Race Sailing Around The World: Henry Bomby's Kit Bag
With limits on how much weight can be taken aboard, balanced with the practical needs of protecting themselves against the ever-changing elements, sailors have to seriously consider their kit bag. A number of the VOR legs race across climate zones: leg six from Hong Kong to Auckland being one of them. So how do you pack for this? Henry Bomby, Turn the Tide on Plastic, explains.
How much does your kit bag weigh for this leg?
My kit bag weighs 10.8kg - we are allowed up to 11kg in our kit bag under the Volvo rule. For almost all the legs, it is best to go to the max for numerous reasons. One, you can take more kit and have less chance of running out if you trash some! But two, on most legs you want as much righting moment as possible, and the bunks are a very good place to stack stuff. So considering our kit bags are the only things we are allowed to stack in our bunks other than ourselves, you want to be as close to the upper limit as possible. Or at least it is no disadvantage not to be…
What is the hardest part about preparing your kitbag for crossing climate zones?
For me, I think the hardest thing is packing enough of each piece of kit that if you destroy something, i.e. it gets soaked in saltwater when called on deck quickly, you still have enough spares you can wear until you can dry that kit out, without just being ridiculous and taking a stupid amount with you.
What is in your kit bag? Why have you chosen each item?
- Three light merino thermals, top and bottom. These are great: if you get them wet, they dry quickly, they are comfy enough you can wear them for a week without realising, and they don't smell.
- Three merino boxers. Merino again - it’s the best material, and the only thing to wear around your crown jewels!
- A tech Quick Dry Performance Top, for the start and finish! Also good as a spare if you run out of merino thermal tops at any point
- Two boardies, for lighter, tropical conditions. Thick socks to wear with boots if you need them to keep your feet warm. These are also good as bed socks
- Waterproof socks to keep your feet dry in trainers or dry in your boots, if you have destroyed your boots!
- Mid-layer salopettes for colder night watches at the start and end of the leg
- Mid-layer fleece - good to layer up with anytime it's cold. It’s also great if dry on deck as it's sometimes nice to just wear a fleece rather than a waterproof jacket all the time
- Sudocrem - great for fixing tropical rashes! And therefore best to have your own pot...
- A pair of sunglasses
- A head torch
- A sunhat
- A merino buff or neck sock - keeps the neck warm when cold and the sun off when hot
- A Casio Illuminator watch. This is low profile and so easy to get your wet weather gear seals on and off over it, and good for keeping track of the watch schedule! The Illuminator model is slightly chunkier and four times more expensive than the standard F-91W model, but the improved light makes it a worthy upgrade...
Does your kit bag vary much from leg to leg? If so, how?
It does vary a bit yes. You wouldn't take any of the above out, but you would add in additional thick fleece thermal tops and bottoms for the colder legs that go into the Southern Ocean, as well as neoprene balaclavas, gloves, hats etc.
What is your most valued possession in your kitbag?
Musto waterproof socks! I don't really like wearing boots: they’re cumbersome. Waterproof socks allow me to wear trainers for longer.
How do you care for these items while on board?
The small kit bag you leave the dock with is everything you have for 3 weeks. You look after it all so well, doing everything you can to keep your kit dry. You know life will be a lot more miserable for you, if you don't! For the longer legs like this one and Leg 2, I break my kit bag up into three different week dry bags inside my kit bag, as the climate is quite different in each week. Week two of both Leg 2, 4 and 6 are in the tropics, crossing the doldrums and the equator, so you don't need thermals, warm hats, gloves, balaclavas etc. But you do in week 1 and 3, potentially. It helps to be organised so when you're rummaging through your kit bag in the middle of the night trying to find your neoprene gloves or balaclava, you know where to look! And having your kit in dry bags means that if anything wet gets in your kit bag, your unworn kit stays dry and fresh. After you start changing out of your kit you can then use your week 1 bag to put all your wet smelly kit in, so it stays as stackable weight.