During our month long cruise aboard Galapagos Mike and I paid a lot of attention to how we lived aboard. We noticed things about our habits on board, our routines, what we enjoyed, and what had yet to be settled. We knew that this month away would give us a lot of time to collect data; really get down to some details about how to make Galapagos into the home we want her to be.
As the time to move aboard begins to get closer, we become increasingly interested in what other people use on their boats. What do they like? What works and what is too much trouble? We’re not talking about things like sail systems or radar here, we’re talking about day to day living on a floating object. I mean, think about it. Even if you don’t know much about boats, you probably realize that something like my Kitchenaid Mixer is both too large and too power-hungry to be a good choice on a sailboat. We pay a lot of attention to other people’s blogs for that kind of content.
So I was thrilled when a few weeks before we left Brittany over at Windtraveler.net blogged about her top ten simple and inexpensive items they use on their boat all the time. Woo hoo! Jackpot! See, Brittany and Scott live on a small sailboat with three tiny tots. (!!) Small sailboat + 3 tiny tots = one busy set of parents where easier is better when it comes to using stuff on a daily basis. I figured if a busy mom thought these things were good, who was I to argue? So I read, I clicked through on some of her links, and I purchased some things on her list.
Here is our own list of ‘wins’ in the accessory category. Thanks, Brittany, for turning us on to some of these.
1. Turkish Towels – Who knew? These towels really ARE better and I am wondering how come we don’t use these at home? Do not be fooled by how thin the fabric is. They actually are super absorbant and we used them, like Brittany, for so many things. They do dry in a flash, too. Good for wrapping around your body, for shading the overhead window in the hard dodger, and for keeping hot skin from sticking to the surface of the cockpit cushions.
2. Copco To-Go Coffee Mug – Our Thermos brand mugs somehow developed a rounded bottom so I bought a couple of these based on Brittany’s recommendation. I have to say we really do like them. Lightweight, easy to hold onto with their grippy middle, easy to open and close, and they keep the coffee nice and hot in the cockpit. Plus, they do not rattle in the cabinet when we’re sailing. Pretty good for the price.
3. Wet-it! Cleaning Cloths – I had mixed feelings about these. I wanted to try them because when we are at home we use a lot of paper towels and that’s very wasteful. I also use a lot of dishcloths, but on the boat those get stinky and are hard to wash. Needless to say, we won’t be using many paper towels when we are traveling because, I mean, they create trash. These Swedish cleaning cloths were recommended by Brittany, who has those three kids, after all, so they were worth a try.I think she had better luck with hers than I had with ours; or maybe we’re just dirtier than three toddlers. That could be true… I used one the entire month we were gone. The result is as you see in the photo. This was used to clean the counters and the stove in the galley, and to wipe up any food-related spills. The absorption is great, and these dry pretty fast. But they get grungy fast as well and the photo above was taken after soaking this cloth in a bleach solution. I’m not very impressed with that. I’m a little persnickety about wanting things that are clean to actually LOOK clean. Still, it’s on the list because it is a good substitute for wasteful paper towels. Maybe I’ll just hide it underneath the sink where I don’t have to look at it between wipes.
4. Sunny Portable Stepper – That’s right, I brought this on the boat. And it’s actually a great little unit. It’s very well made, adjustable, and it is easy to store either underneath the salon table or under the seat in the v-berth. This is one of those things I used several times when stuck on the boat due to rain, or just because we were underway a lot with the engine running. I was determined that I was not going to come home from our last cruise wearing larger clothes and this little unit helped me reach that goal. As a bonus, if you use this underway, you’re going to be giving your core muscles a very nice workout, and you will certainly break a sweat. I find the arm bands to be pretty useless, but maybe I just haven’t found my groove with them yet.
5. Chillax Hammock – I bought one of these for $14.99 at Costco as an impulse buy for Mike’s birthday. Does he like it? Oh yes, he really does. This is strong, yet light weight and very easy to deploy on the boat. I still have my heavy, cotton hammock that I used on Moonrise, but if Costco gets these again this year, I’m getting another one of these. With our ketch rig, we can have dualing hammocks. They take up no space and would be comfortable to sleep in. I’m thinking we could even hang one of these in the quarter berth cabin to use for sleeping while underway. No problems with heeling when you are hanging in a hammock! The other thing I like about this hammock is that there is enough fabric that you can completely wrap yourself up, as though in a cocoon, which protects from the sun. But the fabric is lightweight enough that air flows through easily. A total win.
6. Bodum Milk Frother – As a Pacific Northwest coffee lover, it is my secret shame that I really do like Nescafe instant coffee. Blame it on Scotland. I learned to love it there. Not only that, but I make a latte with my Nescafe every morning using my dandy, cheap and easy Bodum frother. Heat a little milk, froth it into a dense and creamy foam, add your instant coffee granules just on the edge of the cup and gently pour in the hot water directly on top of the granuals, disturbing the top of the foam as little as possible.
It’s just about perfect. For my birthday, Mike bought me a really nice stainless steel rechargeable unit. Unfortunately, it’s so powerful that it actually doesn’t make very good foam and I end up splattering milk all over the kitchen. I like my foam to be very dense and hold up for the entire latte experience. On the other hand, the rechargeable unit makes terrific scrambled eggs. I recommend getting rechargeable batteries for your cheaper, easier to use Bodum.
7. Food Saver Vacuum Sealer– In terms of provisioning for our trip, this was a spectacular win. Not only is it fun to use, but it really does allow things like fresh vegetables and fruits to last much longer. Before we left, I made sausage and egg breakfast muffins, small meat loafs, and greek spinach and cheese ‘loafs’, vacuum sealed them, and then froze them. I also bought meat, divided it into servings, and vacuum sealed it in bags to freeze. I did the same thing with produce and stored that in the refrigerator. We were able to go for a long time without provisioning. In addition, the bags can be washed and re-used, reducing the amount of trash you have to deal with. We plan to use this tool to store and protect small parts, hardware, tools and other things in addition to food. We bought ours at Costco, which has a better price and frequently puts them on sale.
8. DryCase Basin backpack – I got tired of worrying that my camera or phone, etc, would get wet on the dinghy ride to shore, and I didn’t have a backpack. I wanted a waterproof one. As a member of Women Who Sail on Facebook, I took advantage of a great discount on this backpack when it was first manufactured. It’s turned out to be a great pack. It’s versatile, has pockets on the outside for water bottle, etc, and even has suction cups so you can attach it to your SUP, if you use one of those. I am happy with how it fits, and with the mesh back that keeps the sweat at bay. I also like that it is basically one big open compartment that you can easily stuff things into. Too many little compartments only make me lose things. You can carry a lot of groceries in this pack. I know this well.
Do you have some favorite little things you find to be useful on your boat? Please tell us about them!
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