We talk with people all the time (either in person, or online) who are either cruising, or preparing to cruise in the next couple years. It seems that everyone has an opinion on what is “required equipment.” But who can really say that this exact piece of equipment is required for US?
One great thing about the cruising community is that almost everyone is very helpful and it’s nice to hear differing points of view on how they’ve accomplished their dream. I try to listen to all ideas, see what fits for us, and adapt it to our future cruising plans. For instance, S/V Kaleo was nice enough to answer our questions on their watermaker installation. They reinforced some conclusions we had drawn, and therefore we’ll probably be contacting Rich at CruiseRO for a high-output watermaker before we head out. Another great example is our friends on S/V Moon Shadow and our long discussions about dinghies. The dinghy is a balancing act of size, functionality, storage, and purpose. I would LOVE a beautiful RIB with a 25hp engine that could zip me around to explore exotic locals. We could scuba dive off of it, and fly fish for bonefish in the flats, and troll offshore for marlin, and, and, imagine the possibilities! But then reality sets in and I ask myself, ‘where will I put it?’
So we find ourselves evaluating our purchases very carefully. We hypothesize, research, create a few spreadsheets, analyze ROI or pounds/watt or fuel consumption, etc. Our good friends on S/V Minx provide a great sounding board for all ideas of mine, both crazy and practical. (On the crazy side, if anyone wants my plans for a bike powered battery charger that provides both exercise and free energy, just email me.)
And that leads me to the overall point of this article: How do you know what kind of cruiser you’ll be until you cruise?
I wish I could flash forward a year and see what pieces of equipment we wish we had, and which pieces are gathering dust. Some pieces of so-called “required equipment” are very easy to evaluate, for example, a Monitor Windvane. Cruisers that have windvanes love them, and many people list it as their next big purchase. But for us, it’s just another thing to trip over on the way to the water with a scuba tank on our back. (See, since I can’t fit the aforementioned RIB, we’ll probably end up making a lot of dives off the big boat.) But other items are in a gray area, do we need it? Do we want it? Things that are as small as a pressure cooker (to cook meals faster and save propane,) to things as large as a generator or solar panels (to provide power without firing up the engine.)
It’s all a balancing act of what we think we’re going to do when we cast off the dock lines. I know we’re not sailing south out of the Chesapeake Bay and turning left for the Mediterranean, (if we were, we’d probably want that windvane.) But how do I know how long we will like to stay anchored in one spot? How often we’ll motorsail? How often we’ll be in a port with water or electricity?
And this leads us to think about the future, contemplate whether or not this piece will complement our lives, and then see how much it costs (the real limiting factor.)
Because if you’re independently wealthy, ignore everything I just said, and just buy two of everything. After all, you never truly know what you need until you get out there….