essential items for sailboat living

Sailboat Essentials List

Living on a sailboat requires good use of space, and that often means being very, very careful about what items you bring with you. However, there are some sailboat essentials that I recommend buying.

Planning ahead is important when living on a boat, and you should have everything in order before setting off. For starters, depending on where you are, it might be difficult (or very expensive) to get things. So, do yourself a favor and make a list! Here’s mine.

Handheld vaccuum

While your new sailboat house will be small, it won’t necessarily be easier to clean. For starters, sand and salt get into everything on the water, and you’ll be constantly trying to keep it out.

How long do you spend vacuuming sand out of your car after a trip to the beach? Now multiply that by about a hundred, and then pick yourself up a good handheld vacuum like this one to save your sanity.

I would not recommend getting a larger one as space on a boat is at a premium. A handheld like this one is much easier to stow away than most other cleaning tools.

High-quality, hard-sided cooler

While your boat will most likely have a fridge, they are pretty small. After you stow away your meat, dairy, and other perishables, there won’t be much room for anything else.

Plus, every time you open the door you’re letting out precious cold air. Power and cooling are also very valuable, and you’ll want to leave it closed as much as possible to preserve your energy and keep the cold in.

Instead, I’d recommend a high-quality hard-sided cooler. I’d like to reiterate on the ‘high-quality’ point as well. Don’t go buy the cheapest one that you can find. It needs to be one that has good ice retention.

If you stow a cooler with good ice retention on a shady party of your boat it’ll keep your drinks and other items frosty for days at a time! That’s less time and money you need to spend on purchasing ice.

I prefer the Yeti brand, and if you’d like a good explanation as to why, then this website has done a pretty good job comparing a Yeti cooler to a competitor. In short though, it’s quality. Yeti will stand behind their product for longer than most other manufacturers, which I appreciate.

A watermaker

This isn’t really essential, and if you plan to spend a ton of time at ports with good water supplies then you might leave it off your life, but I think it’s a fabulous addition to sailboat living.

This amazing device allows you to make clean, fresh water anywhere. That means you can stay out to sea much longer than you could normally, and if you’re afraid of water access, it’s worth getting one I think! If you’re curious about how it works, then this wiki might help.

A tablet

This one might seem odd, but it’s actually a fantastic dual purpose device. Not only does a tablet provide access to entertainment, the ability to surf the web, check your email, and talk with loved ones all in a neat little, easy to stow package, but it also can be your navigation system!

A tablet, like an iPad, is portable. So, you can take it with you anywhere in the boat rather than being glued to your “command center”. Try the Navionics boating app for detailed charts for your travels.

Oh yeah! Your iPad also provides a major space saving feature if you enjoy books, because you can use it to hold literally thousands of books that otherwise would just not fit on your boat.

A high lumen flash light or lantern

If your power goes out for some reason, living, or worse, navigating in the dark is no fun. Make sure that your check list includes a high-quality torch or lantern with a lotta lumens.

Puny flashlights won’t do here, and you need to spring for a good one or else it’ll be useless in the pitch black. Try this high lumen spotlight meant for boating, and maybe pick up a small lantern for the cabin that you don’t have to hold as well. Though, headlamps can also be a good idea.

A satellite phone

If you’re out really far from shore, then your communication is effectively cut off. There’s no cell service and certainly no WiFi out there, and I think being prepared is very important.

In the event of an emergency, a satellite phone could save your life. This Garmin phone has global connection capabilities, and many other features. You can access maps, weather reports, activate an SOS signal, and leave a trail of your location for family and friends.

Tool box and assorted hand tools

Boats take a lot of work to maintain, and you need to be prepared before leaving the port. If you don’t already have some tools, then you’d better pick some up, and, of course, a little tool box as well. Though a tool roll is more compact and easier to store.

I’d recommend at least an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers, pliers, socket wrench set, cutting shears, wire strippers, crimping tool, and some electrical tape. Interested in seeing a full list with potential repairs? Have a look here then.

First aid kit

Don’t get caught away from shore without this. Injuries can easily happen when doing mundane activities, and you should have some supplies on hand just in case.

Build yourself a first aid kit with bandages, bactine/peroxide, OTC pain relievers, hot/cold pack, and other items you may require. Being able to bandage up minor injuries to stop bleeding is important.

Fishing gear

Fishing poles are easy to break down and stow away, and the value they provide is well worth the space. With a few lures, a couple of poles, and a bit of tackle, you could be eating fresh fish for dinner.

Plus, there’s nothing more enjoyable that fishing offshore while you watch the sunset. Don’t leave these babies at home, or you’re going to regret it, I can guarantee it.

Barbeque grill

A marine grill is an enjoyable and often pretty energy efficient way to cook. It also gives you a little freedom from having to prepare meals inside the cabin, which is often pretty cramped.

I’d recommend a nice grill, like this one that latches on to the side and stays still. You can cook your catch, or many, many other dishes in the comfort of your spacious deck. You can even get some deck-side table attachments that give you outdoor prep-space, which is pretty cool!

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