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Top Ten Must Have Items for Boating or Living Aboard!

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I hear Julie Andrews singing in my head… and I thought to myself, what are a few of my favorite things while cruising aboard?

One year ago my husband and I made the transition from charterers to live aboard cruisers. As live aboards there are certain items we use on a regular basis that we did not consider or need as charterers. All our favorite items are relatively inexpensive yet bring great value to our cruising experience. As the Christmas gift giving season approaches these “Favorites Things” are all reasonably priced gift possibilities for your cruising family and friends, or simply a gift to your cruising self.


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1. Ice maker. My husband’s all time favorite is his countertop ice maker. He loves having plenty of ice so much that he has a backup ice maker stowed aboard. However, the first one, over a year old, just keeps going. When we had friends aboard for a week visit in Antigua, the ice maker kept up with the six of us and we even made extra ice to keep in the freezer to make batches of frosty blender concoctions. When we hear the ice drop in the machine we have bellowed, “liquid gold”. We picked up an IGLOO brand at our local Sam’s Club for $100. Years ago when we chartered, one of the boats had a brand new ice maker installed prior to our rental. By the end of our two week trip the over $2000 built-in ice maker was not only rusting but not working. We see counter top models readily available at Costco, Sam’s Club and recently at a Tuesday Morning in the Annapolis area. For us, it is worth the little bit of countertop space to have loads of ice. Heck, you could buy twenty countertop machines for the cost of one installed unit- now, that’s a no brainer.


2. Countertop Oven. Thanks to U-tubers, Nikki and Jason Wynn on SV Curiosity, we noticed their compact Cuisinart Bake Oven Central CBO-1000-CR1 countertop cooker which retails for $99.95. My husband went online and ordered a refurbished model for $50.00 plus S/H. We typically cruise in hot weather climates and this minimizes the heat in the galley, it is easy to use and cleanup, has great versatility for cooking just about anything, from frittatas to banana bread to stuffed peppers, chicken, even meatballs and eggplant parmesan. To find this gem of a product be sure to include the entire product code “CBO-1000-CR1” in your search or it will tell you that it has been “discontinued.” I called Cuisinart at 1-800-726-0190 to verify availability and pricing. You can find it online: https://www.cuisinart.com/shopping/parts-and-accessories/specialty_appliances/cbo-1000/


3. CORDLESS vacuum. I spent months hunched over vacuuming up sand with my handheld Shark wrestling with a cord or sweeping my sweep piles from bow to stern, down the fantail steps and off to the sea. We finally invested in a Hoover Cruise Cordless Ultra-Light Stick Vacuum (BH52230), an upright vacuum we happened upon at Costco. This was a great purchase; under a $100 and rechargeable, it runs for about an hour on a full charge (which I rarely vacuum that long aboard). It cleans area rugs, under cabinets, outdoor cushions and even the outside nonskid top decking well with the power brush setting. Instead of sweeping my sweep pile, I simply vacuum it all up in a jiff. The canister is easy to empty; no additional bags are necessary to purchase. It beaks down for easy storage, if necessary, or can be wall mounted. 


4. Wipes. Aboard we do NOT flush down our used toilet tissue. The reality is staying fresh is nicer using “baby” or “wet” wipes. Since we trash tissue paper anyway, use the wet wipes, it is as close as you will come to having a bidet on board. Just trust me on this one, a few packages of wipes for personal hygiene is a welcome addition to any cruiser.


5. Extension cord with three outlets. We have multiple small appliances we like to use in the galley and only have one plug poorly located near the sink; we had a problem. We stumbled upon a nice, decorative, three-outlet extension cord at a TJ Maxx for a great price. It is a heavy duty extension that makes our outlets so much more accessible for the toaster, hot pot, countertop cooker and ice maker. This small investment gave us flexibility for placement of our appliances and saved us a lot of money as we do not feel the need to install extra electrical outlets.


6. A hands free soap dispenser. simplehuman is the brand I found on clearance at my local TJ Maxx, with a rechargeable sensor pump dispenser. The redesigned model is selling for about $50.00. Make sure to get the rechargeable version, it is worth the added expense. I loved the sleek look and functionality so much that I went back and searched for a second to bring to the boat. When I have dirty hands from handling a muddy bridal or stinky fish, I truly appreciate the ease of swiping my hand under the dispenser and using my wrist to turn on the kitchen facet. The dispenser rests securely on the sink edge as we cruise, in high seas I simply set it inside the sink. Also, the charge lasts a long time; no batteries to purchase. www.simplehuman.com/sensor-It pumps/liquid-sensor-pump. 


7. Water Pic/Flosser. I know, you think what the heck kind of suggestion is this? Robert was a dentist in his former profession and knows that flossing adds years to your life- a documented fact. A water pic in conjunction with flossing does a better job cleanses under and around dental work. It is amazing what that gush of directed water flow will find in those hard to get places. Especially for cruisers, this may save you pain, money and the inconvenience of finding a dentist in unknown territory. Get one and USE IT! Consider this free advice from a dental professional.


8. Costco brand Oven Roasted Turkey Breast slices. We cook a lot onboard. We could cook a turkey; however, we simply do not seem to use our oven anymore since we love our countertop cooker. Costco’s turkey slices are fantastic tasting and they round out our full compliment of protein choices. We do not buy cold cuts as we try to eat healthy and stay away nitrates and processed foods (when we cheat we enjoy bacon). This “sliced from individual turkey breasts” meat has no preservatives and is 98% fat-free.  Usually we eat the turkey for a quick, delicious sandwich lunch. We could easily use these thick slices as a main course with gravy and stuffing. The package freezes well and we typically stock up whenever we are provisioning for trips outside the United States where Costco cannot be found. 


9. Bausch & Lomb pre-moistened Lens Cleaning Tissues. I am an eye glass wearer and all cruisers typically protect their eyes by wearing sunglasses. These quick and easy, get rid of the smear wipes are great for boaters. They provide a quick and effective way to remove the sunscreen or sweat and grim when in a hurry. (Of course, cruisers know to be weary of salt crystals on lenses and rinse first.) These wipes are great for hikes, or time away from the boat. Nothing frustrates me more, and wears me out, than not being able to see clearly especially noticeable at the grocery store or in a museum. Search Amazon for a great deal; I saw a highly rated brand of 400 count box online for about $25.00. Well worth it to be able to see what is happening in your life.


10. Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. Water management is a concern on any boat and keeping areas clean and healthy is a challenge at times. The disinfecting wipes make easy work of so many tasks from sanitizing door handles, to cleaning up after chicken or egg on food preparation surfaces. I have observed that a well sanitized table, sink drain and kitchen counter keeps the fly infiltration down. They also expertly pick up the specks of dirt and grim (e.g. dead insects, greasy fingerprints or dust bunnies) that cling to so many surfaces that are often difficult to get clean in a tight environment.

We hope that if you purchase some of our favorite things that they add exponential benefits to your friends and family or your own cruising days and nights.

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  1. You must spend alot of time in marinas. That is a lot of electrical juice to run an electric oven and an ice maker. Or maybe your the boat next to me that runs the generator day and night?


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So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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