Sara’s must-haves for life aboard

There are a lot of articles and blog posts out the about what sailors can’t live without. Naturally, plenty of them have to do with the brass tacks of sails, ropes, safety devices and so on. But you’ll also find lots of recommendations for creature comforts and galley accessories. As you may have surmised, that’s where I’m going here.Here’s the beginning of my list of things I’m really glad we have on board Opsimath.1. Water purifier #drinkthetankwater: this thing is a godsend, and we have another blog post all about it. In this day and age, regularly buying bottled water is a cardinal sin, in addition to being a huge pain in the ass to transport, stow and toss the bottles in “recycling” bins (if you believe that most of your bottles don’t end up incinerated or buried, send me a check and I’ll explain further). So we installed a 300€ undersink water purifier. It consumes no electricity and a 50€ filter provides up to 2000 liters of water that tastes better than bottled water.2. Shade cloths: I’m not really sure what to call these in English, but basically, I couldn’t get by without these large pieces of white, lightweight fabric with loops that allow you to tie them up in an endless variety of configurations to shield from the sun. You can make a boom tent or position them to shade you from the afternoon’s hot, hot rays. They don’t need to be made for boating, just lightweight with loops or rings so that you can secure them with bungee cords. I would not, could not, be without these. Not with a goat and not on a boat.3. Electric candles: Ya, I know, I’m a hopeless romantic, but I like candle light, and girl, please! It’s not because I’m on a boat that I want to live with glaring overhead lighting (when we have enough power to run lights). Ambiance matters, even on the seven seas. At first, I brought along classic candles. But fire on a boat is bad for so many reasons, including the melting wax, used matches and black smudging or yellow stains from the flames. The perfect solution? Battery-operated candles with rechargeable batteries. No fuss, no muss, they dont blow out, melt or deform, and they’re every bit as nice. Environmentally friendly, too, as they’ll last for years. Mine are a combination of IKEA candles and some I got on Amazon.4. Pressure cooker: I got this tip off one of those “Top 10 galley necessity” lists, and it’s indispensable. A pressure cooker is the perfect solution for cooking things quickly, which equals saving money on gas. Another tip I’ll pass along: Use it to raise bread, as it is a perfect no-draft vessel. Some people also use it to bake bread, but I’ve never tried that. It’s also my “big pot” for cooking anything bulky, like mussels. Mine is a very modern SEB Clipso version, with no removable parts that could get lost.5. Stacking pots and pans: With galley space at a premium, it’s really handy to have pots and pans with removable handles. Mine are Tefal, but there are several brands out there, including some made for boats, where a full set of pots, pans and lids nestle together.6. Magma Barbecue: First off, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you cant take (all) the Texas out of the girl. I need a barbecue grill like some women need… well, whatever it is they need. At home, nothing but an electric ignition Weber gas grill will do, and on Opsimath, I had to have the Magma electric ignition gas kettle. It clips onto the balcony and is a cinch to remove and store. It works with a Camping Gaz cylinder, and cooks a little hot, but I’m learning how to use it. I’m very happy with it, and we brought along tree bark (cherry and apple) from the garden to smoke our foods. It IS expensive. For a new gas model with electric ignition, it’s about 300€, plus another 90 for the support arm. Magma makes several other kettle versions, including the charcoal kind (not my bag), and gas with no electric ignition. They do the same with larger “party size” models. It’s a beautifully made product in stainless steel, and I think you can pick up used ones at bargain prices. Peter thought I was nuts shelling out all that dough for a bbq, but now he sees the light!7. Fans (USB and electric): You know what’s hot? Your boat. Sitting in a port. We have a compact electric fan that can run off the mains while docked, and two small, clip-on USB rechargeable fans. Lifesavers.8. Electric tea kettle: Again, The Man scoffed at this one, but he scoffs no more! Gas canisters for the stove are expensive, and electricity is included in your port fees, so get a max of hot water mileage from a compact electric tea kettle. We use it for boiling water for cooking, too. Really saves on gas!9. Yogurt maker: We eat a lot of yogurt, and this is yet another thing that comes in multiple plastic pots that probably do not get recycled. On another sailing blog, some brilliant woman recommended the Easy-yo yogurt-maker that requires no electricity, only hot water. It’s like a big thermos into which you add hot water, then you tuck a cylinder containing cooled scalded milk and your yogurt starter. Simple. Just need milk and perhaps the occasional fresh pot of yogurt to refresh your cultures. Cost about 20€. come to think of it, you could probably use your pressure cooker and a blanket to do the same thing.10. Sous-vide machine: this is great for storing food, and so far, I’ve mostly used it for the freezer. If you’ve spent much time in a boat galley, you know that, even with a more modern refrigerator, like we have, it’s not like at home. There will be temperature variations, things will be constantly knocked around, and things just get chaotic. Putting all my fresh meat and fish sous-vide before putting it in the fridge or freezer assures there’s no cross-contamination or leakage, and protects as best as possible from the effects of fluctuating temperatures. When we arrive in the tropics, I suspect I’ll also use it to seal dry goods. I got an inexpensive unit from Amazon, and I can use it in ports on the mains power, or on our small converter with the motor running. Brilliant!11. Storage containers: invest in containers that fit your space. I know, all these things cost money, but if you have the budget and the time, finding storage that really fits your particular configuration is woth it. Yes, you can get along fine with what you have… But maximizing galley space is much simpler with the right containers. For dried food staples, I have square canisters of various dimensions that stack and nest perfectly in the well next to the stove. They are air-tight and transparent, and I label the tops. For refrigerator storage, I have square and rectangular boxes that I can stack and load onto my shelves. These are heavy duty plastic boxes from IKEA, with bamboo lids that can also be used as cutting boards or trays. These will last for years. The fact that everything fits together and that we use just one system means that we both know where to look for things and how to store leftovers.On my wishlist: a stove with a grill/broiler and electric ignition, and an electric toilet, which pulverizes the waste so you can stock it in your reservoir tank without fear of clogging anything up before you can pump it out.

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