Best Boat Equipment for liveaboards.
Some gear you need on your boat
One of the questions we are often asked aboard Cygnus III is “what is the best boat equipment needed to sail around the world”? Obviously a boat that floats is a good start but what other things do you need?
We are now into our 6th year of livingaboard Cygnus III and have become experts at getting things wrong so I thought we would try and show some the best boat equipment and accessories we got right. It is not an exhaustive list and I may well do another blog but here are just a few items that have made our lives easier and safer.
What is the best boat equipment to have?
I knew that the boat anchor was too heavy
We spend the vast majority of our sailing season in anchorages so having a good anchor is a top priority. We actually have three anchors but the one we use all the time is a Manson Supreme boat anchor. When I go to bed I am like sleeping beauty. The only thing that would wake me up is some hairy arsed bloke trying to kiss me whilst claiming he is a Prince. I need to know that when I do wake up Cygnus III is going to be where we left her and not washed up on a beach or drifting towards Outer Mongolia. I wonder if anchors ever get tattoos of sailors?
Although the Russians won’t admit it publicly, Chernobyl suffered a few minor hiccups. This happened when a couple of boats hooked up to its power grid. You see, today’s boats need power. When I say power I don’t mean a couple of “AA” batteries but enough power to make them glow in the dark. There is so much electrical equipment on a modern cruising boat you really need something special to charge the batteries. You could have an internal or external generator or extra alternators but this means running your engine. As Cygnus III is a sail boat we don’t want this. You could fit a wind generator but everyone we have spoken to says they are not worth the money. The best thinking at the moment is to fit a stern arch and put as many solar panels up there as you can. The only other alternative is to do what we did. Buy Chernobyl and tow it behind you!
We drink from our water tanks on Cygnus III via a Seagull IV water filter and have never had any problems what so ever. Drinking the water direct from the tank without the filter tastes a bit like licking an aerobics instructors armpit (Don’t ask me how I know). With the Seagull it is like drinking cold water from a highland spring on a summers day. One of our best buys ever.
Our dinghy really flies along
The dinghy is our equivalent of the family car. Without it we would be lost as we spend so much of our time at anchor. We have a big brute of an engine which can rip the skin off your face on full throttle but because it is so heavy it is an absolute pain to get on and off. If I had a choice I would have two outboards, the one we have got and a small very light one for quick journeys. Some of my favourite moments though are spent watching my wife, Angelina getting in and out of the dinghy. She literally dives in and out often knocking someone else overboard or ending up with her face buried deep in their crutch! Before you ask, no you cannot come in our dinghy!
We have visited so many wonderful places that need a really good camera to do them justice. I have a large camera that needs several camels and a Bedouin tribe to carry it when we go out. Because of this we don’t often take it and have really missed out. Given the choice again I would take a small compact camera with video capability.
Chart Plotter at Helm.
Having the chart plotter with AIS and radar overlays at the helm of Cygnus III was one of the best boat equipment upgrades we made. We can see at a glance exactly where we are and what we are going to hit next. It has saved us so many journeys’ ashore just to ask where we are. The one thing I do regret is only having the AIS receiver rather than the transponder. On more than one occasion we have had to make some radical manoeuvres because big ships want to ram our yacht for some reason.
Angelina and the sub woofers
This year our music radio followed me and developed a bad case of Alzheimer’s. The CD stopped working and the radio would turn itself off for no apparent reason. We usually have the local music station on all the time as it helps with learning the language. Car stereos do work but in the marine environment they don’t last too long. Luckily we were able to get an old stereo from another boat who was upgrading theirs.
This is a must for winters on board. For some reason I seem to do a lot of heavy breathing which causes things to get moist. No one likes sleeping in the damp patch so a good dehumidifier helps dry the whole boat out.
Obviously this does not apply to the UK or sailing at night but elsewhere good quality sunglasses are a must have item either on Cygnus III or ashore. Polarised glasses are excellent but on the downside they make digital instrument readouts impossible to see. Unfortunately this year my best pair decided to go scuba diving in several thousand fathoms. I am now wearing an old pair I bought 18 years ago and being hunted by the fashion Police.
Angelina the Admiral with the Nice Rear.
This is the condensed version
Everyone should have an Angelina or “Ang” aboard. Without doubt she is the best bit of boating equipment ever and we would not survive without her. She is multi functional with very complicated programming I cannot start to fathom. Then again, I am only on the first chapter of the operating manual. Apparently some versions come with built in flotation devices already installed. My version has worked for years without once letting me down although they do need to be serviced on a regular basis. This can be done quite easily without having to return them to the manufacturer. Others I know of are on their second or third unit due to what they call faults but often it is the operator’s failure to understand the equipment. Before you ask I would never change or update my “Ang” for anything.
A Tale of Two Companies.
During this year we had problems with a few things on Cygnus III. One is the semi-flexible solar panels and the other is the music radio. I just want to relate two stories about these and see which company you would go to.
The Worst Company we have Dealt With.
As I mentioned above power on Cygnus III is one of our major concerns. During this year we noticed that our semi-flexible solar panels had big blisters and were only working for an hour in the morning. I contacted the company who made them (GB Sol). I spoke to the office manager who answered my numerous e-mails and told me they do not offer any advice for individual instillation’s. They would not help in trying to identify my problem and did not appear to want to know about the blisters. They did offer to replace the panels at cost plus VAT and carriage to Italy. This worked out at a small fortune we could not afford. More importantly I refuse to pay for new panels, VAT and carriage twice on products that fail miserably and the manufacture gives no useful help or customer service.
The Best Chandlers we have Dealt With.
Some time ago I came across a marine chandlers called Cactus. They were advertising a job at their company. What was so refreshing was that they wanted a young person with no prior experience who liked fixing things such as pedal cycles. They did not want a PHD in brain surgery or even references from high court judges. They just wanted someone with enthusiasm who they were willing to teach and even pay for their further education. I was so impressed I wrote to Cactus to let them know. In return I got a long friendly e-mail back from the owner, Andrew Smyth, explaining that is how he started in the business and how he believed in putting employees and customers first. Recently our music radio broke so I searched for a particular brand and found that Cactus was the cheapest by quiet a way. I thought I would chance my arm a little and see if I could get a larger discount. Andrew again wrote back personally explaining the companies policy on discounted items and being “basket cases” we did not qualify. He did however offer us a large discount on a show model but even so we could not afford it. This is how a company should behave. They are honest, friendly and above all believe in trying to help.
So Mr Company directors, please think about your policy to us poor customers. Of these two companies one I would never touch with a barge pole and the other will be first on my list. I bet you cannot guess which is which?
We have never received sponsorship, free or discounted items from any of the companies mentioned although we would be more than happy to do so. (Except GB Sol)
What is your best boat equipment?
So that is the Cygnus III list of some of the best boat equipment. If you want to know more just message us or why not leave a comment below as we really enjoy hearing from you. If you enjoyed the blog then please share it. Also let us and others know just what your best boat equipment is?