We’ve come to the end of our first season cruising the Bahamas and after five months have come to realize which items we couldn’t live without. These things are not absolute necessities, and anyone could go without them, but they make our lives a whole lot easier and more comfortable while living aboard.
Our cockpit enclosure is a game changer…it extends our living space to the cockpit under any condition. We spend more time in the cockpit than we do any other spot on the boat and without it, we’d have to hustle down below at first sight of rain or bugs. Instead, we can roll down the individual sections (port, starboard, and aft), zip them together, and have a completely enclosed space. We are incredibly thankful the previous owners added this feature to the boat…it is probably not something we would have thought of before. If it rains, we leave the isinglass panels closed and if we find ourselves in a buggy anchorage, we can unzip the inner panels for a screened porch option. The best thing about this enclosure system is that all the parts stay put, just roll or unroll, depending on our needs. Since we protect the bimini fabric with 303 protectant spray, rain stays out and doesn’t leak through the top, keeping us nice and dry.
We do not have the space or power supply to be able to store and run a regular coffee maker or Keurig (mine is in storage), but I definitely can’t go without my coffee in the morning. After a bit of research, we settled on a French press. It is incredibly easy to use and our stainless-steel press (ordered from Amazon) is heavy and durable. The only downside is cleaning out the grounds…which I’d need to get over if I’m using anything other than a Keurig. I watched a YouTube video, practiced a few times before we left Florida to get the technique down…and I love it. Troy can take or leave a cup of coffee and I’ve got to have it; but, we both agree that it’s better tasting than more traditional methods!
Again, something we must thank the previous owners for leaving us. Our two main uses for our Engel are freezing/storing meat and making ice. Our top loading fridge/freezer in the galley cannot single-handedly accommodate our food storage needs while cruising. We loaded up on meats at Sam’s Club before leaving home and stored them in our freezer. This saves us tons of money since we were able to buy in bulk and for the most part, haven’t needed to buy meat in the Bahamas. Summer has arrived…and it is hot! We are constantly making ice in our ice trays to keep our drinks extra cold. Our Engel freezer is about the size of an average cooler and fits nicely under our salon table; it also occasionally serves as the cat’s perch. It is not a power hog so our solar keeps it powered easily. The freezer settings are adjustable and can be used as a refrigerator as well.
Before leaving for the Bahamas, we weren’t sure how often we would be without cell service. The inReach is a satellite communication device with 100% global coverage. It is different than a satellite phone in that we cannot make phone calls, but we can text and email from anywhere on the planet. For about $20.00 per month, we are allotted 40 text messages, up to 160 characters. We use the tracking function to send our location to family and friends. We can also order marine weather specific to our location which is super helpful when we have no cell service. The SOS feature is similar to that of an epirb, but with an extra bonus. If we must use the SOS button, we are able to communicate back and forth with emergency services until help arrives. We take our inReach with us whenever we leave the boat. Thankfully, so far, we’ve only used the inReach to text Mom and Dad.
We chose the small round Magma since it’s just the two of us on board. We use the grill several times per week…even to cook our homemade pizza. We bought the small Coleman propane cans at Sam’s Club. In four months, we’ve used five small cans of propane. Having the grill has a bonus, other than yummy grilled pizza or burgers: it keeps the cabin cooler when we use it to prepare meals instead of the oven. We mounted the grill to the stern railing, so it stays out of the way.
We have several sized dry bags that have proven to be invaluable. We actually didn’t start using these right away; we used a regular backpack whenever we left the boat. But it didn’t take long before the zippers rusted and our stuff inside got wet from rain or splashing. We made the switch and love our dry bags! We found our dry bags especially helpful in George Town when we had to make long trips with groceries from town back to our anchorage. It rained nearly every day for a week and the only thing that kept our food from getting sopping wet was the dry bags. We also use the dry bags to haul our laundry back and forth on the dinghy!
Our Simrad Autopilot is one of Troy’s favorite items. He doesn’t use it every time we’re underway, in fact, while sailing, he typically hand steers. However, whenever we motor, it keeps an incredibly accurate course. Some of our longest passages have been motoring (thanks to a lack of wind). When we’ve got a straight 40-mile course, hand steering can become monotonous. Setting autopilot just makes things more comfortable.
While in the Bahamas, this was our connection to the world! Thankfully, we had family send this to us in Staniel Cay…before then, we had listened to everything on our iPod a thousand times over. For $20 a month, we get music channels and all football games, baseball games, and all NASCAR races. If we feel the need for a dose of the news, we’ve got that too. I can’t begin to explain how nice it is to have such a wide variety of music. Feeling like some Jimmy Buffet? Kenny Chesney’s No Shoes Nation? Tom Petty? Reggae? We’ve got options for it all!
We ordered the Summer Shower from Amazon. It is basically a self-heating shower bag. It holds about three gallons of water and heats without any power. We fill it in the sink and place it on the deck in the morning. If we get good sun that day, we have a nice, hot shower that evening. When we’re in the Bahamas, we shower outside. The shower has a sturdy handle that we hang off the dinghy davits…we shower off the stern of the boat. This is especially nice since we are able keep water and humidity out of the cabin.
Thanks for reading! Happy sailing!