Creature Comforts Living Aboard a Boat

15 Things That Make Life On The Water Easier (For Us)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Now that our cruising season has officially ended, I’m excited to get back to blogging about things other than destinations; and what better topic than some of the products that make our lives a little bit easier and more comfortable on the water.  But I can’t claim the idea:  It comes from The Monkey Fist website where you can find posts from other cruisers on this subject, and hundreds other. 

So, without further ado, here’s our list of 15 things that make our lives more enjoyable (in no particular order):
1.  Satellite Radio:  We never thought we’d actually pay for radio, but it’s turned out to be one of our favourite sources of entertainment on the boat.  Sure.  We have an iPod full of thousands of songs, but most of the time we prefer to leave the DJing to the professionals.  It’s a great way for me to get my daily news fix (much to David’s chagrin) or just kickback in the cockpit watching the sun go down while the sound of electric blues fills the air.  And because we’re currently cruising the Pacific Northwest, we have service whether we’re anchored in some of the world’s largest cities or in the remote wilderness – all without commercial interruption or channel surfing!  It’s also flexible enough to meet the demands of our lifestyle:  We can cancel coverage any time we like without paying a penalty and start it back up just as easily.
2.  Heated Mattress Pad:  I know what you’re thinking.  But in this damp climate, it’s a godsend.  On cold, rainy days when we have to run the generator, we plug in the mattress pad and heat it up.  We may not go to bed until hours later, but when we do, it's still warm and dry. 
3.  Hydronic Heating System:  The first thing David did when we arrived in the PNW five years ago was have a heating system installed.   Even during the height of the summer, mornings can be cold up here and a little heat circulating through the boat helps keep things warm and dry.  In addition to making life more comfortable aboard, it has the added bonus of extending the length of our cruising season into the spring and fall. 
4.  A Good Camera:  Cruising in one of the world’s most beautiful areas (if not the most beautiful) requires a good camera.  For us, it's the Pentax K-5 Digital SLR. 
5.  An Everyday Camera:  There are just some places where it’s not practical to bring an expensive SLR and that’s where our everyday cameras come in.  We have a small Panasonic Lumix (DMC-TZ3) that we can just throw in our pocket without fear of losing or getting wet.  And a more advanced Lumix Superzoom (DMC-FZ150) that’s larger in size but still lightweight and more portable than the SLR.  Neither one is water resistant (which would be an excellent feature) but were chosen for the quality of their lenses (Leica). 
6.  iPad with RAM Mount:  From e-books to weather data to chart plotting, the iPad has turned into one of the most useful tools we have aboard.  AND it makes life easier. 
7.  Library Card:  On the water?  Absolutely.  Especially if your library has an electronic collection.  You can be thousands of miles away and still check out the latest e-books or audio-books.  Just like a regular library loan, it only stays on your iPad or Kindle for a few weeks, but it’s a great way to expand your reading list without additional costs.
8.  Dustbuster:  With a dog aboard who sheds A LOT, daily shore trips into rainforests, and two smokers aboard (I know, I know) our little Dustbuster manages to keep the boat clean all season.
9.  Folding Dock Cart:  On those long walks to the grocery store or laundromat (even not so long ones), the dock cart makes the job easier and doesn’t take up much space. 
10. Sonic Toothbrush:  Regular visits to the dentist aren’t always possible, especially in the US where it can take months to get an appointment for a cleaning.  Our Sonic Toothbrush helps see us through those (sometimes) long periods without professional care.
11. No-Spill Dog Dishes:  Sally may be beautiful, but she’s no delicate flower and makes a real mess when slopping up water from an ordinary bowl.  These doggy dishes keep water off the floor and out of the bilge. 
12. Inflatable Kayaks:  Clear decks are important to us and inflatables allow us to have all the toys we want without cluttering them up.  They’re also more stable in the water and easier to get in and out of from the transom of a boat.  They’re not as efficient through the water, but we’re going nowhere fast and don’t mind a bit. 
13. Microfibre Sponges:  This is sort of a silly one but they really have made my life easier.  Not only are they washable (and therefore reusable), they do a GREAT job of getting crumbs out around fiddles. 
14. Electric Fly Swatter:  When you cruise the wilderness, the bugs can be BIG and plentiful, and we often find ourselves in deer (or horse) fly territory.  Even if we close up the boat, they find their way in and aren’t detracted by mere bug spray, so electric fly swatters are our only defense against these pesky creatures that bite through jeans.  Besides, they provide hours of entertainment for David (who has already broke two of them in over-zealous attempts to protect his woman). 
15. Indoor Hobbies:  It’s been known to rain a time or two in the Pacific Northwest and being able to stave off cabin fever is vital, so we both have several portable hobbies.  David’s favourite is music.  He can play just about anything you put in front of him and has two guitars aboard (an acoustic and an electric) which come in handy for beach gatherings, music festivals or just passing the time.  For me it’s knitting.  I learned how to knit when we first arrived in the Pacific Northwest and have been addicted ever since.  Not only is it compact, it’s practical and passes hours of the day in the blink of an eye.

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