Friday’s Top Five: Non essential items I love having on board

8 03 2013

One of the most difficult things we have done while living on a boat is deciding what actually goes IN the boat. We spent many nights talking, and arguing about what items should go on the boat and what items should go in storage (aka parent’s attic). There are items that we never used and have sold or given away, and there are other items that we wish we brought on board. And there are those items that we really do not NEED but they make our lives a little sweeter by having them on board. Here they are in no particular order.

1: Bread machine. I am well aware that bread can be made with an oven (or stove top, or bbq) and some elbow grease for kneading the dough, but the bread machine makes making bread so easy! Everyone said I was crazy when they saw I was taking a bread machine on board. And I do admit, it has a few things against it: it takes up a lot of room and uses a lot of power (two major things to take into consideration when deciding what goes on or off the boat). When we first moved on the boat Capt’n said I could take one appliance on board. I thought about this difficult decision for about two weeks and I finally decided to take the bread machine. I can confidently say that I have never looked back. This summer in Brunswick Georgia I used the bread machine on a daily basis. The temperature reached the 90s and 100s there and there was no way I was cooking anything on the boat. We were staying in a marina and so I used the marina power to power my bread machine. And voila. We had yummy bread to eat every day.

2: iPad. Last winter I dropped my iPod touch in the Ashley River in Charleston South Carolina. When I found Capt’n to tell him, I nonchalantly said that he could replace my iPod touch with an iPad. In August we did purchase an iPad. I am not going to spend this time reviewing what I like and dislike about the iPad. But what I will say is how it makes our lives easier living on a boat. For one thing, we now use the iPad as a chart plotter. We purchased the Bad Elf GPS (http://bad-elf.com/products/) and charts from Navionics (http://www.navionics.com/en/mobile-pc-app). It took Capt’n and I a couple of days to wrap our heads around this new chart plotter, but all in all we are very pleased. The second reason why we enjoy the iPad so much is for storing videos. When we are sailing long passages it is difficult to keep Capt’n in Training occupied for so long. Sometimes if I run out of activities, if I am cooking, or sailing, or just need a break, I put on some videos for Capt’n in Training to watch. I will also say that when we were on our friend’s catamaran in Florida and Bahamas for two months, the iPad videos were a life saver when we were in restaurants for happy hour or dinner. The third reason why we like the iPad is the mobility of the tablet. If we are anchored and going to shore, we don’t want to carry around a laptop, but carrying around a tablet is much more convenient. We are able to check email and the weather quickly. So do we NEED an iPad? No, but we are happy to have one.

3: Kindle Paperwhite. If anyone is reading this who has known me for a long time, maybe this item is making you smile or laugh. Why? Because for a really long time I was so anti-ereaders. I could not stand them. I love books and libraries and did not understand why the ereader would be more advantageous over an actual book. I swore I would never own an ereader. Then I moved onto a boat where my books started to get moldy. Or I couldn’t remember where I stored a particular novel. Or space is so precious did I really want to fill two cupboards with books that in all honesty I probably wouldn’t get to read? Then came the iPad and I discovered that I could use it as an ereader. Then I discovered I could take out ebooks on loan from the library! I was in heaven. I loved the portability of storing books on the iPad. I found that I was reading more books than I was before I bought the iPad….but then I went to the Bahamas and tried reading outside with my iPad. It was a failure. I began to resent that the iPad was forcing to me to stay indoors in order to read. Then someone introduced me to the Kindle. I was able to read outside and with my sunglasses on! But I hated that the Kindle was not a touch screen. It was difficult to transfer from the touch screen of an iPad to the buttons of a Kindle…and then came the Kindle Paperwhite. It was like this ereader was made for me, just when I needed it! Capt’n bought it for me for Christmas and I am reading more than ever before. I max out the number of ebooks I can take out on both of my library cards. I am reading more young adult fiction than ever before! (I just finished the Lois Lowry Giver Quartet). I am now being transported in time and reading the Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by the Countess of Carnarvon. Sure I could live without my Kindle Paperwhite, but I don’t want to. And I am proud to say I am an ereader convert.

4: Cooler (or as Capt’n says, esky). When refrigeration is on the fritz, or I just simply buy too much food, or if we need another seat, the cooler has come to the rescue. Sometimes I curse this cooler because it takes up so much room. We have it in the cockpit and I am always stepping over it or tripping on it and I just want to through it overboard. But on a hot day, it is nice to have the room to store a bag of ice and have a nice cold drink.

5: wifi booster. I don’t know, maybe some people would say that a wifi booster IS an essential item! We had been living on our boat for a year without a wifi booster. And we were still alive. However, we did always complain if we did not get a good internet signal. The most irritating would be when we would fork out money to spend a night in a marina, expecting to get decent wifi, come to find out that our boat is too far from the signal and therefore no wifi for us L One of the reasons we waited so long to get a wifi booster was we were basically intimidated by all of the boosters that are out on the market. Some are so big that they look like light sabers, others are so small you wonder if they do anything at all. Not to mention the variety in cost. But this past December, Capt’n and I decided to bite the bullet and buy one as a Christmas present to ourselves. After searching the web for a booster and taking cost, power requirements, and size into consideration, we finally decided on an ALFA wisp-nsr http://www.alfa.com.tw/products_show.php?pc=28&ps=130. We actually bought it off amazon.com for less than $40.00. We weren’t sure what to expect when we plugged in the booster to our computer, but we are so thankful that we made this purchase. The booster is portable, so we can move it around the boat in order to get the best signal strength, it connects to the USB ports and there is no external power requirement, we have received signals from ½ mile away. Now this booster is not a long ranger booster – some of those boosters brag that they can receive signals from miles away, and this booster is not it. However we have been most pleased with this booster and am always grateful we have it. A perfect example is we are currently anchored at Satellite Beach Florida and I am typing this from my boat with full strength wifi signal using our little booster.

And there you have it. My five items that we can live without, but don’t really want to. Happy Friday, whether you are facing a snow storm, strong winds, or sunny skies.