Outfit Your Cruising Boat: Sailing/Cruising Equipment

Continuing with Part 2 of this 3 part series on Outfitting a Cruising Boat. Part II is specific to sailing/cruising equipment.  Be sure to check out yesterday’s post, Part I if you haven’t already seen it and don’t miss Part III, Outfitting for Lifestyle Cruising tomorrow!  

SAILING/CRUISING EQUIPMENT. In addition to big amp consumers, think carefully through sailing/cruising equipment:

  1. Reefing from Cockpit – aboard Winterlude David has to go to the mast to reef the mainsail.  I wish we had figured out a way to have reefing from the cockpit before we left to go cruising.  Now we’re used to the drill, but it still makes me nervous having him up by the mast in conditions where we need to reef!  Luckily Winterlude has bars on either side of the the mast for protection while up there.
  2. Storm Sails. Do you need them?  We’ve never used either our Gale Sail or our Storm Trysail (on a separate track on the mast), but I’m glad we have them, just in case.  We have three reefpoints in our mainsail and a 95% jib that’s heavier material than our 130% genny.  They constitute our working sails.  We don’t rig the 3rd reefpoint in the main, although there have been many times when we’ve wished for it.  The jib rolled up for a smaller size has worked fine as a “windier than we’d like” jib.

    Reliable Self Steering is a Necessity

    Reliable Self Steering is a Necessity

  3. Self Steering – You’ll want reliable self steering and it’s not inexpensive.  Be sure to get something robust or even oversize for your boat size and weight.  The last thing you want is to be hand steering if you’re going any distance.  Keep in mind, if there’s no wind, a wind vane isn’t reliable, so you’ll need a backup autopilot.  We have a wheel pilot that came with the boat and a below decks robust autopilot for a total of three autopilots.
  4. Anchoring/Windlass/Anchor/Rode – Do you like to sleep at night?  If you’re planning to anchor, this is one of the most important categories on the list.  Be sure to choose wisely and do not be penny wise and pound foolish.  Your primary anchor should probably be at least one size bigger than recommended, plus lots of chain, not just a boatlength.  We have 150′ of chain and 150′ of 3 strand nylon rode on our primary anchor and we wish we had chosen all chain.  Electric windlass?  We had a very good manual windlass for the first 3 years but just before we left to go cruising, stories of boats that should have re-anchored but were tired and didn’t want to pull the anchor up again because it was too much physical effort with the result several lost boats because they didn’t reanchor, convinced us to add the electric windlass.  We’re glad we did.

Navigating Isla Mujeres, MX to Charlotte Harbor, SW FL

Navigating Isla Mujeres, MX to Charlotte Harbor, SW FL

NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT. GPS, charts, electronic charts, AIS.   Plan for multiple chart options just in case something happens to your primary charts.   At a bare minimum you should have paper charts a GPS and a backup GPS.  We currently have 4 GPS’ aboard, 2 of which are in use anytime we’re underway.

Don’t forget to read Part I, Outfitting a Cruising Boat and Part III tomorrow, Outfitting for Your Lifestyle!

What have I forgotten?  Leave a comment & share with others!   THX!  Jan


  1. Thanks for this article. It was very helpful. I am currently looking for the right equipment for my boat. I will talk to my husband about it.

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