After you’ve been cruising for years, it’s unusual to find additions that really make a big difference in the quality of life aboard. But for our Exumas cruise, we actually had three additions that we loved! Too bad we didn’t think to try them BEFORE we’d been living aboard for 10 years!
While we were in the Exumas, we were “lucky” enough to have not one but THREE major rain events. In the past, one of the things we really disliked about tropical downpours – especially those that lasted for more than a day – was how sticky and wet everything was. Not wet from leaks, mind you, just humidity. In the past, immediately after the sun finally popped through, I’d drag every moveable cushion, towels, anything sticky that was downstairs out on the deck to absorb sun and lose the stickies. But this year, even though we had three rains that required the dinghy to be bailed multiple times, we were able to leave the portholes open which improved ventilation below 100% plus. Improved ventilation resulted in a noticeable decrease in the stickies! WooHoo! I can also leave the portholes open when we leave the boat just to go hiking or snorkeling … in the past we’d close everything up because brief tropical downpours are a regular occurrence even when there’s not a cloud in the sky when we leave. So when we returned to the boat after a dinghy exploring a creek and discovering a beach all to ourselves, the boat would be nice and cool, not closed up and stuffy hot! I wasn’t sure what to expect with the PortVisors, but they have definitely added to our enjoyment aboard!
Another smartest boat addition was the cockpit enclosure that we had completely redone last winter by Keith at Riverside Coversin Ft Myers. We cannot recommend Keith highly enough, although he’s not a big fan of doing cockpit enclosures on sailboats – I think powerboats are much easier with less stuff in the way! 🙂 We started over – the old cockpit enclosure was constructed before we had the arch and using the original stainless structure – it wasn’t high enough that we could stand up at the wheel and made us duck to go down the companionway. Plus it didn’t provide much shade since it didn’t span the entire area. Keith designed us a new family room extending the shade all the way across the cockpit and adding roll down isenglass for rain, creating our very own sunroom when the temps drop in Florida in the winter!
We also added sunscreens to cut the sun’s rays and also to add privacy for our cockpit showers. But we discovered that the sunscreens do double duty for bug screens — as long as the bug is bigger than a no-see-em — so when we were invaded by mosquitoes in Little Shark River, the sunscreens did a fine job of keeping most of the buggers outside. Keith also designed a bow cover that we can use to keep the portholes open in the rain or to use as shade, but we didn’t need to use it since the PortVisors kept the humidity inside at a minimum by adding ventilation.
The last addition is something I always SWORE I would NEVER even own, much less use aboard. But my new Kindle proved to be a valuable addition – I could store zillions of books and not be limited by the shelfspace aboard. It worked out well when I needed a light fun read to stay awake for late night (or 2:30 AM) watches! The only drawback is that I didn’t buy a light with mine, so I had to use the headlamp, but who cares! I really enjoyed having much more selection in my reading library. And since most of the selections were free, I didn’t even invest a ton of money. One of the reasons I never wanted a Kindle was that we always get books for free by trading with other cruisers or in cruiser libraries. But it turns out, there are plenty of “free” books to read. Next winter when we’re down there, I’ll get to the Cape Coral library and set up a library account so I can access an even wider range of books!