September 19, 2006

After One Year

Some good friends of ours, the Johnsons on Side by Side, are taking off on their catamaran this year. The other day I received an email asking me for my thoughts on gear after a year out here. Actually, it's not exactly correct to say we've been out for a year, as Leslie and I have been cruising off and on since around 1976. But we do have a new boat, to us, Minke, a Finnsailer 38 motorsailor. I sent the Johnsons my thoughts, but I've subsequently rethought things. So here are the best five things we brought and the five things we brought but didn't need:

Glad we have:
1. Inflatable kayaks for the kids--it gives them independence, and we have back up dinghies if the big inflatable is stolen.
2. Electronic chart plotting and charts for the PC--we've ended up going all sorts of places we didn't plan on going, and the electronic charts allowed us to do so. But, I always print out charts in case the electronics fail.
3. Bulwagga Anchor--never fails while other boats are dragging all around us.
4. Manual ABI anchor windlass--powerful and always works, but it is slow.
5. Lots of anchor chain--we sleep more soundly knowing the rode won't chafe through, and we can use less scope in tight anchorages.

You'll note there's a theme for a lot of that list. Your anchoring gear is probably the most important gear onboard. You'll be at anchor a lot more than underway, and you'll probably be in worse weather while at anchor then when offshore, if you're watching the weather like you should. Don't scrimp on anchoring gear.

Probably don't need:
1. Pressure cooker--Leslie has used it only once a month or so and it takes up a lot of stowage space.
2. Spare CQR 45-lb anchor. It used to be our old faithful, but it now takes up deck space and breaks toes. The Bulwagga is our main with several aluminum Fortresses for second anchors. I'd trade the CQR for a really big Fortress.
3. Our built-in 3KW generator, which has never worked, is heavy, and takes up a lot of space. I'd rather have more solar panels and/or a portable generator.
4. Full carpeting--we had nice new carpets made, but in the tropics they are too hot and get dirty from sweaty feet. We now have painted floorboards and a few small throw rugs.
5. Our 12/120 volt refrigerator, which is very inefficient in terms of power consumption. I wish we had a bigger holding plate fridge or a newer generation, more efficient 12-volt unit.