Comparing and contrasting similar items is an excellent exercise. “Do you think you can bring your fluffiest blanket?,” I’ve asked, and explained how an army blanket is a better option because it’s big enough to cover my entire body, it’s warm, light, and can dry quickly. Just like how a crew member is more valuable if she can offer more than one skill or kuleana on the waʻa, it’s better to take things that are multi-functional.
Bag vs. Waterproof Bag: This is extremely important because if your bag isn’t waterproof and gets wet, that means everything in your bag is also going to be wet.
Towel vs. Squeegee or Microfiber Towel: If you use a regular bath towel, it might not dry until you get back on land. “You know those towels some people use to dry the car after they wash it? That’s my towel.” I use a new one that’s never been used on a car; it’s absorbs water well, it’s light and can dry easily. You will be able to tell which kids know how to wash cars.
Flashlight vs. Headlamp: You don’t want to use your hand to hold a flashlight while you’re working at night, so having a headlamp frees both hands to do whatever work you need to do. Some headlamps require you to go through five different light settings before turning off. It makes a difference to have a headlamp that only has three options: white light, red light (to use at night), and off.
Hat and a Beanie: A hat is used for sun protection, but it also protects your hair from being salty and dry. When you have to be up for your watch from 10pm to 2am, having a beanie will keep your head and body warm. Having both is a good idea.
Pillow: Having your fluffiest pillow wouldn’t be a good idea either. My pillow is a soft bag that I stuff pareu/lavalava into with some clothes because a regular pillow will just take up too much space. I even tell kids that a dry bag that’s full can also function as a pillow too. Another way to keep the kids’ interest is to talk about what might be missing from the physical pile of gear in front of them, secrets I’ve learned from the seasoned deep sea voyagers that work like a charm: baby wipes, baby powder, and kukui nut oil.
Other items to consider bringing
Baby Wipes: When the sea is too rough and the temperature is too cold, baby wipes are used to wipe all the salt off from being on the water for the day. Showering with salt water or getting a fresh water shower from a storm is usually the preferred method, but baby wipes will suffice until you get a chance to really bathe.
Baby Powder: Bonnie Kahapeʻa told me once, if you “rub baby powder on your feet and put your socks on right before you go to sleep,” that’s the best. I tried it when I went on my first week long voyage with Hālau Kū Māna public charter school on Makani ʻOlu. The smell alone was refreshing and it feels good to sleep when your feet are clean. Baby powder can also be used in areas that are being chaffed and can help make your body feel dry.
Kukui Nut Oil:I learned this trick from Kahapeʻa too! This is an item that I personally always want in my bag because I like when my hair is clean. Some people bring stay-in conditioner, but I might as well use a natural product that can be made in Hawaiʻi. The dock that fronts Kānehūnāmoku has a tree growing on its farm, which can be pointed to. If you brush some kukui oil in your hair, it helps keep it untangled without getting too oily and it smells great! Some say that coconut oil works too, but I haven’t tried it yet. We usually save a little time to have kids ask any other questions they may have based on what was discussed. I like to think that if they ask questions or comment on the photos we show, it’s a sign that they’re interested, the hook to the unit.