A list of practical things onboard, things we found that work for us. We researched, listened to hot tips from other cruisers and tried them out the last two years while cruising in Southern California and Pacific Mexico. We don’t get sponsoring and have no affiliations to the manufacturers to keep it real.
BOAT & SAILING
Carbon Monoxide Detector – detects the non-smelling fatal gas. Must Have Safety Item! link here
Flashlight – our favorite, waterproof, rechargeable (12 volt) flashlight. link here
Floating Handheld VHF with internal GPS – we take it everywhere… Must Have! link here
Deck Brush – very fine and good for boat washing, holds up longer than expected (2 years and counting), handle can also hold a fishing net… link here
Deck Wood Oil – we sanded the varnish off the bright work and use Semco Sealer Oil instead. Comes in different color stains, needs cleaning/oiling every 6 months rather than re-varnishing. link here
Butyl Tape – patches leaks, seals portholes to deck plates. Must have! link here
Stainless Steel Leatherman Multitool – the name says it all. Only thing it can’t do is swim! link here
Handheld Depth Meter – sometimes our depth sounder doesn’t work because of growth on the hull or it’s handy if we want to check out the depth of a bay in a dinghy. link here
Handheld Wind Meter – a seasoned sailor advised us to measure the wind near the boom, where the sails are the widest not on top of the mast. link here
Folding Seat – works well if you don’t have backrests in the cockpit, mechanism rusts easily monthly oiling necessary. link here
Canvas Bucket – heavy duty, folds small. link here
Siphon – for easy transfer of liquids, we have one for diesel, one for gas, one for water. Must have! link here
Fleece Blankets – can’t have enough: for night watches, warms even when moist, absorb moisture. We cover all our bunks and put them on the mattresses under the sheets.
Thermal Blanket – adjusts to the temperature and keeps us either warm or cool. link here
Bamboo Sheets – cooling and adjust to body temperature, moisture absorbent, mildew resistant, antiseptic and super soft and silky. link here
Bamboo Towels – silky, moisture absorbent, mildew resistant and take little space. link here
Luci Lights – charge with built-in solar panels, work for about 6 hours on one full charge, light, float, easy to use, nearly indestructible just don’t puncture them. Small lights link here large clear lights link here large frosted lights link here
LED Lights Retrofit – most cabin lights and bulbs can be retrofit by LEDs with the same socket. We bought these to match the classic look of our boat and brought replacement LED-boards with us. link here
Fans – can’t have enough 12 Volt fans! Mount in strategic places, make sure that they are well out of the way or have a safety grill. A guy in Canada made lovely wood frame fans with stainless brakes for computer fans, but recently unfortunately stopped. Good article on cabin fans by Practical Sailor link here. After trying a bunch, we love this fan: ‘Ultima’ by Caframo, a small, frameless fan with 2 speeds with fingersafe blades, which is mighty powerful, quiet and draws only 0.28/0.41 amps. We have the lighter plugin version with a suction cup, but there is also a direct wiring version with a mount. Fan clamps come only in white. link here
Vinegar – disinfectant and cleaner for galley and head. Spray the outside of a loaf of bread to prevent fast molding.
Distilled Water – clean the strataglass of the dodger with distilled water and a microfiber cloth only.
Dr. Bronner’s Soap – best biodegradable soap for body and boat diluted with water. link here
Baking Soda – for stubborn stains or dirt, apply on surface and spray on top a soap/water cleaning solution.
Lemon Oil – for wood and varnished surfaces, even makes stainless shine, great fresh smell.
Microfiber Boat Towels – take up little space, high absorbency, fast drying, great for drying off the stainless on deck. link here
WATER & WATER PROOFING
Aquaboot Sprayer – large vacuum pump button on the bottle, long spray time saves water on washing dishes to cooling mist showers. link here
LifeProof Cases – for phones, iPads are a lifesaver, although we have not tested them in the water, they keep our electronics going for over 2 years. link here
Waterproof Backpack (Drybag Closure) – very sturdy, heavier than the Duffle bag, very waterproof. link here
Waterproof Duffle Bag (Drybag Closure) – folds small, holds a lot from laundry to provisions dry in the dinghy. link here
Waterproof Handbag (Drybag Closure) – life saver of phones, wallets etc. on wet dinghy rides. I have several, in different sizes and colors, take them to towns, on flights, anywhere… link here
Space Dryer – soak up moisture, we have them in different sizes in closets, drawers and the fridge. Put in hot sun or bake in oven when it gets pink, sign that it looses absorption capacity. link here
Water Tester – to test drinking water at marinas and for product water made with a water maker. link here
Chlorine Test kit – to test input water for water maker and for water to clean the strata-glass of the dodger with, both don’t want any chlorine! link here
Water Filter on Hose – we filter water coming into tanks with this filter. link here
Potable Water Hose – specially made for filling drinking water tanks. link here
Expandable Water Hose for non-potable use – takes up way less space, weighs half and doesn’t kink. link here
Camping Shower – heats the water for showering in the sun, sturdiest we have tried so far. link here
Small Spray Bottles – we have several 500ml/16 ounce bottles for cleaning solutions I mix, for water and for vinegar.
Stainless Steel Non-Stick Nesting Pots – 4 pots and one pan, high quality, with ceramic interior is better than stainless, because it’s easier to clean (less water) all need just a wipe down and quick rinse. link here
Pan with folding handle – easy to stow and clean in small sinks. link here
Pressure Cooker – easy to use, 4 quarts is big enough for 2 people and small enough for a small boat. link here
Silicon (Baking) Mats – prevent things from sliding around on counters in rolly anchorages and on passages.
Taste Neutral Glasses – water to wine taste great like out of real glass, also unbreakable. link here
Square bowls – if you don’t have precut dish racks. These have non skid rubber on the bottom, made of recycled plastic in the US by a fellow sailor. The plates are not knife proof. link here
Square Melanine Plates, Trays and Bowls from Target (in store only). link here
Vacuum Containers with Pump – keeps perishables longer, don’t leak. link here
Spaghetti Storage Tubes – useful in top-loading fridges and iceboxes, because they make good use or the vertical space. link here
Plastic Bags with Zippers – take little space, we re-use them several times and later for smelly trash.
Collapsible Dish Tub – silicone, great space saver. link here
Trash Container with Seal – we divide trash into: dry trash (cans, plastic, packaging), smelly trash (food packaging) and organics (peels, tea bags, paper). Only organics go overboard, the smelly trash we keep in a recycled zipper bag in the airtight trash container. If we are in a shallow anchorage, nothing goes overboard, as decomposition takes long, especially lemon peels, and it might wash ashore and soil the beach. So we keep then keep organic trash also in a recycled zipper bag in the airtight trash container until we are again in deep waters and we throw it overboard there. link here
Food Hammocks with Brown Bags – dry vegetables and fruit off condensation on a towel for about an hour and separate into brown bags, as some ripen faster next to others, bananas especially exude a ripening gas and need a bag for each or hang separate around the boat. Heard a sailors’ saying ‘No bananas on the boat!’. Veggies stay as long fresh outside as inside the fridge, or longer!
Vacuum Sealer – We don’t have one because of space issues, but I have heard that others prolong food freshness for long periods by vacuum sealing it, in fridge, freezer and pantry.
Wax Paper – Some wrap cheese into wax paper and not refrigerate it. Haven’t tried that yet.
Cheese In Oil – I heard that some sailors put their cheese in a container and fill it with oil to preserve the cheese. Haven’t tried that yet either.
Sodastream – we love sodas when it gets hot. We make sparkling lemonade with 3 tablespoons of lime juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Syrups are available. One carbon cartridge makes 60 liters or 13 gallons of sparkling anything, without the trash of cans and bottles. The carbon cartridges can be refilled/exchanged in the US, there is an adapter to refill yourself at sports supply stores, but we haven’t been able to refill in MX. link here extra bottles link here
Fast Drying Shirts Men’s – Wicks-away moisture, fast drying, sun protection from Columbia link here
Women’s Cotton Shirts – I like lightweight, sasusl, comfortable cotton shirts & tunics, when it’s hot: they shield from the sun, let air through and dry fast – bought a bunch cheap at Old Navy, kind of like these link
Men’s Shirts Cotton – light and comfortable in heat. link here
Sun hats – with neck protection are a must for us, this one has the most coverage, one adjustment for the head and a neck strap link here
Foul Weather Gear – we have Gill Women’s (pants with bib for easy access) and Men’s for colder temperatures. Worth the investment or look for sales link here
Waterproof Hats and Beanies – keep the head warm and dry. link here
Waterproof Socks – keep the feet warm and dry. link here
Hot Socks – keep feet toasty link here
Space Bags – keep mold out of clothes and reduce size for easy storing.
Large Clothes Pins – for drying clothes on rails. Got mine at a dollar store. link here
Flexible Clothes Line – just long enough to stretch out through the cockpit, with intergrated clothes pins, which won’t fly! link here
Wet wipes – Good also for cat baths under way. These are made out of bamboo, are biodegradable and stay fresh for a long time, at least one year. link here
Dr. Bronner’s Soap – best biodegradable soap for body and boat diluted with water. link here
Vinegar as deodorant – Friends of ours swear by this. Put in small spray bottle, spray on a little bit and smell dissipates immediately. It’s anti-fungal capacities make vinegar a natural deodorant.
Nopoo (No Shampoo) & shampoo – some people do it, on the boat I can go up to 4 days without washing my hair. If shampoo, we use this product which foams with little water and washes out fast.
Baking Soda – as tooth paste.
Olive Oil – as make-up remover.
Electric Shaver – makes more sense, because uses no water, goes a long time on one charge.
DOGS ON BOARD
Puppy Potty Training Pad and Tray – works for dogs of all ages, tray contains the pee. link here
Dehydrated Dog Food – true space saver, rehydrate with water to about double the amount. This food is also human grade. link here
– DISCLAIMER –
We have not received sponsoring by these companies, nor do we suggest these particular items. We don’t suggest buying them from the links, they are meant solely as a reference.
We will be updating this list as we go along.