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Thinking about taking your boat cruising? Whether your plans are finite or open-ended, coastal or transoceanic, here is a collection of proven tips to apply to your onboard life. Clothes on hangers will chafe amazingly fast. They rub against each other as they move with the boat, and the cloth will wear through. If you take on the cruising life permanently, you won't be needing hanging clothes anyway! So consider converting hanging lockers to shelved storage. You will be able to stow a lot of stuff in the space formerly taken up by dress shirts! Demand multiple functions in your gear as much as possible. For example, a recent model computer can double as DVD viewer, and perhaps even as a sound system. Needlenose pliers make a great pointing tool for using a chart in the cockpit; use it to point at your location so you don't have to keep trying to find your place every time you look down. And your cordless drill might be able to double as a portable mixer! If you are a certified diver, keep a small SCUBA tank strapped to one of the old time backpacks lashed on deck. Keep a mask/snorkel, weight belt, and regulator within easy reach (and out of the elements), and you can be over the side in minutes. Put thought into entertainment and provision accordingly. Are you a music lover? Install a good sound system (inside and out) and stock up on your favorite CDs. Music player? Bring along your instrument(s). DVDs stow easier than video tapes (and last better); stock your favorite movies, and you will find folks who will swap with you for the evening. Bring a store of recreational reading, and you can swap as you go with other cruisers and at marina lending libraries. For tropical and summer cruising, mount one or more 12-volt fans on teak pads and rig with 12volt plugs so that you can have REALLY movable air! Have some special stuff on board. Do you have special pair of wine glasses, some nice throw pillows, or a handmade throw rug or quilt? Include meaningful furnishings on the boat to really make it YOUR living space. Keep key tools within easy reach. Is there one or more resident of the toolbox that you find you use a lot? If so, give it a home in the cabin where it can be accessed easily. My most frequent tools are a small crescent wrench and medium size Phillips screwdriver. These two items are now bungeed to the bulkhead in the nav area, where they are easy to grab and easy to stow. Bypass the jeans. Denim cloth doesn't like a marine environment. It takes ages to dry, and, if washed in sea water, tends to retain salt crystals in the cloth which can accelerate mildewing and be uncomfortable against the skin. Stick with slacks and shorts made of cotton or lightweight
blends. Have some form of 110v power on board, no matter how simple your electrical system is. Even if you don't have a big built-in inverter/charger to provide 110v power, stock at least a small inverter unit with 12-volt plug. Do this even if you don't initially start out with 110v gear - chances are you will either buy or borrow something in the course of your cruise that needs the 110v power. Finally, you can never have too many zip lock bags, electrical ties or bungee cords. It's amazing how many uses these three things can be put to. Take different sizes of zip locking bags, and recycle them by washing and hanging out to dry. All sizes of electrical ties come in handy for more than just electrical wire; they can be used to secure a lot of different things around the boat. And bungee cords-pre-made lengths with hooks on the end as well as rolls of cord that can be "cut to order-have applications all over the boat. Take hog rings, hooks, and hog ring pliers along so you can make your own as you go.
Trish Lambert ( http://www.successinsweatpants.net ) has been a cruising sailor for over twentyfive years and a first mate three times, with three different skippers and three very different cruising styles. She knows first hand what makes cruising successful, and what she has to share may surprise you! Whether you are a skipper or first mate, a singlehander or part of a cruising couple, sail boater or power boater, Trish has insights that will help make your cruising dream a reality.
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