Friday, March 28, 2014


Kabul, Afghanistan

Mike and Lynn's SV Wombat of Sydney

This is a top five list of things that we think make our life onboard while cruising more enjoyable, or safer.  This is a tough list.  The difficulty is keeping the list at five.  If it were top ten list, it would have been much easier; but, by limiting the list, it made me think about and analyze the list more carefully to determine what things would make the top five.  

The things that ultimately made it definitely deserve to be there.  They range from the 'absolutely essential' to the 'really, really nice to have' categories (admittedly, these categories are subjective).  

I have not included anything that came standard on the boat; like the built in 3-burner propane stove, the built in refrigerator/ freezer, the electric anchor windlass, the swim platform, etc.  While we love all of these things, and we think they are essential, we did not individually choose and install them.

1)  Rocna Anchor

Our 66 lb. Rocna anchor is the bomb!  File this is one in the absolutely essential category.  I researched extensively to determine what I thought was the right anchor for us, and could not be more pleased.  If there is one topic that is sure to get a "discussion" going among cruisers that would be anchors.  

The Rocna is the best of the new generation spade type anchors, and it will dig in within a couple of feet of where it is dropped on most bottoms (not concrete).  Even on less than ideal bottoms, if it does come "unset", due to a wind shift or a change in current, it will reset almost immediately.  

It gives us the confidence to 'set it and forget it' …..allowing a good nights sleep without worrying about dragging onto shore, or into another boat.  Now, if we could just get everyone to use one we wouldn't have to worry about someone dragging into us.  

2)  Dual Furuno Chartplotters

One of the things on our list that is not absolutely essential, but very, very few people cruise today without one.  That should tell you something. 

Though we haven't used these particular units yet (SV Into the Light had Raymarine E-80's), Furuno is reported to make a great top-of-the-line product.  I am speaking more in terms of chartplotters in general.  

We always have paper maps available and we use them in addition to the chartplotter went doing crossings.  I chart our course, use time distance, and headings, along with our speed log to determine our approximate position.  

I own a sextant; I understand the principles of using it; and i do plan to learn it and get good at it, but, at this point, I have not done so.  You never know when something electronic can quit on you.  

But, the chartplotters make life so much easier.  There is a ton of information available to you at the touch of a button and with a radar system installed that can be overlaid right onto the chartplotter picture.  I can't imagine cruising without some type of chartplotter.   

3)  Caribe 10' Dinghy

Your dinghy is your 'car'….it gets you from your 'house' (the mothership) to the store, to the beach, to your neighbor's 'house', to the 'hunter-gatherer' sites (spearfishing), and back 'home' again.  

It is plenty big enough for 5 people and, because of the bigger tubes, it keeps us very dry.  With just Dahleen and I, the Tohatsu 9.8 horsepower 4-stroke outboard is more than adequate for us to get up on plane and zip around quickly. 

However, when we load up with 2 or 3 additional people, or load that baby down heavy with provisions and supplies, we usually can't plane out.  That is where a 15 hp Yamaha would come in handy…..that purchase may be in our distant future.

4)  Village Marine Watermaker 

Our watermaker is a 110-volt, high output unit that makes 24 gallons per hour.  Our boat tanks hold about 150 gallons of water and that will last us several days, but it is so nice to fire up the genset, start the watermaker and replenish our water supply without hauling up the anchor.  

We love the fact that our cruising schedule does not depend upon where we can get water.  In the Bahamas, water wasn't that plentiful and you usually had to buy it.  Even if it was free, we would still prefer to have a watermaker onboard to give us that additional freedom.  

They are very cost prohibitive, ($7k+) but, you can actually build a modular one from quality components for a LOT less money. If I had it to do over again, this is the route I would take.  We have been very happy with our Village Marine unit, and we would highly recommend it to anyone who didn't want to build their own.  

5)  Engel 12-volt Refrigerator/Freezer

We (I) cheated on this one.  We don't own this one yet.  But, because of our previous cruising experience, we realize how limited our freezer space is with just the built in refrig/freezer combination that comes with the boat.  There were numerous occasions that we had to give fish away, or it spoiled, because we didn't have enough space to freeze it.  

All the reviews I have read have nothing but great things to say about this unit.  These portable units are very dependable, last a long time, and use very little DC power.  Their 40-quart size is just about right for us.  The only complaint seemed to be the metal housing tended to rust in the saltwater environment ….surprised?  The company now makes a ABS-type plastic unit perfectly suited for a cruising sailboat.  

The only real negative is the price……close to $900.  Ouch.  But, it will pay for itself over the course of a year with the money saved by being able to store fish and lobster caught/hunted.  The more meat we catch and freeze, the less we have to buy.  We are really looking forward to stocking that baby up with lobster during lobster season in the Bahamas.

Honorable Mention:

Mase 6kw Marine Diesel Generator
Renolgy Solar Panels (400 total watts)
Furuno Radardome (4kw; 36-mile)
Cockpit Mounted Gas Grill

 Dahleen's  Birthday, 29 April 2006, Georgetown, Exumas   

Overlooking the Anchorage at Warderick Wells 

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