35 Game-Changing Sailboat Accessories for Life Afloat

Curious what it takes to make a sailboat into a comfortable home? Here are the best sailboat accessories for life aboard, wherever you are on your sailboat.

I’ve lived on a CT-41 ketch sailboat with my partner Tom since 2016. We started out by sailing in the San Francisco Bay area, and in 2020, we sailed down the coast of Baja California to enter the Sea of Cortez. We’ve been wintering in the sea ever since, and during the summer months, enjoy life in our campervan.

The items I’ve listed here are intended to make life on a sailboat more comfortable. I did NOT include safety gear as this is a totally separate list. These are the best sailboat accessories for life aboard, and many of these items I can’t do without.

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Personal Electronics and Camera Gear

woman sitting next to her computer, one of her top sailboat accessories
Working remotely on my sailboat in the Sea of Cortez

Since I work aboard our sailboat when we’re living in Mexico during the winter months, I must have an arsenal of camera and computer gear. I also love using my iPad for downloading cookbooks and shows for times when we don’t have our Starlink running.

Here are the best electronic sailboat accessories:

  1. Kindle

    I absolutely HAVE to have my Kindle when I’m onboard our liveaboard 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. I also chose the Paperwhite version because it is waterproof, which you can’t beat when you live on a boat!

    Buy on Amazon.com
  2. Apple iPad

    We used to use a DVD drive and a computer to watch movies on our sailboat, but that still required having DVS onboard. We’ve tried to cut clutter by ditching those extra items and investing in an iPad.

    Not only can we download shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime, I can also download and read free books and magazines from the library.

    I never knew I’d use the iPad so much onboard our sailboat, but now I can’t imagine living without it.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  3. Macbook Pro

    This is the computer I use to do all my work from my sailboat and my campervan. Since I run a blogging business remotely, it's important that I have the best, fastest computer at my disposal. I've loved the Macbook Pro so far!

    Shop on Amazon.com
  4. Apple AirPods

    I use my Airpods daily and consider it one of my top sailboat accessories. I can sit on the stern and listen to music or podcasts while I'm on watch, or watch shows and not disturb Tom if he's sleeping. These are also handy for listening to a meditation if I'm having a hard time getting to sleep.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  5. Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera

    I use my Sony A6400 both for photos and videos. I love that it has an interchangeable lens feature, so I have a lens for every possible occasion. The photo quality is as good as a DSLR in a much lighter-weight package. I love the Sony Alpha cameras!

    Shop on Amazon.com
  6. Lume Cube Creator Kit

    This handy selfie stick is great for either photos, or taking "vlog" style videos. I love that it has a place to clip a light and microphone. I highly recommend this for any content creators out there living on a sailboat.

    Shop on LumeCube.com
  7. GoPro Hero5 Black

    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 provides 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.

    Buy on Amazon.com

Personal Hygiene and Clothes Washing

socks hanging to try from a sailboat's lifelines

Here are some of my favorite sailboat accessories and items for staying clean. We take showers using salt water; something my hair loves. It’s not for everyone, though! I’m also happy I discovered the Scrubba wash bag. I use it all the time.

  1. Portable Travel Bidet

    It might sound weird to use a portable bidet on a sailboat, but trust me, it’s the perfect sailboat 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 tank.

    Also, it’s 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 a portable bidet really is a sailboat must-have.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  2. Turkish Towels

    I never knew a towel could be so perfect until I tried Turkish towels, recommended by my friend Melody of Saving to Sail. Many sailors use these incredibly soft towels, which are also lightweight, portable and quick-drying.

    I use to think microfiber was the best type of travel towel, but now I’m completely sold on Turkish towels.

    While they are more expensive than traditional towels, they are worth it! We even use them in our campervan.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  3. Ethique Shampoo and Conditioner Bars

    We love using these shampoo bars on the sailboat. Not only do they eliminate garbage, but they are easy to store and use. They don't work in saltwater, though!

    Shop on Amazon.com
  4. Sea to Summit Solar Shower

    We love this particular solar shower from Sea to Summit. It folds down tiny for easy storage, and holds enough water for one shower. Our only complaint is that the flow is pretty slow out of the nozzle, but that helps the shower last longer!

    Buy on REI.com
  5. Scrubba Laundry Bag

    We just love this "Scrubba" laundry bag. A super easy way to wash a few articles of clothing when in our campervan or on our sailboat.

    The Scrubba features a flexible inner washboard to give your clothes a wash as good as any machine can do. You just fill the bag with water, add your clothes, and roll the bag against a hard surface. The bag can also double as a dry bag or storage bag!

    Shop on Scrubba.com

My Favorite Clothing Items

Kristin Hanes on a sailboat
Hanging out in Mexico on our sailboat

While I do have an entire post about the best things to wear on a sailboat, here are some of my top picks.

  1. Sunday Afternoons Sun Hat

    This insanely un-stylish sunhat is what we ALWAYS wear on our sailboat and when we're hiking. The back of the hat is just a flap of fabric, which means it doesn't rub against your backpack. This hat works perfectly to keep the UV off your face!

    Shop on REI.com
  2. A Face Buff

    A windy day of sailing out on the San Francisco Bay always leaves my skin red and chapped. I found that wearing a buff over my face is an easy solution to this problem! I love how warm I feel with the buff covering my cheeks and nose while we’re out sailing.

    Now that we're mostly sailing in Mexico, I use this buff to keep sun off my face as well.

    This is a sailboat must-have for anyone with sensitive skin.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  3. Sun Shirt

    Both Tom and I have several different sunshirts we wear on our sailboat. I like the Columbia brand as they are lightweight and button up really high up to the next. Paired with a sunhat and some good sunscreen, I'm good to go for life on the water.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  4. Merino Wool Top

    Wool is excellent for life on a sailboat. It keeps you warm, even when wet! We both own several Merino wool base layers, both shirts and pants. Wool is also excellent for layering. Just throw a puffy over and you'll be warm even in the windiest of conditions.

    Shop on REI
  5. Women's Lightweight Raincoat

    When sailing with just a light spray, we opt for a raincoat rather than our full foul-weather gear. Raincoats are also great as a windbreaker and for warmer sailing climates.

    Shop on REI.com
  6. Swim Leggings

    Swim leggings like these help prevent sunburn if you're doing a lot of swimming in tropical climates. They are also great for paddleboarding and kayaking!

    Shop on Amazon.com
  7. Rash Guard

    Along with wearing long swim pants when on our sailboat in Mexico, I pair it with a long-sleeved rash guard. I like to keep my skin as protected as possible in the intense UV south of the border.

    Shop on Amazon.com

Sailboat Accessories for Outdoors

man and woman sailing on a boat in the sea of cortez
hanging out on our boat in the Sea of Cortez

Here are the items we can’t live without when lounging on the stern of our sailboat or hiking on land.

  1. Osprey Ultralight Packable Day Pack

    This backpack folds down to nothing so it super easy to store, but it carries enough for a day hike or jaunt into town. Easily fits a water bottle and layers. Don't expect any true support though as this pack is flimsy.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  2. USB Powered Headlamp

    I just love my USB-powered headlamp. It lasts for weeks on one charge, and it's SO NICE not having to deal with batteries. I can't imaging going back to a battery-powered headlamp now. Plus we love that it has a red setting for low light situations. Highly recommend!

    Shop on REI
  3. Nocs Provisions Compact Binoculars

    I'm totally in love with these lightweight, waterproof binoculars. They are small, rugged and easy to throw into a backpack for a day hike. The color and clarity are also outstanding - plus the image is way more stable than our other binoculars of a similar size. If you're looking for compact binoculars, these are the ones we use and recommend.

    Buy on NocsProvisions.com
  4. Snorkel Set

    We go snorkeling every chance we can get in the Sea of Cortez. There should always be enough masks, fins and snorkels for everyone on board.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  5. Exercise Bands

    We love using exercise bands as a way to get a little resistance training while on our sailboat. We first discovered these as an option while sailing the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, and really enjoy the range of movements we can do with them.

    They are also easy to attach on anchor points all over the sailboat. Sometimes, we'd sail along at 1-2 knots using these bands, enjoying a sunny afternoon.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  6. Yoga Mat

    A yoga mat is essential for both my sailboat and my campervan. I love doing yoga any chance I can get. Luckily, the mat fits both on our back stern and inside in the salon! Maybe someday I will find other cruisers and do yoga on the beach.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  7. Luci Lantern

    This Luci lantern has come in handy on more than one occasion. It's great for lighting up our stern at night when friends are over, and we also tie it off the bow so dinghies and pangas can see our boat in highly congested areas. We also love that it charges out in the sun!

    Shop on Amazon.com

The Best Sailboat Accessories for the Galley

woman holding gosun solar oven cooking tray with bread inside

I spend a lot of time in my sailboat’s galley, so these boat items are really important to me. Here are my favorites!

  1. All-Clad Precision Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

    My All-Clad pressure cooker is one of my very favorite things I use in my nomadic lifestyle. We only keep TWO POTS in our van, which is why I chose such a durable and high-quality pressure cooker. This one has different settings for whatever food you're trying to prepare, and a timer that ensures you're pressure cooking is on par. This goes above and beyond other pressure cookers I've tried for both van life and my sailboat adventures.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  2. Immersion Blender with Food Processor and Whisk

    I love that immersion blenders can do so much these days. This immersion blender also powers a whisk and a food processor, perfect for life on a sailboat.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  3. GOSUN Fusion Solar Oven

    I use this oven constantly on my sailboat. It's excellent for hot temperatures when we don't want to add heat to the galley. I've used the GoSun solar oven to make bread, stuffed bell peppers, gnocchi, banana bread, stir fries, and more. You can read my entire review here.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  4. Wide Mouth Mason Jars

    I'm obsessed with mason jars for our life on the sailboat. I have a variety of sizes, and use them for overnight oats, salsas, soup storage, and more. Separate plastic lids are easier to use than the normal metal lids, which rust in the salt water.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  5. Odor-Free Dishcloths

    These handy scrubbies aren't gross like sponges. They are paper-thin, which means they dry quickly after each use. They are easy to hang from a portlight or hook to dry, and they have enough roughness to scrub our dishes thoroughly.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  6. Collapsible Colanders

    Anything collapsible is good when you're living in a tiny space, right? We have several of these collapsible colanders in our sailboat galley. I also use them to proof my sourdough bread by lying a tea towel down.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  7. Staub Cast Iron Griddle

    We love our cast iron griddle both as a sailboat accessory and for using in our campervan. It's fun to spread it across our two burners, making eggs and hashbrowns, grilled cheese sandwiches, or pancakes.

    Check Price

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

What would you all do this list?

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15 Comments

  1. Popeye kahn says:

    “Boat shoes are not necessary on a sailboat”?! Very bad advice. It is SO easy to hurt your feet on a sailboat that no one by a complete novice would make the mistake of not wearing them!

    1. Interesting. My boyfriend has been sailing and cruising since 2001 and goes barefoot and has never had an issue. Just out of curiosity….how do people hurt their feet on a sailboat?

      1. you might step on a troll. they are very prickly!

      2. I was at the helm on someone else’s sailboat durling a bad storm, I turn around to check my bearings, when my big toe slide into an uncovered drain hole in the cockpit. Before I could get my toe out, we were hit by a big wave, thus braking most of my right foot.

        1. Oh my gosh, that is terrible! I think I’d wear shoes on someone else’s boat. My own boat I know where all the dangers are so far 🙂

    2. It is must for protect your foot finger.

    3. Denise Dunn says:

      Hi Kristin,
      I greatly admire how you live your life!!

  2. Lori russell says:

    My must have is my French coffee press. It is stainless and indestructible. I think it’s my husbands favorite too because without it, mornings would be tough. I agree on the shoes. I go barefoot all the time but my husband / first mate always wears his sperrys on deck while we are underway. His feet slip on the decks and almost lost him a few times.

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  7. Bethany Birchridge says:

    I never took into account that you should have a respirator, as it will help you for dealing with projects on your boat. I’ve been thinking about getting a boat, so these are some very helpful tips. I’ll be sure to make sure I have these boat accessories if I get a boat.

    1. Chris Herrnberger says:

      Why an AC unit and all the associated electrical? Get a windvscoop instead for the for hatch. Redirects the slightest wind below decks. Try to keep the electrical as simple as possible.

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  10. Oh my God this is Buzzfeed for boats.

  11. George B. says:

    Have you heard of NAS (Network Attached Storage)?
    Instead of having to deal with storing physical disks or keeping track of files on separate physical memory units (USBs/External Hard Disks), you can have one large and centralized location for all your media files. The main advantage of this is being able to stream hundreds of thousands of digitally stored media (pictures, movies, tv shows, audiobooks, music, etc…) to your phones, laptops and TV through the use of a streaming app (ex: PLEX).

  12. What happened to Number 4? Did the seller revoke his sponsorship agreement?

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      Ah, good catch! I guess I need to work on my counting, lol. No sponsorship agreements in this post!

  13. Robert Hogward says:

    Having a good carpet will make your boat more pleasing to the eye and also safer when traveling on it. I think they are useful to every boat.

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