybe a skort, and a pair of light pants. I take 2-3 pair of socks and some quick drying underwear. The men’s version is here. My guys like it so much they wear it all the time.

    I take three pairs of shoes and can get by with two: a pair that can get wet but dry quickly (the fabulous mesh water shoes described below), and whatever you want to wear ashore, which for me is a pair of casual, lightweight sandals.

    All five us us took and really used the hell out of our mesh water shoes. Here are some Men’s water shoes.You can wear them on the boat because the bottoms are white and you won’t slip as much as you do in bare feet. They are awesome to wear when you ride in the dinghy, because there’s always a puddle of dirty water in the bottom of the boat. Stick your fancy shoes that you want to wear ashore (lightweight flat sandals like this for me) in your dry bag with your phone and money, and slip them on after you dock.

    Boys riding in the dinghy with water shoes on










    Don’t forget your rain gear! As an Eagle scout family, we each take rain jackets and rain pants, stuffed into (you guessed it) a ziplock bag. Here is a jacket and pant set for a very reasonable price.

    Proof that you’ll need raingear:

    One minute you’re hanging out…
    The next minute it’s pouring rain.
















    Tut, tut, it looks like rain.










    Staying Clean and Fresh: Toiletries and bathroom gear

    The Turkish towel is what we use for everything we do outside, whether it’s drying off after a swim or lying on the beach. They are super absorbent and dry quickly.  I take two, one for outdoors (sand and seawater) and another for inside (real freshwater baths).

    My guys prefer the microfiber towel for shower time. It also packs up very small and even has a little snap so you can snap it to the lifeline and dry it. You can see a gray one drying in the second picture below.

    My Turkish towel drying in the sun
    Other stuff we wash and dry


















    You can shower on the boat; it’s just not a traditional shower. There’s very little room to move, you must conserve water, and the temperature in the shower is hard to control. Fortunately, there is usually a hand shower on the back of the boat with fresh water. I handle most of my bathing on the back of the boat in my bathing suit. I take some special supplies, up there, including:

    • shampoo bar. I personally like the one from Lush that is pink (Jason and the Argan Oil). I use it to wash my whole self, including my hair. I also use it to soap up the parts I shave;
    • It’s a 10 leave in conditioner (this is a travel size version); and
    • a wide tooth comb, a razor, one of the small microfiber cloths, my turbie twist, and my Turkish towel.
    A few of my shower supplies

    I’ll shave my legs off the back of the boat using sea water because I have no shame. Then I’ll wet myself quickly with fresh water and lather up my body and rinse off, and repeat with my hair. Then all I have to do in the tiny shower is clean my intimate bits. I think it’s a fabulous system.

    During the day when I feel smelly I use Swag wipes. I like the way they smell and they are big enough to do your whole body. Before I go to bed, I dust my feet with Baby powder and wipe them on a microfiber cloth. This gets any bits of sand off my feet before I climb under the covers. Of course, it’s no use doing this if you’re not going to make your bedmate de-sand his or her feet as well.


    Getting serious about hygiene










    After a few days, your clothes smell like sunscreen and sweat. Anegada is a great place to take them ashore and wash them in the sink using the laundry sheets you bring. I realize this picture doesn’t make this look fun, but it’s the highlight of my week.

    I took it ashore in my dry bag, and I’ll wrap it all in my Turkish towel to blot it dry before I hang it up











    Everyone lost their dingys during the hurricanes. They ordered replacements, but they all look exactly alike. That’s no good after a couple of painkillers!

    Wow, I can’t tell these apart.

    It’s no fun to ride in to dinner, have an awesome time, then return to the dock and realize you have no idea which dinghy is yours. So take some glow sticks to hang on your dinghy before you head to shore for dinner. Make sure they have a hole so you can attach them to the boat. And, obviously, bring some string or thin cord to tie them to the dinghy with.

    (It doesn’t hurt to mark your boat also to help you find it in the dark!)




    I also pack:

    3-4 small microfiber cloths: Mine are pink so the boys won’t steal them. We use one in the kitchen for clean up, I use a couple downstairs to ensure that no sand or water gets near my bed, and I use one as a washcloth.

    Everyone brings a headlamp: . If something breaks, you can see to fix it. You can read in the dark. You can use both hands to tie a knot in the evening when it’s hard to see.

    I love these hat clips:. Clip one end to the back of your hat and the other to your shirt, and then when the wind blows (which you want, so your boat will go), you won’t lose your hat.


    I not only attach cables on my sunglasses; I attach them to my reading glasses as well, because I can’t read the chart without them.

    Dry bags in different sizes and colors Have a choice of sizes. Use it to take your laundry ashore and wash some undies in a bathroom sink! It can be your beach bag. Carry your snorkeling stuff around.

    Clothes pins:  Your boat will probably have some, but we usually need more. Use the extras to seal bags of chips, etc.

    Bungee cord: We always travel with bungee cords because they are so damn handy! Use them to fashion an indoor clothes line, add a handle to something you need to carry, feed it through a sleeve of your hanging shirt on a windy day in case a clothes pin blows off, or lash down that bit of sail that’s flapping and making noise.

    We each pack a water bottle to cut down on trash during the trip. I’m a freak about having my water ice-cold, so I make sure to take a bottle with a removable top and mouth large enough to accommodate ice cubes. I attach it to my personal item with a carabiner.

    My guys on Loblolly with their gear










    Thanks for taking me sailing, Mom










    Still lovin’ it!
  • He Should Have Been A Lawyer

    I’ve taught the guys that when things don’t go their way, they should tackle the problem head on, preferably in writing, with citations, and without grammatical errors. But you knew that. You remember the Tattle Box, don’t you? It’s gratifying to see that 13 years later, Finn has mastered the art of the written appeal.



    You can read about the Tattle Box here.

  • On Her Way

    I overheard Porter getting all riled up this afternoon:

    “Drew, MOVE your clothes so I can vacuum. And don’t think about leaving that bowl there. Take it downstairs and stick it in the dishwasher.”

    Yes, his girlfriend comes to visit tomorrow. Stay tuned.


  • Thanking You With Food & Gift Ideas

    Well, the response to my last post just bowled me over.  Y’all were so kind to send your prayers, suggestions, compliments on my hot physical therapist/husband and recommendations for a massage table.  Several of you are fighting pain battles of your own, and there is strength in numbers.  Hearing each of your stories made me feel stronger and more determined: “If she can do it, so can I, because I am Superwoman, hear me roar!”

    It’s hard to know how to convey thanks over the internet, but I figured you could always use some new recipes, and of course Mothers’ Day is coming up, so gift ideas might be welcome.

    I. Recipes

    (Lawyers love to organize documents with Roman numerals)

    One time I tried one of Cooking Light’s desserts.  It was a disaster.  The magazine took a classic recipe, replaced all the ingredients with fat-free versions,  and reduced the amount of chocolate chips required.  The end result was crumbly and not even the dog would eat it.  It was my fault I guess– desserts are meant to be sinful, not reduced-calorie.  Anyway, I quit using the magazine after that debacle, even though some of our favorite recipes originated there, like Pork Lo Mein and I think the Chicken Fricassee with Orzo.

    I’ve picked up a couple of the latest issues, however,  and had Bill select recipes, and we’ve hit the jackpot.

    Like everyone else, we’re trying to cut costs, and groceries are a great place to cut.  I still make a master list for the week and try to get it all done in one trip.  For chicken recipes, I’ve been purchasing the breasts on the bone, and Bill and I fix ourselves a gin and tonic and have a boning party on Sunday afternoon.  You can save at least $2 per pound this way.  Publix had boneless chicken breasts on sale this week for $1.50 per pound, so I stocked up on those and froze them.

    I’ve proclaimed that I’m a seafood snob, and buy only from the fishmonger.  That’s changed.  We have plenty of shrimp recipes that are heavily seasoned, and I’ve been experimenting with frozen shrimp.  Aldi and Costco sell frozen, uncooked shrimp which are much cheaper than fresh shrimp and my family hasn’t noticed a difference.

    Now when I go to Costco I buy seven gallons of milk, Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese, several packages of Stacy’s Pita Chips, coffee beans, salted and unsalted butter (I freeze it and use as needed) and packages of shrimp.

    That said, here’s what we’ve been enjoying lately.

    Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi (that link will take you to a page where you can print out the recipe)

    I’ll admit, I’m more about the Cooking than the Light, so I may have used seven tablespoons of butter instead of teaspoons, and I added more garlic, and of course I used fresh, not bottled garlic, and we all slurped it up.  I made extra and Porter ate the rest for an after-school snack.

    Stir-Fried Shrimp with Garlic and Chile Sauce

    Dude!  I may have actually followed the recipe on this one.  I served it with noodles and a cucumber salad.  Porter is in charge of making the cucumber salad, but basically it’s:

    2 cukes, peeled or not, seeded or not (chef’s choice) halved lengthwise and sliced

    Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds (you can purchase them already toasted), a tiny bit of sesame oil, some rice vinegar, a dash of soy sauce.  For the spicy version, add a squirt of Sriracha .

    Not everything we eat is Asian.  The Chipotle Sloppy Joes were a great success.

    Some of these recipes call for pre-sliced veggies.  Knock yourself out if you have that kind of money.  Otherwise chop it yourself.  Also, I’m getting a bit peeved about the number of cans of chipotle chiles I purchase, just to use one chile.  (You find these in the grocery by the taco kits).  Last night I made another recipe that called for one chile and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce, so I spread the remainder on some wax paper and stuffed it in a baggie and froze it.  If I remember that it’s there, I’ll let you know how a thawed chipotle tastes.

    I have the same beef with tomato paste.  It’s one thing to buy a can for 33 cents at Aldi and just use a tablespoon.  But it irks me to spend 89 cents on it at Publix and use less than a third of it.  I know it can be spread out and frozen; again, the trick is remembering that you have a flat square of frozen tomato paste in your freezer when you’re trying to prepare dinner between Cub Scouts and drums.

    I thought that Curried Beef Short Ribs sounded nasty, but Bill thought differently and Finn complained that he never gets to eat red meat so I gave it a go.  It was one of our favorites of the year.  The recipe says that 2 pounds of ribs will feed six, but I would only go by that if three of you are vegetarians.  Next time I’ll use at least 3.5 pounds.

    Red curry paste used to be difficult to find – I had to go to the Asian market for it.  No longer!  Now it’s in the aisle with the soy sauce in a glass jar.  Always start with half the amount a recipe calls for and add more, tasting as you go.  Some people must like to use the stuff to blow out all their earwax during dinner, but I think that’s what Q-tips are for.

    Coconut milk is in the same place – there will be some in the Mexican section and some in the Asian section and one will be cheaper.  I never buy the low fat or light anything.  Fish sauce is there, too, but I do think it’s worth going to the Asian market or Whole Foods and getting a decent bottle.  Don’t smell it if you’ve never cooked with it before.  Just use it.

    The rest of these recipes are Asian.  But if you click on the Let’s Eat tab in the left sidebar you’ll see plenty of family-friendly non-Asian recipes.

    Hoisin Flank Steak with Asian Cucumber Salad fulfilled Finn’s desire for red meat while giving us an alternative to our usual cucumber salad, and it was yummy.  I sprinkled cashews on my salad to be daring.

    I usually don’t fool with goofy ideas like the wonton chips that they mention, but I did those, too.  We hate five-spice powder, though, so I brushed the wontons with sesame oil and sprinkled them with sesame seeds.  The guys felt like they were getting to eat bread, which is rare in our house.  Every week they say they want rolls with dinner and every week I come home and tell them I forgot to buy them at the grocery store.  I figure that makes up for the fact that we are sinners who eat white rice instead of brown.

    Guess where I got the cashews I sprinkled on my funky salad?  They were left over from our Chicken, Cashew and Red Pepper Stir-Fry.  I wasn’t going to try this because sometimes I think all stir-frys are alike, but this one got Cooking Light’s highest rating, and why would I ignore a winner?  It was peppy and simple.

    Finally, Finn has become a devotee of Chicken Panang, which he’s had at a restaurant in NYC and here in Birmingham.  We’ve cut back on eating out, but he didn’t cut back on his desire for Chicken Panang, so I explored the internet, mixed a little of this with a little of that, and came up with the following recipe:

    Chicken Panang:

    1 pound chicken cut in strips

    1 cup coconut milk

    2  T red curry paste (I actually use about 1.5 t)

    1 T fish sauce

    2 T peanut butter (choosy moms choose Jif)

    1 T sugar

    1 sliced red bell pepper

    8 basil leaves, sliced

    Brown the chicken in a little oil.  Push it to the side and fry the curry paste for a minute.  Add the coconut milk and stir til the paste is mixed in.  Add the pb, fish sauce, sugar, and bell pepper.  Stir everything together.   Cook about five minutes and add the basil.

    II. Mother’s Day

    While we’re on the topic of cooking, I have a couple of kitchen related gifts to suggest.  You know how you always buy a pepper grinder and it works for a couple of months and then dies?  I did quite a bit of pepper grinder research last winter and discovered the Unicorn Magnum Plus Pepper Mill .  I gave it to my mother-in-law, who has been pleased with it.  They offer a smaller version also.

    Nothing is more infuriating than to cook in a kitchen without a sharp knife, but knives can be costly.  New York magazine had an article about a knife that is reasonably-priced, a good size for many tasks, and holds its blade.  I bought it for my mother-in-law also. The Victorinox Cutlery 8-Inch Chef’s Knife is quite a bargain – though you can spend more if you splurge for the one with the rosewood handle.

    The best item I’ve purchased all year is unromantic.  We had a set of two cordless phones with an answering machine, and then we bought another phone, but they were cheap, the batteries kept fizzling, and we didn’t have enough phone coverage for the house.  The phone would ring and I’d sprint from room to room, only to stop in disgust as the machine picked up and recorded Bill saying, “Honey, I know you are at home.  Why don’t you answer me?”

    I invested in the Panasonic Dect 6.0 Series 4 Handset Cordless Phone System with Answering System and my life is much improved.  The handsets are numbered so we know which one is missing, there’s an intercom system if I need a boy to refresh my ice water while I’m in bed, and I am nicer to my family as a result.

    Of course, some would argue that Mother’s Day is for sweeter gifts, like a Mac Viva Glam VI Lipstick and Lipglass.  (I can’t make a link to it, but it’s a color that’s flattering on most.)  Does your mother work out?  Has she been wearing the same faded shirt to exercise in for years?  Buy her some new workout wear.  Academy has a large selection at great prices.

    Look around the house and see if there are things she uses every single day that have gotten beat up and gnarly.  Some ladies would love a new set of measuring cups.  Others would spit in your eye upon receipt.

    Maybe she needs some SLOGGERS Garden Clogs to wear while she putters in the mud.  Maybe some fancy Glossing Shampoo shampoo would cheer her up.  (I use the shampoo and conditioner and love them.)

    I saw that Pottery Barn has some colorful cocktail glasses.  Fun!


    Okay, it’s time for me and Bill to head to physical therapy for another lesson.  I’ll let you all put suggestions for recipes AND Mother’s Day gifts in the comments.

    The theme for Flashback Friday this week is “The Letter R.”  I don’t have a clue how I came up with that or what I’ll do with it, but feel free to join in.


    One year ago on My Tiny Kingdom: All For One