Get Ready for the Bell’s Beer Bayview to Mackinac-Packing Light

By Wally Cross

Packing Light

As the race nears, make sure you prepare your boat to race and not cruise. It seems like many people look at sailing long distance as vacation vs. a challenge. I think it’s fun to look for ways to shed excess weight through food and gear choices in order to give your boat the best chance to sail fast in potentially light conditions. Remember, if your boat is light and the bottom clean , your chances of sailing fast are greatly improved. Most people will clean the boat bottom, but few push the weight limits. Here are some suggestions based on my offshore package:

  • Compact boat stove
  • Stainless coffee pot
  • Stainless thermos secured to bulkhead with shock cord
  • Water filter
  • Shoe pocket organizer for cups and hot sauce
  • Individual stainless cups for each crew
  • Freeze-dried food, powdered coffee, soup, and energy drink

This package is lightweight and does not have an expiration date.

For individual gear I recommend lightweight, but warm layers. I am not a fan of boots or heavy clothing to stay warm because of the weight and t he fact it is harder to move. I prefer wearing multiple layers of thin camping cloths and a good quality outer layer that is lightweight, waterproof, and flexible. Each person’s gear should fit in a normal backpack with all packs placed on one bunk for the entire crew.

In addition to light food and sailing gear, keep spare equipment to a minimum. One extra sheet, a small tool bag, sail repair kit, first aid, tape, sunscreen, bug spray. Also bring two to four light blankets to stay warm when sleeping.

My list may seem short on comforts; but then again, the faster you sail the sooner you’ll be able to savor that hot shower and cold drink on the other end.

Next time I will cover options for establishing a watch system.

Quantum’s Wally Cross is a 45-year veteran of the Bayview Mac Race. Over the coming weeks, Cross will provide information and tips to help teams prepare for a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Wally is available for in-person or phone consultations with interested boat owners. To review your program or for more information, contact Wally at or 586-776-1330.

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