Top 10 Useful Things You Might Forget

When you pack a boat to live on it indefinitely, you end up packing a LOT of stuff...

October 20, 2011

Windtraveler- boat card


You scour provisioning lists online, you read checklists in sailing books, you read blogs like this one, and you get lots of advice from other cruisers about what you “must” and “need” to have aboard. Before you know it – your mind is literally racing with a tangled list of items. Scott and I packed our boat pretty well. We certainly brought along things we didn’t need, but what’s most important are the things we remembered. We learned a lot along the way and continue to learn (we are by no means experts!) – so take this with a grain of salt. These are a few items that we have found helpful to have aboard that we think might slip your mind (because many of them slipped ours!). So, with no further ado, I give you our:

Top 10 Useful Items that Might be Easily Forgotten

1. Screens – We didn’t really experience bugs until we got to the southern Caribbean, but ever since – we have thanked the previous owner over and over for the screens that are fitted for every hatch and companionway (we NEVER would have thought of them). We love them. Mosquitos at night are NOT your friends, trust me!


2. Extra camera battery – This is ironic, because last night I actually ran out my camera battery and cursed myself for not remembering my cardinal rule even after writing this post. When my camera battery dies, I (usually) always have one charged and ready to go, so in a moment (like last night), when I need it – I can pop it in and keep it going! (IF I remember to bring it…doh!). My dad taught me this one and it’s resulted in many pictures that would not have been otherwise!

3. Magnet – we don’t have one…yet. But we have needed one countless times to pick up a stray piece of hardware or help to remove a stripped screw. A magnet can be very helpful around a boat – just make sure to keep it away from the compass!!

4. Extendable mirror – We have a little 2×2 mirror on an extending arm and it has been VERY useful in seeing what is going on in the little places our heads can’t go (which on a boat, are many). We have used it to see what is happening behind a control panel, in a corner of the engine, underneath the bottom of our water pump or down in a locker. Very, very useful. A pocket mirror won’t do, the arm is key.


5. Umbrella – even though we live in “paradise” doesn’t mean it’s sunny all the time! We have been getting a LOT of rain these days and having a nice umbrella makes the trips to the grocery store or market much more pleasant. Not to mention, we’ve brought it to the beach for shade and used it to walk under on incredibly hot days.

6. Floating toys – Sure, fenders will work – but we bought inexpensive pool noodles in Puerto Rico for three bucks a piece and never looked back! They are so much fun to float and drink in. We have the ones with holes through the center so we can loop an old halyard through them and toss them behind the boat enabling you to float lazily without drifting out to the ocean.

7. Work gloves – these are great for actually working of course, but if you are a hiker, you will find them great on hikes as well. Scrambling up a ridge that is covered in razor grass or grabbing at slippery muddy branches is much easier when you have something to protect and cover your hands!


8. Wire Hangers – we had plastic hangers at first, and they all broke pretty quickly. I bought wire hangers from Walgreens somewhere along the ICW and we’ve never turned back. They are sturdy enough for foul weather gear, don’t break if you grab something quickly and can be bent and contorted to be used for all sorts of MacGyver-esque functions. Fun!

9. Boat Cards – these are basically business cards, for boats! Most people have a picture of their boat on theirs – but we have a picture of ourselves (so people can remember our faces). Other information you might want to include: Your name, name of your boat, email address, website, radio call sign, and perhaps even a cell phone or sat phone number. Despite the fact that we forget to bring ours out with us all the time, we have handed out many and received even more! They are a great, easy way to exchange information and keep in touch. You can have them made for almost nothing over at

10. Folding Chairs – I bought these while we were in Ft. Lauderdale and I am so glad we did! There are many beach pot-lucks or cruiser get together’s when there is not enough seating for everyone. Having these little guys makes life a little easier so we don’t need to sit in the mud or sand while we have dinner, plus they fold to almost nothing and take up very little room. Scott however, is less a fan of these and calls them “nut crushers.” TMI? Sorry.


So, while we’re not trying to confuse you further or add to your never-ending list of things you need, these are items we have found useful that we think might be easily overlooked or forgotten. What do you think? Do you have any items that you find incredibly handy that you didn’t think you would? We’d love to know!

Brittany & Scott

_When two people, with the same life long dream of sailing around the world find each other, there’s only one thing to do… make it happen!
Which is precisely what we, Scott and Brittany, are doing aboard our boat, Rasmus, a Hallberg-Rassy 35 which departed from Chicago September 2010! Follow along at _


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