They say that life at sea is like living in a prison, but you don't have to live like an inmate.
A sailor's life at sea means not stepping on land for long periods of time. Sailors have to live with the items they board the ship with until they get a care package or make their first port visit. They can also visit the ship's store, but those items aren't the kinds of things that can improve quality of life, necessarily.
Here are a few things that can, however:
1. Zip Ties
The bulkheads – Navy speak for ship walls – have exposed beams, pipes, and wiring. Zip ties come in handy for attaching items to the pipes and beams while also helping to organize the wiring of electronic devices.
Use Velcro tape for sticking items to smooth surfaces. Attach velcro tape to the back of your iPad and the ceiling of your coffin rack for movies in bed. You can also use velcro for your wireless alert chime when skating.
3. Power strip
The ship provides power strips, but you can't claim ownership. Having one handy will save you the frustration of having to barter for one. Just don't forget to safety tag it, since electronics that are not safety tagged are grounds for confiscation.
4. Wireless hard drive
The ship has great movies, but options are limited. Bring a wireless hard drive filled with movies to stream to your mobile device for days when "Top Gun," "Master and Commander," and "An Officer And A Gentleman" are the only things playing.
5. Pen springs
It could be a long time before hitting port, so use a pen spring to protect your charger cables from crimping. Coffin lockers are notorious for ruining perfectly good cables. I recommend a Neiko Steel kit for their size selection.
6. Laundry wash bags
Skivvies and socks go missing in the ship's laundry all the time. Use a medium size wash bag with your name written on it to ensure return. Don't exceed more than two pairs of skivvies and two pairs of socks per bag to get a good wash.
7. Baby wipes
8. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco
Even if you don't smoke or dip, take a couple of cartons of cigarettes and chewing tobacco to use as bartering chips. You'd be amazed at what people are willing to give up for a tobacco fix.
9. Packs of energy shots
Whether you're a snipe or an airedale, it's important to stay alert, and it could mean the difference between life or death. Pack some energy shots for backup. We recommend RuckPack because they give you the extra boost without the jitters.
10. Packs of dry noodles
The galley is only open during specified hours, but work doesn't just stop. Pack a box of dry noodles to prevent from going hungry when your schedule doesn't align with the galley's hours.
11. Hot water dispenser
You can't eat those dry noodles without hot water. Hot water dispensers are especially handy for airedales whose break time is determined by the flight schedule.
Sailors live in close quarters to other shipmates. With racks (Navy bunks) stacked three high in berthings that can have 80 or more people, they have to endure each other's funk. Take some Febreze to help you tame the smells.
13. Foot locker storage bin
Personal space on a ship is limited to your coffin rack and a stand-up locker. However, if you have a good relationship with your LPO and shop mates, you can probably take a foot locker that you can store in the shop. These are great for storing your bartering items and port souvenirs.
Would you add anything to this list? Add it in the comments.