Sailing Activities and Pastimes

What are your favourite sailing activities and pastimes while on watch and off watch during long passages?

Here are some ideas...

  • What is a Pastime? ... Something that you do to help enjoyably pass the time.
  • What is a Hobby? ... It’s defined in the dictionary as a pursuit outside your work or career that is done for relaxation.

Have you ever been asked ... “What do you do all those days at sea in a confined space?” Have you ever wondered yourself ... ever got bored? There’s no need!

These are some of the sailing activities I enjoy and fellow sailors I know do on long passages to either pass the time or as a hobby.

Some things can be divided into things to do when you are on watch or off watch. And if on watch you are limited again by time ... night and day sailing activities. 

On watch sailing activities and pastimes:

  • Reading ... books, magazines ... learning about the next destination.
  • Painting and drawing for fun or to sell at markets ... daytime watch.
  • Fishing ... catch one or two and you’ll be cooking them off watch.
  • Crosswords and jigsaws, keeping the mind occupied.
  • Crafts like knitting and crochet, squares are good they are quick and great for throw rugs.  
  • Make shell necklaces and earrings with coral and shells you’ve collected.  These can even be sold at markets at some of your destinations or given as presents.
  • Listen to music with head phones on so as not to disturb others sleeping.

And this is a good time while the men are taking a nap to do the girly things while keeping an eye on the horizon.  Give yourself a pedicure and manicure and paint your nails. Add this to your regular list of sailing activities.

And the most important thing sailing, navigating and keeping a good watch doing a 360 visual check at very regular intervals. One female sailor said when reading she does a ‘360’ every 2 pages. 

Off Watch Activities:

By day photos! I have far too many sunsets, sunrises and waves on the bow!


  • Cleaning and tidying the boat, on deck and below.
  • Preparing meals, maybe the fish you caught.
  • No fish? Then back to fishing.
  • Sleep … napping … resting.
  • Yes and out with the camera, more photos
  • Watch a DVD or Video… listen to music, practise yoga
  • Trimming sails, checking all equipment.
  • And any of the on watch activities.

Other ideas for activities and pastimes:

  • A sailing activity that was a whole lot of fun on a Regatta from New Zealand to the Pacific Islands was for each boat to write a fiction story.  With a twist ... We had to use every one of the names of the yachts involved, around 30, and it was judged at our destination. Hilarious … I was on ‘Wondering Willie,’ other names I recall were ‘Tequila’, ‘Sanity’, and ‘Hard On,’ so you can imagine.Try it when sailing in a flotilla, or group of friends ... great input and gut busting laughs all round! 

  • Write a journal as another activity for yourself or for family and friends back home. This can be a serious travel story of destinations and day to day life on board. I found on one voyage the day to day part was just the same thing day in day out.  So in the middle of my journal I crossed over to a totally fictitious day. All the absolutely silly questions I got asked by none sailors I incorporated into a day of drama.  Like dropping anchor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for an overnight stop. The anchor dragging and hitting a whale over the head, in anger it ramming our boat knocking the skipper over board and the dramatic rescue and resuscitation ... Then back to the real thing.  It was funny watching people’s reactions ... some even half believing at first!
  • Playing an instrument, or learning too ... guitar is always popular, and if you sing an entertainment for all aboard. But bongo drums and other small instruments suit the life aboard too. Good for a sing-along! Off shore Karaoke!
  • If you are in areas where local produce can be bought cheap in bulk ... like for instance mangos ... Why not make bottled mango chutney, for your own use and to give as gifts or sell at markets. 

Activities and Hobbies that can make money:

If you are looking for ways to keep the cruising kitty full and earn money as you sail then look at some of these sailing activities you can do!

That's me at the Airlie Beach markets in Queensland, Australia selling my book Dare to Dream! 

  • If you can get internet access why not make a blog or web site on your travels for the pleasure of family and friends back home.  If you add some Google AdSense, affiliate links and other monetizing sources ... it’s an easy way to make money too!
SBI!
  • Internet access … the door has just opened to an enormous amount of activities, learning, movies, eBooks you can write and read, and EBay and other ways to make money while sailing. 
  • Write about your travel experiences and destinations for sailing magazines, the money’s not great but certainly worth the effort and pleasure of seeing your story in print. Write a book like my Dare to Dream, great seller at the markets.  Magazines are always looking for new stories from freelance writers.
  • Jewellery making is a fun sailing activity that can bring you in an income selling your creations at local markets along the way.  Some friends of mine sell some amazing creations, necklaces and earrings made of shells, beads and coral pieces.
  • The same couple that makes the jewellery, the husband also makes didgeridoos, an Australian Aboriginal instrument to sell at the markets too.  But what about making bongo drums, or wind chimes, Indian Dream Catchers’ ... or anything else that can be made from simple materials aboard a boat.
  • If you are clever at wood work or wood carving, painting, Macramé and other handcrafts consider doing these on board to sell at local markets along the way and make your self some good pocket money. 

Yes ... there are the simple pleasures of sailing, watching the waves and possibly sea creatures and birds. Admiring the sunsets and sunrises, and gazing and identifying the myriads of stars.

But when you have the need for more stimulation or are feeling a little bored make sure you have thought ahead and are equipped to partake of other sailing activities and pastimes or hobby that gives you pleasure and maybe the bonus of some extra cash.

There are so many sailing activities when you are cruising! 


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