What to Bring in your Personal Boat Tote for a 1-Day Cruise or Day Sail

If you’re going on a 1-day boat cruise or day sail, there’s some important essentials you’ll want to pack in your personal boat tote to make your day on the water comfortable and fun. 

So, whether you’re headed on the high seas fishing charter, day sail or inland harbor sunset cruise, these personal boat tote must haves will get you through your sea adventure!

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What to Bring in your Personal Boat Tote for a 1-Day Cruise or Day Sail

Boat Tote Must Haves - Sailboat Family

Before you go all hog wild on packing your cruise bag, find out how big the boat you will be cruising or sailing on. See if they have onboard lockers where you can stow your gear. If there are no lockers, be selective on what you’ll be taking on your day cruise. Leave your expensive electronics and jewelry at home.

Boat Tote or Dry Bag

Your personal boat tote or cruise bag is what is going to carry everything you need for your day on the lake or day sail. While fashion is fun, I’m here to tell you that function is most important.

A waterproof dry bag or boat dry duffle is perfect for day cruises because they are waterproof. Thus, keeping all of your contents safe and dry.

However, having been on many day sails and 1-day boat trips myself, I’ve beach totes with lots of pockets inside and outside are ideal.

Whichever boat tote you use, it should have pockets inside and outside to keep your boating essentials easily accessible yet out of sight. Make sure it has a waterproof bottom in case you have to set it on the wet deck or seat. My personal favorite are the SCOUT bags and totes.

Extra Clothing

It’s a given that you’re going to get wet underway during your boat ride. Or, you may want to change your clothes underway fitting to the weather. So, pack a lightweight change of clothing in your personal boat tote or cruise bag to take on your sea adventure.

The morning of your day sail, I recommend layering your clothes. You can always shed your outer clothes if you get uncomfortable.

Also, we’ve found that clothing is made of quick-drying and UPF +50 sun protection fabrics is best for this underway adventures. Speaking from personal experience, long sleeve shirts are best to cover the arms. There’s a great selection of functional yet fashionable long sleeve, wick-away, UPF tops for men and for women.

Regarding pants vs. shorts, consider wearing a pair of zip-off, quick-dry pants for men or for women instead of just shorts. Because you may get a little cold on your way back to the pier. They’re also awesome because you can literally zip off the lower legs to make shorts or zip on to make pants. Again, fast drying fabrics are best for splashing swells.

Waterproof Dry Bags

Stating the obvious, on your sea adventure, your personal boat tote and its’ contents stand a good chance of getting wet. I suggest packing a few small waterproof storage pouches to help keep your boating essentials dry. But also, a couple large vinyl zipper pouches or dry bags are great for keeping your wet towel and clothes away from your dry stuff.

Outerwear & Foul Weather Gear

Boat Tote Must Haves - Foul Weather Gear

Being cold and uncomfortable on the water just plain sucks! Not only will you be uncomfortable, but also, that’s just an invitation for hypothermia. On the water, the air temperature can easily be 5, 10 or even 15 degrees cooler than on land. But also, it may be a bit breezy which may make it seem even cooler yet.

A full zip sweatshirt or full zip Fisherman sweater is a must for those brisk mornings leaving the dock and evenings as you head back to port.

You’ll also want to bring a rain jacket with hood that could double as a windbreaker but also, protect your body from getting wet in the rain or wave splashes. Frogg Toggs are an affordable rain gear solution for day sails or whale watch cruises.

I highly suggest getting hi-vis so if you do end up in the drink, the man overboard crew will be able to spot you in the dark colored water.

Swim Suit

Bikini Girl on Boat

Ah yes, ya can’t forget to pack the ole swim suit in your boat tote! Because, you are certainly going to want to get a little vitamin sea while improving your tan onboard the boat. 

However, I suggest considering a more conservative swimsuit; especially if there are going to be children aboard. And of course, you don’t to distract the Captain which may result going off course.

But more importantly, if you plan on going for a swim in salt water wear sharks may be present, you may want to take head the advice of Down to Scuba in their article What Colors Attract Sharks and Why, “sharks are known to see contrast very well. This means that any bright color against a murky background will be highly visible to them. Which may attract them to check out that brightly contrasted object. And since sharks don’t have fingers to prod new and interesting things, they use their teeth. This is where the belief that sharks are attracted to yellow objects comes from!”

To avoid attracting sharks, stick to wearing dark colors, such as solid black or blue. They will not contrast too much underwater; helping you to blend in with the underwater environment. You should also avoid wearing contrasting patterns too. So, consider this while packing your tankini or swim trunks in your boat bag.

Beach Towel

Kids Beach Towels

When you’re heading out to sea for the day, you’re going need to take a big thirsty towel. Because trust me, some time during your day sail, you’re going to get sprayed, splashed or if you go for a swim, snorkel or dive.

I recommend oversized microfiber towels. They roll tightly to fit inside your personal boat tote, are super absorbant and dry in no time. They’re big enough to throw over your shoulders or legs when it gets a little cool or to keep from getting sunburn. And, they’re perfect for wrapping up little ones for that much needed nap on the way back into port.

Sun Protection

Day Sail Boat Tour - Hats and Sunglasses

Protect your skin from damaging UV rays is an absolute must when you’re out on the water. Not only are you getting UV rays from the sun above but also as the sun reflects on the water below. So, sun protection is a must.


Having a good pair of helps prevent damage to your eyes and those pesky wrinkles. But also, constant squinting may give you one heck of a raging headache. Polarized sunglasses with UV protection are the best eye protection on the water because they significantly reduce sun glare off of the water. 

Don’t forget, if you’re traveling with children, they too, need kid’s polarized sunglasses. And, if you’re taking your pup on the cruise, especially service dogs, it would be a good idea for you to pack a pair of doggles in your boat tote as well.


Sunscreen is a no-brainer when you’re outside anyways. But, because the sun’s UV rays are magnified on the water, you’ll need to apply a high SPF rating sunscreen to all exposed skin. And reapply it several times during the course of your cruise.

Personally, I prefer cruelty-free and vegan friendly CyberDERM because it’s free of parabens, sulfates, and fragrances. And, it contains Zinc Oxide which is actually a natural anti-inflammatory. So, no worrying about skin flareups after applying to your skin.

That said, if you will be going into the water on a salt water swim, snorkel or dive, make certain you use a reef safe sunscreen.

Day Sail Pro Tip: It’s best to remove all sunscreen and insect repellents from your skin prior to entering salt water reef areas using Venture Wipes.

Sun Hat

If you’ve not noticed, boaters have taken sun protection very seriously though the past decades. You’ll notice yachting sailors wearing head protection of all kinds.

While sure, baseball type caps shield your face, they don’t protect your ears and the back of your neck. Which is reason why I recommend wearing or packing a light-colored, wide-brimmed Tilley hat in your boat bag. Not only do they protect your head from the sun but also shade your head and eyes from those UV rays. And, of course, a Tilley hat will keep you a bit cooler as well.

Insect Protection

Insect Repellent

Packing insect repellent in your cruise bag or boat tote is smart because some places you’ll be cruising may be buggy. Especially for those sunset cruises where you will be returning precisely when the mosquitos are out.

However, before stocking your cruise bag with just any insect repellent, you may want to know the difference between insect repellent ingredients.

Day Sail Pro Tip:  Even boating can expose you to those pesky mosquitos or biting flies, so before heading out on the boat, check out these DEET-FREE Bug Spray Recommended for Families.

Toiletries & Personal Hygiene

Since you’re going to be boating most of the day, it would be wise to pack a few important toiletry items in your personal boat tote to get you through the day. Just pack them in a small zipper pouch so you know exactly where everything is.

Day Sail Pro Tip: Oral OTC meds may cause drowsiness, so if you’re operating the boat, stick to the bands and patches. I recommend taking oral OTC seasick meds the day before and the morning of of your day sail or cruise to get your body acclimated.

Water Bottle & Snacks

Water Bottle

If you know your Captain or cruise director may bring a big water jug on board, it’s a good idea to bring your own water bottle. We actually prefer our Brita water filter bottles as we don’t know the source of where that water may have come from. But, if you don’t care, a regular  water bottle will do just fine. 

We also pack a small zipper pouch full of individual size healthy snacks in our personal boat tote:

Day Sail Pro Tip: You may want to take a few electrolyte packets to add to your water or juice to help keep you from getting dehydrated.

Cellphone Protective Case

Waterproof Cellphone Case

You’ll want to protect your million dollar cellphone with a waterproof, floating cellphone case. Because as we say all the time, “if it can happen, it will”. One roll from a wave or jolt of the engine throttle could throw your cellphone over the side of the boat.

If you’re going on an all-day cruise, you’ll want to take a fully-charged backup battery charger for your cellphone. Personally, I like the solar charger power bank that I can leave in the sun. Oh and don’t forget to pack your universal charging cord in your personal boat tote too. 

Day Sail Pro Tip:  You’re going to want to take lots of pictures during your romantic harbor cruise or offshore fishing expedition! Here’s some great Smartphone Photography Tips!

Snorkel Gear

Snorkel Gear

If you’re going on that amazing Key West sunset snorkel cruise (we did…twice!) or going to snorkel with the manatees, you’ll need your own snorkel gear and waterproof mesh bag.

While yes, snorkel cruise charter boat companies usually supply snorkel gear, you may prefer to use your own. That way you know it’s cleaned properly and those germs on your gear are only yours. As well, you know your gear fits you properly.

As mentioned earlier under the swim suit section, do head the advice of selecting snorkel and scuba gear that is darker colors as to not attract sharks.

Personal Boat Tote Exclusives

There are a few items that may be of interest to you on your boating adventure that aren’t absolutely necessary but nice to take along in your personal boat tote or cruise bag.

Wrapping up our day sail personal boat tote essentials

Boat Tote Supplies - Boating

1-day cruises and day sails are loads of fun! But if you’re not prepared with the right things to take on your boat tour, it surely can take the wind out of your sails. So, our best advice is to go prepared for your day on the high seas. Your personal boat tote will be an extension of your temporary home away from home.

Always On Liberty - Day Sail Personal Boat Tote-2

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