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Things that make it more comfie

For those of you who charter — if you are anything like we were — you don’t bring much to the boat with you. And, given you aren’t likely to be aboard much beyond 2 weeks, that makes a lot of sense.  But when I was  doing my Turnkey Sailboat inventory, I came across a long list of things that we’ve have added to the boat now that we cruise in longer stints. These days we have a storage unit that has five big blue bins full of stuff that we haul on and off the boat, and most of it goes to making our boat a home again.

We’ve got enough stuff in storage that we keep an inventoried spreadsheet of it all.

Some of it is just things like our own linens, pillows etc. But there  are also the items, big and small, that we’ve discovered help make our shipboard lifestyle familiar and comfortable. So here’s a quick summary of what we add to make our “charter” boat a comfy home for us when we are aboard.

Things that came with the boat

These are a few things we didn’t buy but are oh-so glad to have. We are eternally grateful to the PO for providing them..

  • Rubber base floor mats: There are two of these. They are the ones with foam in them so they a) are comfortable to stand on, b) are insulated and keep our toes warm, and c) are nonskid so add a lot of traction. Easy to clean too — we love them. And they are only thing in this list that stays on board full time.
  • Fleece sheets: I can’t rave about these enough. Not flannel…fleece! When we are off-season cruising these things are so warm that it’s like someone has already heated up the bed for you. The only downside is if you wear pyjamas or nightgowns, you might be strangled by your own garments.

Things we added to the boat

These are all things we added to our boat after we purchased her. Some came aboard right away and others were slowly added based on our experiences. They are in no particular order and most of them aren’t especially earth-shattering game-changers. But there’s only one or two of these things I wouldn’t immediately replace if it was to lost or broken and that is only because we aren’t full time cruisers any more.

  • Cast iron pot: I bake  a lot of bread — no-knead boule to be exact. We picked up a cheap camping cast-iron dutch oven that is the perfect size for the boat.
  • Extra frying pan: I don’t know where I developed the habit, but I am a a two-frying pan guy. Especially when making pizza crusts.

  • Heat diffuser: We picked this doohickey up at a specialty shop in Victoria, thinking it would be good for making toast. It wasn’t. But The Boat Galley taught us it does a crackerjack job of diffusing the flames so simmering is way easier.
  • Solar showers (2): Moderately useful in the off-season (we use a kettle to heat the water when there’s no sun), in summer they make long stays at anchor a lot more enjoyable. And with a hatch above our shower they are convenient to use as well.

  • Folding boat seat: I love mine. Leslie doesn’t use it as much, but my back really likes the idea of regular angles in the otherwise curved confines in our cockpit.
  • Laundry bags: Such a simple idea. Ours are like big cotton sea-bags with a drawstrings that are big enough to put at least some of the folded laundry back into. I have my eye out for some that I will be able to pack all the folded stuff back into.

  • TV table: We decided pretty early on that since we were only two, that we would keep the salon table down in “bed mode” and use it as a lounging area  with pillows and blankets. So we have a medium-sized tv table we take out to eat on. It’s cozy, easy to stow, and saves us raising and lowering the main table.

  • Best Anchorages : Better known as Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage: British Columbia’s South Coast From the Gulf Island to Beyond Cape Caution, 2nd Ed: a great, great, great book for anchoring in the PNW and our go-to guide for deciding on new anchorages.
  • Popcorn popper: The manual kind with a crank you turn. I suppose we could just use a regular pot but we like popcorn and this does it just right. Besides we use it as a big pot to make rice crispy squares…how’s that for justification?
  • Kellet: Our friends gifted us with a kellet as boat-warming present — it is essentially a weight you add to your anchor rode to help keep it lying on the bottom. I have read a lot about them and there are some naysayers about their usefulness. But when we have a lot of rode out (and are off the chain portion) in moderate conditions, the extra weight is comforting and that’s worth something to us.
  • Mini Staub Cassarole: I brought this from home and left it for the boat. It is the perfect size for two, cleans easily and works awesome in the gas oven. And there is nothing like a baked pasta casserole to warm you up after a long day of sailing.

  • Inflatable life jackets: We have a rule and wear life jackets whenever underway. For all their failings, at least using inflatables ensures we do wear them 99% of the time.
  • LED desklight: Our aft cabin has at least six lights in it, none of which are easily accessible when you are actually lying down and reading in bed. So we picked up this cool LED light that runs off both 120v and batteries. It’s perfect!

  • Humidity meter/ thermometer: This little doodad is the ultimate authority on whether we are going to fire up the heater or not. And when we were full time liveaboards it let us know when it was time to open some hatches and get some circulation going…
  • Spinning clothes dryer: You know those ugly, plastic, clothes-hanger things? Well we had this spinning one for years that we never used and wondered what it was really useful for. Turns out it is the perfect size shape in a boat for drying things that can’t go in the dryer. Ours has a clamp rather than a hook so we can hang it in the doorway.
  • Shower squeegee: We shower aboard a lot. And a quick squeegee afterwards ensures they head is clean and dry for the next user. Bonus: it acts as a backup in case the cockpit squeegee for wiping the dodger goes missing!
  • Foil bbq trays: We discovered these late but they are a god send. I love BBQ chicken thighs but the amount of grease and fat that they leave all over my transom is a huge pain. With these foil trays I can do a quick sear on the grill to crust up the skin and then let them roast in the pan for 20 minutes without having to spend an hour cleaning up the next day.
  • Non-slip shelf liner: We lined all of our shelves with this stuff and have a bunch of spare pieces for various uses. It might not be as big a game changer as, well, a catamaran, but at least we can leave things like cameras and binoculars out and be pretty sure they won’t go flying when we heel.
  • Glass candle holders: Last, and probably least, we have a bunch of glass candle holders. If we are cruising when the days are short and the nights are long, we like to have a lot of candles going for light, a bit of extra heat and to save batteries. We find the glass votives handy for holding the candles safely and also to double as  containers for knickknacks, spare change and pens.

Open to Suggestions?

That’s our list, eclectic as it is. I am always looking for the next greatest thing so I spend a lot of time online analyzing other people’s systems — I have found quite a few useful little items that other people consider “necessities” that way. It’s great to see what matters to different people and to find new things to add to the wish list. It is amazing how the smallest things can make such a big difference and equally amazing how we come up with ways to make boating life just that little more homey.

 
—Bruce #Equipment

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Check out my article (& cover shot) in this month’s @pacific_yachting W00t! Sailing season is almost here!
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Twitter Digest

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Cover Story

I’ve made the cover of a national magazine… both cover story and the cover image are from our spring cruise last year. My first national sale. Should be out in the next week or so…

Twitter Digest

A Turnkey Sailboat

When we bought Never for Ever we had one major requirement: we wanted a turnkey boat — something we could board and sail away for most of year without having to worry about anything major. But it occurs to me now, so many years later, that at the time I had no idea what a “turnkey” boat was. Or what a good deal we actually got. And, it occurs to me after writing the first draft of this post, I never realized just how much we got — so apologies for the length of the post.

In the boat shopping phase I had compiled a list of “wishlist” items that I wanted with the boat. Not so oddly given my inexperience, many of those wishes are still unfulfilled and, as I mentioned in a recent post, priorities change and now I am not so sure just how much I am now willing to invest to acquire them. Check the end of this post if you want to see a selection of some of the more ridiculous ones. But my original wishlist notwithstanding, our intention when we purchased Never for Ever was to cast off and head north, at least to the Broughton’s and further if we were feeling adventurous. We wanted to be able to cruise with no home port for up to 6 months and not have to worry.

And that’s what we got.

I’ve watched a lot of Youtube videos in the last couple of years of people buying their first boats and you know, I have been surprised by the kinds of things boats can come without. And by the kind of work that has to go into some of them — even if they weren’t project boats. Before we bought, and over the years since, I have regularly checked in at YachtWorld and tracked prices, models and ages of sailboats for sale in the PNW. My parameters always change but essentially I look at 36-40 foot boats under $120,000 CDN. But I also keep an eye on boats under $50,000 to see what there is in classic boats that an extra $30,000 of refit would make cruise-worthy. This seems to be more of what the current crop of younger YouTube sailors are doing and their equipment lists vary significantly.

But what we bought was a $120,000 boat that was ready to go. And I want to do a summary of what was on Never for Ever when we got her and maybe rate items on a scale of frivolous to necessary.

Must have’s

There weren’t many items on this list.

  • Reliable engine. We bought an ex-charter boat with 2000+ hours on the Yanmar. I had the opportunity to talk to the original owner and was convinced that it had been maintained and my reading led me to believe a marine diesel is good for up to 5000 hours. And so far it has proven to be true. I am not so worried about engine hours anymore.
  • Solid rigging and sails: turnkey meant we could trust our gear while we were “learning the ropes.” We did spend a bit of money post-purchase on this but we were building on a solid foundation.
  • Canvas. I new I wanted at least a dodger (can you buy a boat in the PNW without one?) and a bimini. One 2 week spring charter to the rainy Broughtons without one was enough to convince me. And as we were staying aboard over the winter, a full enclosure was high on the list. And that’s what we got. I definitely think this was the plus I thought it was going to be. I spend a lot of time in the cockpit and we sail a lot in the shoulder seasons. Just the side panels cutting the cold wind paid for itself many times over.
  • Windlass. Actually I had no idea that so many boats were sold without a windlass or with manual ones. But given our two handed crew system, I definitely think it is an addition well worth having.

These side panels turned out to be our favourite bit of canvas.

Wanted

Some things I knew I wanted:

  • Chain rode: 110 feet (120 feet now) of chain and another 300 feet of rope rode have made a lot of our anchorages comfortable and worry-fre.
  • Outboard (and RIB): we got a nice 8 hp Yamaha that is just enough to get the two of us and our gear up on plane in our West Marine RIB. While I think we could do without the planing, it has made some of our explorations a lot more feasible. Now we occasionally get frustrated when there is a third person and can’t get up on plane. And the RIB? I would never get a non-rigid bottom—I have put enough holes in the pontoons as it is.
  • Webasto hydronic heater: I love it. But would I fork out the $$ to buy such a cantankerous piece of equipment? I don’t know. There are a lot of other heating options that might make more economic sense.
  • Robust autopilot: we got a tough chain driven autopilot and I love it. We have cruised without an autopilot and long days get much longer if you are always at the wheel (especially without an enclosure). And I have seen enough flimsier autopilots to make me appreciate how robust ours is.
  • A good house bank: we have 450 amp/hours of batteries. I knew we wanted to avoid the expense of marinas as much as possible. Our bank gives us 4 days at anchor without having to fire up the engine. These days I think this really is more of a “must have” than a “wanted.”
  • Midship cleats: such a small thing. But we have chartered boats with just the two of us and that middle cleat makes docking in difficult circumstances so much easier. Something I would immediately add to any boat.
  • RAM mic: a remote, helm-mounted mic for the VHS really is a necessity if you are cruising busy waters. The ability to communicate with other traffic, contacting crowded marinas or even listening to the Coast Guard from the cockpit just makes cruising a whole lot safer in my opinion.

I really appreciate having the remote VHF mic.

This is our new chain. But we got 3 years out of the old one.

The outboard and the handy Forespar crane.

Wanted Now

And there were some things Never for Ever came with that I hadn’t realized I wanted. I have subsequently seen a ton of boats that were sold without these “necessities” but they are things I personally would add almost immediately.

  • Charger/inverter: she came with a Magnum with a remote screen — I love this thing. A 2300 watt inverter (that we rarely use but is nice to have) combined with high tech charging system for maintaining our batteries. We later added the BMK (Battery Monitor Kit) and it has made life on anchor so much less stressful.
  • Cockpit cushions: I didn’t realize how much time I would spend in the cockpit and how quickly these would become a necessity.
  • Closed cell foam: (in the the above cushions) it means we can leave them out and have a reasonable expectation they will be dry without having to have them dry in the sun for hours.
  • High density foam mattress topper: our aft cabin was one of the reasons we chose the Hunter and the 3 inch memory foam topper was icing on the cake. It’s certainly something I would look into adding to any boat I was spending a lot of time on.
  • Radar: I know, I know, but who would have thought there was so much fog on the West Coast? <head smack>
  • Racor: it never occurred to me boats would be sold without a secondary fuel filter. Seeing the problems some of our boating buddies had fuel-wise I wouldn’t leave the dock without one.
  • Screens for all hatches: well maybe all was an unnecessary bonus, but having some opening ports with screens really is a necessity.
  • LED lights: Never for Ever came with 4, at least one in each space except the aft cabin and we quickly remedied that. Incandescents are a huge power hog and, despite the price of LEDs, if you are spending any time on anchor, they are worth the cost.
  • Rail mounted bbq: I didn’t realize this was a necessity but it really, really is.

Seems it can get foggy here sometimes 🙂

We have a battery monitor now!

The bbq gets used more than the stove.

Bonuses

And here a few things, big and small, that we got on Never for Ever that have made life a lot easier, but I don’t think I would include them as “must haves” when boat shopping or outfitting.

  • AIS receiver: when I finally got the Standard Horizon VHS hooked up to the chartplotter, it was great to be able to track AIS targets…just added a level of safety.
  • Handheld vhf: the boat came with one and it sure is handy when we are off exploring in the dinghy.
  • Campbell Sailor 3 blade prop: I am not experienced enough to  know just how much benefit we get from this, but I will say the boat backs well and the prop gets lots of good reviews online.
  • Autopilot remote: until it stopped functioning one day I never realized how much we used it. It’s nice to be able to huddle under the dodger and still be able to dodge logs etc.
  • Boat manual: as an ex-charter boat she came with a manual that listed all the common systems and instructions for use. Not a necessity in any way, bit it helped us get up to speed quickly in those first few weeks.
  • Forespar Outboard Crane: almost a necessity with the 8hp motor and it makes it really convenient for the two of us to get the engine on and off the dinghy.
  • Backup Fortress anchor kit: we’ve never used it but this little kit with anchor, rode and convenient carrying bag is a nice addition to our tackle.
  • 5 fenders, extra docking lines: who knew how much this stuff costs? You can always use them and it’s nice they came with the boat.
  • Brass barometer: we love to track the changes and see how they relate to the actual weather.
  • 4 speakers: what can I say, we like music.
  • 2 sets of drinking-safe hoses: self explanatory and great to have at some marinas where hose bibs are few and far between.
  • 4 life jackets: spares we don’t use but makes having guests easier.
  • 200′ of stern line: in the PNW? Without one you are limiting your anchorage choices.

Our shiny prop.

I was so happy the day I got the remote working again.

When it’s busy, you end up stern-tying a lot.

Hunter 386 Brochure

I dug up the original sales material for the 2003 Hunter 386. Here are a few of the “optional items” that Never for Ever came with from the factory:

  • Aluminum Boom Vang: I am not sure what the standard option would have been?
  • Electric Anchor Windlass: see above
  • Inmast furling: I’ve not seen a 386 without this option, but maybe they did make a few.
  • Inner-Spring Mattress: this is a not option.
  • Refrigerator/Freezer (as opposed to an icebox)

A Great Deal

So, quite the list eh? I really didn’t realize how well equipped a boat we got until I started working on this list. I have not seen a lot of boats for sale that didn’t include at least a few of the above, but I have seen an awful lot that that didn’t weren’t equipped with most.

Comfy and dry and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

Not Wanted on This Voyage

I will finish off with some of the things that were on my original boat-hunting checklist that didn’t make the cut. I am not saying that I wouldn’t want (or need) them if we were cruising in different waters  but for now they have become extravagances I mistakenly  thought I would need.

  • Fitted sheets (And we didn’t even sleep in the v-berth!)
  • Hammock (Really? This was on my wishlist?)
  • Watermaker (In the Salish Sea? Because freshwater is so  scarce?)
  • Drinking water filtration system (see above)
  • Generator (Still dreaming, but such a luxury)
  • Solar panels (Still, still dreaming… I think…)
  • 100 amp alternator (Sell, not the worst idea but oh, the expense.)
  • Wifi booster (because I wanted to stay connected? Sheesh.)
  • Davits (I think I was in a lazy phase)
  • Code zero (Sail envy is a thing!)
  • Fender socks (Because they look tidier?)
  • AIS transponder (Oooh, an electronic toy!)
  • Folding wheel (What was I thinking? Oh right, that crowded cockpit on the Bavaria 33 we chartered…)

—Bruce #Equipment