Cruising Must Haves

When we first set out cruising, life in our floating home wasn’t quite as comfy as we’d hoped it would be. Over the years we’ve added gadgets and gear that made life easier while keeping an eye on energy, fuel and water consumption. Here are ten of our favorite things, some of them big, others small—ranging from expensive to low-cost—but all of them adding to a pleasurable life-style on a cruising boat.

Solar panels
We set out with just two little solar panels and soon realized they didn’t satisfy our considerable energy needs. After adding some more on the way, we now have 400 Watts, which is enough to run all our electronic devices, laptops, a fridge and a watermaker.

Wayne Vaney in action. Photo by Birgit Hackl
Wayne Vaney in action. Photo by Birgit Hackl

Wind vane
We named our Hydrovane ‘Wayne Vaney’, after the man who won the 500cc motorbike world championship five times. Our trustworthy helmsman steers the boat in almost all conditions and only gives up when there’s very little wind from aft, or no wind at all. On passages he works 24/7 neither complaining nor draining the batteries.

Watermaker
Our watermaker was among the pricier acquisitions we made before setting out cruising, but the freedom to stay in remote areas without the worry of where next to fill up the tank, or lugging jerry cans to the boat, is absolutely worth it. We opted for a small unit that produces 25 liters per hour, works on 12 volts and consumes less than 20 amps so that we can run it on solar energy.

Saltwater faucet in the kitchen
Doing the washing up with saltwater and rinsing the dishes with fresh saves a lot of precious drinking water. As a side effect, the high rate of flow keeps the drain non-smelly.

 

The famous bucket. Photo by Birgit Hackl
The famous bucket. Photo by Birgit Hackl

Bucket
The indestructible rectangular bucket that lives on our aft deck was designed to mix cement in, but onboard Pitufa it turned multifunctional: In bay-mode it double-acts as a shower tub and laundry bucket, and on passage it contains the mess ocurring while killing and cleaning fish.

AIS
The confusing lights on the horizon at night lose their menace when course and speed of the ships are displayed on the chart plotter. Even though we do night watches on passage, it’s still reassuring to have an alarm set to alert the person on watch when a ship is approaching.

Long-range WiFi antenna
It’s so much nicer to surf the WWW in the comfy saloon than having to drag the laptop ashore in search of a hotspot.

 

The netting keeps everything safely onboard. Photo by Birgit Hackl
The netting keeps everything safely onboard. Photo by Birgit Hackl

Lifeline netting
The safety net, primarily for the safety of our ship’s cat, also catches blown-away towels, caps, etc. Additionally it foils escape attempts by freshly caught fish.

 

Pitufa’s 50-pound German ‘Bügelanker’ anchor. Photo by Birgit Hackl
Pitufa’s 50-pound German ‘Bügelanker’ anchor. Photo by Birgit Hackl

Oversized anchor
Sometimes we’re amazed by the toy anchors even big yachts carry on their bow rollers. We have a 50lb German ‘Bügelanker’ (similar to a Rocna anchor) that settles firmly into most types of bottom (except weed), keeps our boat and belongings safe and gives us the peace of mind to sleep well and leave the boat to go ashore even in strong winds.

 

A non-stick pan with a lid
We have an oven in our galley, but hardly ever use it, because first it uses lots of kerosene and second it heats up the whole boat like a sauna. But that doesn’t mean that we have to renounce pleasures like fresh bread, pizza, quiches or cakes. We simply make them on the stove in the pan instead. Bread and cake get flipped over, for thin pizzas or quiches the heat under the lid is enough to cook them and melt the cheese on top.

 

Petufa pan bread. Photo by Birgit Hackl
Petufa pan bread. Photo by Birgit Hackl

PAN BREAD A LA PITUFA

Sour dough mixture:
Mix one tablespoon of rye flour with some water and leave it for a day in a warm place.

Add the same mixture on the second day.

On the third day the dough should start bubbling and is ready to use.

Rye bread:
2 cups wheat flour
2 cups rye flour
1 table spoon dry yeast
½ table spoon salt, a pinch of coriander and caraway

Mix the dry ingredients, add 2 cups of warm water and stir thoroughly. Add the sour dough, stir again and pour the dough into a lightly greased pan. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Bake on the stove over low heat for 20 minutes with the lid closed, flip the loaf and bake it another 20 minutes leaving the lid open slightly to achieve a crispy crust.

Birgit Hackl
Birgit Hackl, Christian Feldbauer and ship’s cat Leeloo have been exploring the world on their yacht Pitufa since 2011. Visit their blog: www.pitufa.at