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What to Expect on Your Voyage

Life at sea is very different to life ashore. 

MST vessels normally sail with two 'Sea Staff': a Skipper and a Mate. The Skipper is in charge of the vessel, crew and is responsible for everyone staying safe and having fun. To be an MST skipper you have to be an extremely experienced and qualified sailor with exceptional skills. 

When you join the boat, you will be assigned your own single bunk within a cabin or sleeping area containing up to four other people. We try and assign cabins based on age and gender, but please be aware this is not always possible. Within the cabin you will have a number of storage lockers in which to unpack your personal kit.


The crew are normally split into teams called watches. The watch system allows the domestic duties such as cooking to be evenly shared and is also used if the boat is sailing overnight to ensure everyone gets some sleep!

For your voyage we will provide you with a sailing waterproof jacket and trousers, also known as ‘oilskins’. We will also provide you with a lifejacket and safety harness. Before the boat leaves the berth on the first day, there will be a full safety briefing on how to use the equipment onboard, and what to do in an emergency.


There will be access to showers in most marinas we visit. Likewise, the mains electric sockets don’t work when we are sailing, so if you wish to bring your phone or other electronic equipment please be aware you may not be able to keep it charged all the time.


Every voyage is different, but you can generally expect to spend some nights tied up in a marina with access to the shore, some nights anchored, and some nights sailing. It’s not all sailing, and there will normally be the chance to explore some of the towns or places we sail to, as well as do other activities such as using the boat’s small inflatable boat, or swimming if the conditions are right. The itinerary for each voyage is dependant on the weather, and the Skipper’s primary objective is always the safety of the vessel and everyone aboard. 

EASTERN STAR 18 May 2021 E Solent BVH 04
ASTO Cowes Small Ships race 2019 0468 cr


Top Tips

  • Space is very limited on board the boat, so bringing too many changes of clothes isn’t necessary. Please bring your kit in a soft kitbag or holdall that can be packed down small, not a suitcase or bag with a metal frame. We recommend also bringing some carrier bags or small drybags to organise your kit within your locker, and to keep dry and wet kit separate.  

  • Wear lots of layers, and clothes that will dry easily such as microfibre fleeces. We don't recommend jeans.

  • You may bring your mobile phone if you like, it should only be used when you are off-watch, and never on deck. The Sea Staff reserve the right to confiscate phones that are proving a distraction for reasons of safety. Boats can get very damp (even inside), and we are not liable for loss or damage to phones or any personal equipment. 

  • Your feet may well get wet on board, so bring a second pair of shoes that you can get wet in. Wellies are great but try to avoid anything with a pronounced heel. Rubber sailing boots with a flat, non-slip sole can be bought online for around £20-50. Please don’t bring walking boots, shoes with marking soles, or wellies with mud on the bottom!

  • Please bring your passport, EHIC and any travel documents such as visas that you require. On 'Youth Sailing Adventure' voyages and the longer summer holiday voyages we always hope to be able to France or the Channel Islands if the weather is right, and everyone onboard will need a passport for this. If you don't have a passport, don't worry - there's still plenty of great sailing on the English coast! 

  • Many people feel queasy during the first few days, so we recommend you bring some over-the-counter motion sickness tablets, such as Stugeron or Kwells.

  • An insulated travel mug can be a good idea for voyages in colder weather. Make sure it has a lid that is completely watertight even when tipped upside down. 

What you need to bring:​

  • Sleeping bag and pillow case. We provide pillows, but you can bring your own if you wish.

  • Clothes - there is limited space so we recommend a change of clothes for every 2/3 days you're on board, with a fresh shirt/t-shirt for every day.

  • Underwear - you'll need a fresh set of underwear and socks for each day onboard.

  • Soft-soled non-marking trainers or plimsolls.

  • Waterproof boots (wellies are fine)

  • Windproof/waterproof jacket to wear ashore or when it’s too warm for your oilskins (sailing waterproofs).

  • Warm hat and gloves

  • Towel and Wash kit – as much or as little as you want (within reason)!

  • Sun cream, sunglasses, sunhat with a brim.

  • Swimming kit – please note we don’t go swimming on every voyage

  • Book, cards or something to do when you are off-watch.

  • Spare glasses if needed

  • Sufficient prescription medication to last the full duration of your voyage - don't forget to bring the prescription script. 

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