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When it comes to boat accessories, it’s hard to know what to choose to make your sailing trip enjoyable. Our sailboat is currently stuffed to the brim with tools as the boat undergoes a total restoration, but there is plenty of sailing gear that we use regularly and love.

Some of this boat gear has to do with boat work, but a lot of it is for comfort.

Here are my top 13 must have boat accessories for sailing and living aboard.

1. Portable bidet for our sailboat head

It might sound weird to use a bidet on a sailboat, but trust me, it’s the perfect boat accessory. It’s small enough to fit right next to the toilet in the head and is a great way to keep an excess of toilet paper out of the holding tack. Also, its convenient to use as a sprayer to clean out the toilet bowl. I love this little contraption; we even take it backpacking so we don’t have to bury toilet paper in the woods. It may seem silly, but it’s really one of the things we love best on the sailboat.

2. Respirator for sailboat projects

We all know that the sailing life often involves doing boat work in exotic places, which is why it’s important to have a good respirator on hand. Tom and I have used these respirators even when grinding fiberglass, so I know they are heavy-duty. He also consistently uses it when dealing with any sort of painting, as the filters block out even the harshest particles and fumes. This is boat gear that shouldn’t leave your sailboat’s shelves.

5 essential sailing books I love

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3. Splashpants

13 things I can't live without on the sailboat

Vyve Splashpants are awesome for people who like water sports like sailing, surfing or standup paddle-boarding. They are different from throwing on regular yoga pants because they dry quickly and are made out of the same material as a swimsuit. They offer sun protection, which I’m a big fan of. They do run small, though, so I’d recommend sizing up.

4. Tevas

No, boat shoes are not necessary for me 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

I love this sun-shirt to add to my collection of sailing clothes. 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. Aeropress Coffee Maker


I just adore the Aeropress Coffee Maker for the sailboat. It’s small, easy to use, and it comes with enough filters to last me a year. I love that it won’t tip over and spew coffee everywhere like my regular pour-over setup. Plus, it brews some of the best coffee I’ve ever had! I would highly recommend this little device to add to your boat gear collection.

7. Kindle to store thousands of books

I absolutely HAVE to have my Kindle when I’m onboard our sailboat. The Kindle prevents 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 sailboat!

5 essential sailing books that will never leave my shelf

8. Go Pro camera for filming our sailing adventures

I am so glad I bought this GoPro camera to chronicle our journeys on the sailboat. It’s very small and takes amazing still photos and great video. I also have all the accessories that let 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, and I would definitely add it to the list of must-have boat accessories. Especially if you’re into blogging and video-making.

9. DVD drive for watching movies at anchor

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.

5 essential sailing books I love

Essentialsailingbooks

From diesel mechanics, to predicting the weather, to heaving-to a boat in a storm, sign up to see which five essential books will never leave our sailboat's shelf.

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10. Pressure cooker for fast, easy meals

I am so in love with the pressure cooker on the sailboat. I’ve cooked everything from flank steak that is fork-tender, to braised chicken that falls off the bone, to black beans that cook in just 30 minutes. Not only does it save on propane, but you can leave a stew to cook on pressure even when the boat is heeling. A great way to make a fast meal on a boat. I can’t imagine doing without this pressure cooker in the galley.

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 for boat work messes

I’m sure this Shop-Vac 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 it’s 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.

5 essential sailing books that will never leave my shelf

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.

Welp, there you have it! Those are my top 13 must have boat accessories for life aboard the sailboat.

What items can you not do without? I’d love to know about them!

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