10 Ideas To Make Life Aboard Easier or Better

Life aboard a cruising boat is not all toes in the sand, swaying palm trees and dolphins playing while sipping coffee in the early morning.  Once in a while life intrudes and you reluctantly remember that cruising is a lifestyle and not a vacation.  Here are a few things that make our lives aboard easier or better.

Josh Caye off Guanaja, the easternmost of the Bay Islands, Honduras.

Josh Caye off Guanaja, the easternmost of the Bay Islands, Honduras.

The best quick dry towel we've tried, and we've tried a bunch over the years.

The best quick dry towel we’ve tried, and we’ve tried a bunch over the years.

1.  Quick Dry Towels.  There’s nothing I hate more than towels being stinky after just a couple of showers.  In the high humidity and salt air typically found on a boat — and lack of air conditioning — the thick fluffy towels I love at the lake turn into a stinky soggy mess.   They’re a nightmare to hand wash and never wring out enough to get them dry after washing.  It didn’t take us long to switch to quick dry towels, even though we don’t like them as much.  We’ve tried several, but the ones we keep coming back to are REI and we love the extra large – it’s big enough to wrap around me, but small enough to pack if I need something that takes almost no space in my backpack.

PortVisor in the Rain2.  Ventilation.  We’re lucky that s/v Winterlude has great cross ventilation … but when a trough gets stuck on top of us and it rains for days, I’m particularly grateful for the Portvisors that we added just a few years ago.  What took us so long?  I have no answer, except to say if I were getting our boat ready to cruise all over again, Portvisors would be one of the first things on my list.

3.  We also love our little Nicro solar dorade fan – we replaced one dorade with a solar dorade fan that is set to extract air from inside helping circulate the inside air constantly – even when we’re not there, helping greatly while we’re away from the boat.

4.  Battery Watering System.   If you have lead acid/flooded wet cell batteries that require you to be a contortionist to check the water levels monthly, installing a battery watering system may make your life immensely easier.  All battery configurations are different, we bought ours from the golf cart store where we bought our last batch of Trojan T-105 6V batteries.  But FlowMaster makes several different kinds are are available from Amazon at a significant discount to what we paid!  Not good comparison shopping on my part.  🙁

Thirsty Mate Hand Pump

Thirsty Mate Hand Pump

5.   David added this one…  Manual Thirsty Mate Pump … This little manual pump is great for so many things …. from pumping out that last bit of excess bilge water so we can clean the bottom of the bilge to pumping out the dinghy after a monsoon downpour and many many other uses.  We’re on our 2nd one and love it.    Here’s a post on “Get the Water Out:  Best Handheld Pumps”  for more.



6.  Another from David …. his Craftsman 122 Mechanics Tool Set – it has allen wrenches, sockets and wrenches — in both metric and standard and it seems it’s constantly out open on the bed for some project or another.  This is one of those things that I clearly remember thinking when we were initially outfitting the boat “do you REALLY need THAT?  it’s expensive”.  But it’s constant use has shown me we’d have been lost without it.  And it’s amazing how many other cruisers need to borrow pieces from it.  Well worth the investment.

Our best friend for changing our oil since you cannot access anything easily on our boat.

Our best friend for changing our oil since you cannot access anything easily on our boat.

7.  Oil Change Pump — last one from David, but this makes my life easier as well because it no longer takes all day and countless swear words to change our engine oil!  Actually it’s not an oil change pump specifically, but an overall utility pump.  But once we used it for oil changes, the oil never quite cleans up, so it’s now an oil change pump.

8.  LED Battery Operated Tap Lights.  Why is it every time I open the door under the head sink to get something stored in that vast space, I can never see.  It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, it’s DARK under there.  And there’s a lot of stuff stored under there, everything from our snorkel gear, to my little bucket for cleaning teak, to bleach, laundry supplies .. I mean A LOT of stuff.  And it used to take longer to find what I needed than it took to use it.  Now I’ve added little stick on LED battery operated tap lights to every dark corner I used to have to go get the flashlight to find what I needed.  And I’m  MUCH happier and less frustrated!

IMG_25129.  Best Solar Cockpit Light.    Sometimes you find something new that really does make life easier aboard!  A couple years ago we added a LumiQuest SoLite as our cockpit light.  When I first saw it, all I could think about was the number of times I’ve tripped over the cord that runs from our 12V outlet just inside the companionway out to the Davis MegaLight we’ve used for a cockpit light for years.

Our folding mast steps - we like that they fold up flush against the mast when they're not in use, but pop out easily when needed.

Our folding mast steps – we like that they fold up flush against the mast when they’re not in use, but pop out easily when needed.

10. Folding Mast Steps.  We use ours just to the first set of spreaders – they allow easy access to the deck light and other stuff that’s not all the way at the top.   We added one set at the very top of the mast so when we use the ATN topclimber to go up we have something to stand on while working at the very top.  I also use these folding mast steps to go partway up to give me a higher vantage point as we pick our way through coral heads into anchorages most boats don’t visit.

So that’s our Top 10 ideas to make life easier aboard s/v Winterlude.  What makes life easier aboard your boat?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan

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