We are always looking for ways to improve life on the boat or make it a little bit more convenient. The items below are things that we’ve found that have been useful for us – and they cover a broad spectrum of areas from the galley to safety and then some! The majority are on Amazon and links are included within the descriptions. If you click-through and order one of these products, we’ll get a tiny little credit – thank you, our sailing kitty purrs with appreciation at any support it can get!
For each item not available on Amazon, we will reference where we found the item.
Galley Gear and other Fun Stuff
We both happen to love grapefruit but my mothers way of cutting the grapefruit in half and then dissecting each section as well as the outer perimeter it a pain in the butt! Why it took us so long to find out there are spoons specifically designed for grapefruit, I’ll never know! This particular spoon comes as a set of four for a very reasonable price.
When I first bought the Platy Preserve, Dan thought it was a waste of money. However, these little bags have proven their worth in providing unbreakable leak-proof storage for half-empty wine bottles and for filling from a wine box when you want to take some wine ashore or over to another boat. They each hold 800 ml and fit easily into the reefer or cooler to chill down. We even have one storing balsamic vinegar as we didn’t want a large glass bottle onboard. After use, we rinse them out well with hot water. They’ve been in regular use for four years and are going strong.
Pretty much everytime we check out at a grocery store we are asked where we got our reusable produce bags. Rather than use plastic bags, we found these at a Coop and paid a ridiculous price for them. Now you can find them on Amazon for considerably less and there are numerous options from mesh to canvas. We like the mesh bags as they are easier to wash.
Trying to be considerate to the environment, Dan bought me reusable straws as I prefer to use a straw when there’s ice in a glass. First it was some colorful BPA-free plastic straws that we’ve been using for years and more recently, some fancy stainless straws. There fun, practical and they won’t break the bank!
If you’re going to use fancy straws, then you absolutely have to have an umbrella in your drink. Unfortunately paper umbrellas are not reusable and get smashed (sorry, really bad pun!) on the boat. We found these little gems and now I will always be able to have a little umbrelly in my drink!
I have multiple water bottles but I wanted one that didn’t take a lot of space for my trip to the Sea of Cortez. I found this 21 ounce collapsible water bottle and it turned out to be perfect. When not in use, I carried it in my bag and then filled it once past airport security (did you know some airports now have water refill stations?) The bottle got tossed around the cockpit on the trip and I never had to worry about it leaking or breaking. It comes in a variety of colors.
We purchased the Lunatec Aquabot Sprayer Top to modify an existing water bottle that we weren’t using. Our intention was to use it for rinsing dishes as a way of conserving our fresh water reserves. It works great for that but we also found it very useful when cleaning the cockpit for blasting dirt out of small crevices behind the dodger, in tight corners and such. You can also buy the Aquabot Sprayer with a bottle.
You’re going to see a trend here with collapsible items; they work exceedingly well in small spaces such as boats and condos where storage space is at a premium. Dan was skeptical about this teapot but once he started using it, he realized its genius. Unlike other collapsible teapots available, the handle on this one swivels down making it more compact than others. You do need to make sure your flame is not too high on the burner. Other colors are available if lime green does not boil your water.
Gaviidae has only one sink–a circumstance Dan would change in a minute if he had that option. But he doesn’t, so finding something that would serve the purpose was needed. We found this collapsible dish tub on Amazon; ours is aqua and white. We’ve used it for rinsing dishes, laundry, general catch-all, etc. And when it is not in use it collapses down and fits under the galley sink.
And what would a collapsible dish tub do without a collapsible dish rack? It would be lonely and sad! This is actually our second dish rack. A folding rack we got at West Marine served its purpose on Blue Loon, but it was too small for Gaviidae. We also purchased a drain pan to put under this.
Bowls take up a lot of space but are necessary for mixing, marinating, etc. We found this collapsible bowl set with lids and use them all the time. I would not trust the lids to stay on if they get tossed into the reefer upside down or sideways (we’ve not had any come off, but they have never been through a dishwashing machine).
Yet another collapsible bowl and this one gets used more than any other. It’s large enough (5 qt) for Dan to mix up veggies for grilling (and keep the oil and seasonings contained within the bowl). We also use it to serve pasta dishes or salads when we have company.
We have a microwave/convection/toaster oven onboard, which we can only use when connected to shorepower. When we do use the microwave, it helps to have a splatter screen over the food to keep things from exploding all over the interior. And of course we found a collapsible microwave cover!
After reading about dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, I thought we should try some on the boat. We initially purchased freeze-dried corn and freeze-dried mushrooms from Mother Earth Products via Amazon. Both were excellent. Update: also love the freeze-dried mangoes, freeze-dried raspberries (amazing flavor when added to yogurt), freeze-dried peas, dried tomato dices and freeze-dried red bell peppers. The flavors have been impressive (big) and there’s no empty cans to deal with afterwards. We’ve actually started buying the items in bags rather than the plastic containers.
When our previous camp-style toaster rusted out, we purchased this GSI stainless steel toaster. While it only does one slice at a time, it’s very fast, easy to clean and folds flat– taking virtually no space. It also comes with a storage pouch.
While Dan drinks tea every morning, I love my coffee and I like it strong. Upon recommendation of a coffee connoisseur I once worked with, I purchased an AeroPress. I love it. I mean I LOVE IT. If you follow the directions, it’s simple to use and extremely easy to clean (virtually self-cleaning). It uses one tiny paper filter so there is minimal waste.
I realized part way through our first full sailing season onboard that we didn’t have much in the way of baking pans. Not that we need many but when you’re trying to figure out what to do with 3 cups of blueberries having a cake pan or any type of bakeware can be helpful. But bakeware takes a lot of space. While in Toronto I used my sister’s silicone bread pan – issue solved as they squish and can be tucked into small spaces. My first purchase was a silicone bundt pan which I used recently to make a kick-ass rum (Rhum!) cake. Note: when using silicone bakeware, you need to put it on a cookie sheet for stability when putting it in or removing from the oven.
I really don’t like carrying a purse but sometimes you need something small to carry the iPhone, boat keys, or wallet. I’ve had the same black leather travel purse for 10 years but it doesn’t fair very well in the dinghy. Recently Mantus Anchors introduced a small waterproof purse. And it floats. Why is an anchor company selling a purse? Well they also happen to be big into diving. Perfect. Click here for the Mantus Waterproof Purse.
We’ve tried numerous quick dry towels – PackTowel from REI, Aquus, etc. All I can say for those is they do a really good job of moving water around but a lousy job of actually drying. Then I tried a Turkish towel from Marmara Imports. What a difference! At first glance, they seem quite thin but thickness does not always translate to good absorbtion. And they dry amazingly fast, much quicker than the microfiber towels. Trick here is to soak them for 24 hours before the first use. Click here for Marmara Imports.
I’ve read a lot of stories on the Women Who Sail page regarding the boat yoga required for making a bed on a boat, especially in aft cabins. I’ve never been big into making beds, always seemed like a waste of time. So Dan and I adopted the European method of using a bottom sheet only and a duvet. I thought this would also work on the boat but it would still require wresting with the bottom sheet. Then I came across Welcome Aboard’s Sleep System. I would put this right up there with one of the top conveniences that we have onboard. Using a set of queen-size flat sheets, I made a second set of sheet inserts. Click here for the Sleep System.
Luci Lights! One of our favorite things on the boat. They are inflatable (will float) LED lanterns powered by solar-charged batteries. Made by mPowerd, they come in a variety of choices/prices from clear to colored and include a strap handle for hanging or just securing to the boat. We had one colored Luci Light (can be one color or rotating colors) and used it to light the cockpit when we were away from the boat. It was also useful when we were having charging issues and were trying to conserve power. When not in use, they can be collapsed down to about one inch! They are available from Amazon but occasionally mPowerd has specials for multiple purchases, such as free shipping and one clear Luci for free.
We came across Nite Ize Gear Ties at a chandlery in Seattle. They seemed like they might have a purpose but at the time, we weren’t really sure what that would be. Well we bought some, and then we bought some more. We now have Gear Ties in lengths from 2″ to 32″ and they are used as cable ties for iPhone charging cables, securing boat hooks to the boat when underway, attaching the Luci lights in the cockpit, etc. We found so many uses that we had to buy more! They are available in numerous lengths and colors.
Also purchased at the chandlery in Seattle was a Nite Ize Gear Line. We use these for storing our sailing gloves, sunglasses, hats and anything else that we need handy on a regular basis.
We actually found these Modgy Luminary Lanterns in a little store in Bayfield, ON but they are also available on Amazon. They are perfect for a boat as they fold flat when not in use and they come with small LED candlelights that are activated by water. You simply add H2O to the bag, drop the tealight in and voila — instant ambiance! They are available in a variety of colors/patterns.
Like the Luminary Lanterns, we also found this Modgy Vase in Bayfield. While fresh flowers and sailing don’t generally mix, occasionally we’ve been in a place long enough that I wanted something to put flowers in. As I got this at the end of the season, I’ve not yet tried it but if it works as well as the lanterns, it will be great. It’s also available in numerous colors/patterns.
We have a large hanging locker but decided we needed more shelf space. We found this three-shelf hanging organizer and bought two. Made from breathable canvas with rigid flat shelves, they’re still holding up well after three seasons on the Great Lakes. These hanging organizers are perfect for clothes, towels, and for use by our occasional guests. And they collapse down flat when not in use–the hanging organizers, not the guests! The idea of collapsible guests is too disturbing to contemplate.
Okay, putting a laundry basket under Fun Stuff might be pushing it but I don’t have a better place at this point! We actually bought two of these when we first moved into the condo many years ago where we were also lacking for storage space. They’ve proven their worth and we frequently get asked when doing laundry at a marina where we found them. They fold flat and take up very little space when not being used to lug laundry back and forth.
When sailing in the Sea of Cortez I met some liveaboards who swore by the benefits of turmeric. Dan had also been reading about it and we decided to add it to our dietary supplements – and when we remember to take them on a regular basis, my shoulder and knees feel much better.