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I’m sure my top must have boat accessories are WAY different than Tom’s. While his primary concerns are maintenance, tools, supplies, etc., a lot of my concerns have to do with comfort. It may be silly, but I enjoy being warm and comfortable when we sail and at anchor, and I like having items that make the liveaboard boat into a cozy home.
Here are my top 13 must have boat accessories for sailing and living aboard.
I’m sure at some point, I’ll need real heavy duty gear for the sailboat, but this jacket is perfect for jaunts around the San Francisco Bay. It’s the same jacket I wear backpacking, and I really like that it’s lightweight and breathable Gor-Tex. It works as an amazing windbreaker when we sail, and I often put it over a simple cashmere sweater. On warmer days, I wear it over a t-shirt to avoid getting drenched in rough swell. This jacket has so many uses that I’m really glad I bought it a couple years ago. Plus, the breathable quality means you won’t get overheated!
2. Wool socks
This one is probably extra silly to put in my must have boat accessories category, but there’s nothing like warm wool socks during a cold night and morning at anchor. I put these on to pad around the cold wood floors of the boat, and also wear them at night when we leave the hatch open for the cool breeze. You can’t go wrong with having a pair of cozy wool socks onboard!
Sunhat’s aren’t the sexiest thing in the world, but they sure are necessary! Tom and I both wear a backpacking style sunhat on the boat which provides neck protection, which is essential as we don’t have a shade structure set up yet. A sunhat combined with mineral sunscreen is one of my most important in the “must have boat accessories” category.
No, boat shoes are not necessary on a sailboat! I like Tevas because they’re waterproof and easily slip on and off. Plus, my Tevas are comfortable enough to go on a long walk or hike in. I brought these with me on my hike along the John Muir Trail, and not only were they essential backpacking, I also don’t leave the marina without them.
5. Sun shirt
It’s amazing how many of my backpacking items have come in handy sailing as well. I first bought a long-sleeved white sun-shirt to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada, but oh how this is good on the sailboat, especially as we don’t have a bimini yet. Keeping my skin away from the sun is VERY important to me. I don’t want to look like a salty sailor yet! Another very important thing to mention is that we should be using MINERAL sunscreen on the boat if we plan on going swimming. Chemical sunscreen really hurts the ocean life.
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6. Sailing gloves
Sailing gloves are definitely on the list of must have boat accessories. I have tried pulling lines without them and just end up with really sore hands and some large callouses. Callouses are actually good and will protect my hands in the future, but I also need gloves. Sailing gloves have really helped out when I’m pulling on those jib sheets and the main sheet, which is extra hard for me to maneauver.
I absolutely HAVE to have my kindle when I’m onboard our sailboat. The Kindle prevent the sailboat from being bogged down by stacks of books, and I can fit thousands of books on there. Also, I read for free using the Kindle as I get digital books from the library. My Kindle is far better to read than any sort of screen as I can read it in bright light. Eliminating clutter is one of my favorite things on the boat!
8. Go Pro camera
I am so glad I bought this camera to chronicle our journeys on the boat. It’s very small and takes amazing still photos and great video. I also have all the accessories that lets you wear it on your head or chest, stick it to the sailboat mast, or put it on the end of a selfie stick. This waterproof camera is going to provide me with loads of fun while we’re out on our adventures.
9. DVD drive
This DVD drive is an awesome item on our list of must have boat accessories. Both of us use lightweight MacBook Pros which no longer come with DVD drives. Instead of having a separate TV and DVD player on the sailboat, we just hook this little bugger up to our laptops and watch. This also helps eliminate clutter since the thing is so small it fits in a drawer. I get free movies and shows at the library, which also cuts back on our expenses.
10. Cast iron pan
Yep, I actually have this large cast iron braising pan in the sailboat’s small galley. This pot is very versatile, allowing me both to fry stuff on the stove, and bake things in the oven. It’s heavy and deep and can be secured with the stove clamps. I’ve used this pot for so many great meals I can’t even count. Now that I’m used to this awesome cast iron pot, I wouldn’t be able to do without it.
11. Flexible cutting boards
I love using these cutting boards on the sailboat. They are small and hold up well, and fit underneath the sink with the rest of our pots and pans. I can’t imagine having real wooden cutting boards on the boat, mostly due to the space they take up. These are also color-coded if you like to keep your veggies and meat separate.
12. Shop vac
I’m sure this item is something Tom and I would agree that is a must have essential for the sailboat. This vacuum cleaner has been used for so many things its ridiculous. From unclogging a stuck sink drain, to catching wood shavings while Tom drills, to vacuuming out parts of the bilge, to cleaning out under the sink. I love that we can vacuum up both liquids and solids with this handy vacuum. I can’t imagine sailboat life without it.
13. Wine sippy cup
There’s nothing worse than spilling red wine on teak, which is why I have this handy dandy wine sippy cup onboard. It’s one of my best boat accessories, works like a charm and still sort of looks like a wine glass. I use this outside, on the counter when I cook, at the table, in the salon when I read. I did tip it over once and barely anything came out. This is an ESSENTIAL on the sailboat! I think Tom would agree.
There’s one more item that I really want to try on the sailboat but haven’t bought yet, which are Vyve Splashpants. These pants would be great sun protection, and work both on land and in water. Apparently surfers, stand-up-paddleboarders, and yogis like them due to their flexibility and quick-drying nature. I really want to get some for the sailboat to put on when I jump on the dinghy, paddle board, or surf. I love the sun protection, something I’m a big stickler for.
What items can you not do without? I’d love to know about them!
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