Outfitting a sailboat for long-term cruising can seem like an overwhelming task. With so many things to consider, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re serious about cruising and want peace of mind in knowing you have all the most important things onboard. Here are 10 essential items for outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising that no sailor should be without.
The first and most important item on the list is a quality anchor and chain. A good anchor is essential for sleeping well at anchor, and it’s important that it is strong enough to hold in a variety of conditions. I recommend going with an anchor that resets itself easily with a wind shift like a Mantus or Rocna. A quality chain with the right amount of scope will also help to ensure that your anchor stays firmly in place. When possible, it’s best to use a ratio of 7:1 scope, which means for every foot of water depth, you should have 7 feet of chain out. This will help to ensure that your anchor sets properly and won’t drag in changing conditions.
2. Furling Headsail
Next, a furling headsail is a must for many when cruising long term. This versatile sail that can be unfurled and furled from within the cockpit, making it easier to adjust sail trim in changing wind conditions. This is especially useful when sailing short-handed in more challenging conditions.
A watermaker is also an important item for comfortable long-term cruising. A watermaker will enable you to turn salt water into fresh water, which can be used for bathing, washing dishes, and drinking. This can also be a lifesaver during long passages when you’re running low on fresh water. It’s a great alternative to lugging your water by dingy but for longer times away from civilization the watermaker is absolutely needed. We do not have one on board currently but it is high on our list of upgrades to get.
Having a quality dinghy and reliable outboard motor is just as important as outfitting your sailboat. A dinghy and outboard are useful for getting to and from shore, as well as for exploring shallow waters that your boat may not be able to access. It replaces your car at home and we all know just how important a vehicle can be with no access to public transit. Groceries, water (without a watermaker), fuel, adventure, are just a few examples of things we use a dinghy on a daily basis. It can even be used to propel your vessel during an engine failure, surprisingly well i might add.
Sails and a sail repair kit are also essential for outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising. Sails are needed for powering your boat in different conditions, and a sail repair kit is useful for making quick repairs at sea. It’s important to have a variety of sails onboard, from storm sails to light air sails, and a selection of sail repair materials such as sail tape, webbing, and thread. Additionally, it’s important to understand the basics of sail repair and maintenance so that you can make the necessary repairs when needed. Having the right sails and a sail repair kit onboard will help you make the most of your time out on the water.
6. Navigation Equipment
Navigation and communication equipment are also essential for outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising. Navigation equipment is for planning and executing passages, while communication equipment is needed for staying in contact with other vessels, marinas, and land-based services. A tablet with your favourite charting app paired with a VHF radio is how we accomplish this.
7. Solar Panels / Wind Generator
Solar panels and/or a wind generator are also essential for outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising. These can be used to generate power for running electrical equipment and charging batteries, removing the need to go to an expensive dock to plug into shore power. Additionally, solar panels and wind generators can be useful for generating enough power to run a fridge and other appliances, allowing you to be more self-sufficient and reduce your reliance on external sources of power. When choosing solar panels and/or a wind generator, it’s important to consider the type and amount of power that you need, as well as the size of the panels or generator that will fit on board your boat.
8. Spare Parts
Spare parts and tools for maintenance are essential for keeping your sailboat going during a long term cruise . Having spare parts and tools onboard can be a lifesaver if you find yourself in need of a repair while at sea. It’s important to have a variety of spare parts and maintenance tools, from basic hand tools to specialised equipment for more complex repairs. Additionally, it’s important to understand the basics of sailboat maintenance such as inspecting the rigging, servicing the engine, or just putting down a fresh coat of paint. Having a good understanding of how to maintain your vessel can help you make the most of your time at sea.
9. Emergency Supplies
Additionally, emergency supplies such as life jackets, flares, a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher are essential for ensuring your safety and security while underway. Depending on the size of your vessel and home port, you will require different amounts of supplies. A well-stocked first aid kit is especially important for providing basic medical care when needed, these supplies may just save your life in an emergency.
10. Mask and Snorkel
Finally, a mask and snorkel can be invaluable for a sailor outfitting their sailboat for long-term cruising. This one almost didn’t make it on the list but considering how useful it is I would never be without one. A mask and snorkel can be used to un-foul an anchor or chain, clear a jammed thru-hull, clean the hull of your boat, clear a tangled prop, or even catch yourself some dinner! A mask and snorkel can also be used for recreational activities such as exploring shallow waters, snorkelling, and experiencing the beautiful world below the surface. Additionally, a mask and snorkel can be a great way to cool off and relax while at anchor.
Outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising can be a daunting task, but having the right items onboard can make a huge difference in your comfort and safety at sea. Quality anchor and chain, furling headsail, watermaker, dinghy and outboard motor, sails and sail repair kit, navigation and communication equipment, solar panels and/or wind generator, spare parts and tools for maintenance, and a first aid kit are all essential items for outfitting your sailboat for long-term cruising. By having these items onboard and understanding the basics of sailboat maintenance, you can ensure that your vessel is well-prepared for any situation that may arise and make the most of your time out on the water.
Cory and Alex share their adventure with weekly videos on their YouTube channel “Wildly Intrepid Sailing” and share stories on their website www.wildlyintrepid.com . Their dream is to travel the world and to live without any regrets.