Sunday, October 25, 2009

favorite gear

We've had a few people ask about the equipment we used on the trip. I thought I would list, in no particular order, some gear that I am really glad to have on the trip....

I can't imagine going on a trip now without a SPOT satellite messenger. I got mine, a gift from my Mom, for $125. A year of service, including tracking, is about $150. It is safe. It is fun (a lot of people told us they enjoyed watching our trip on the SPOT track page). Bruce and I each bring our own SPOT on the trip, you see them both below (we've since added snap hooks to them so we can quickly clip them on our flotation vests).

We carry two gps's on each trip, Bruce's newer GPSMAP 76CSx, right, and my older Garmin eTrex Legend (no longer available). We use both, plus a chart book. My eTrex has very low-tech gray scale charts and sometimes that is a good thing. It gives me a very simple overall geography, the electronic hand-held version of someone up forward in the cockpit pointing with their arm saying "go that way!" Bruce has put Garmin's Bluecharts on his gps, easily readable on a nice color screen. It shows navigation markers, depth contours, all sorts of information. We use that for the finer points of navigation - skirting shoals, entering harbors.

We carry two Rubbermaid RoughNeck tubs. The one on the starboard side contains the cook kit, the one on the port side the tub contains our lights, notebooks, candles, etc. I've added bungee cord that runs across the top to hold the lid in place and allow for storing items on top of the tubs. These things are great. Cheap, indestructible and very reliable. Rain, spray and occasional waves get in the boat and yet I've never had a drop of water get inside of these tubs.

Inside the cook kit tub is the MSR Quick 2 System cook set. That was a gift to the boat this year from Bruce. Good even cooking, plates with tall sides so food stays on the plate, easy to clean. And it all tucks together in a very small package.

I'm wearing a couple of my favorite pieces of gear in the photo below, my West Marine Third Reef Foul Weather Gear and West Marine inflatable collar pfd with built in harness (the one in the link is not the exact one we use, but it is very close).

If you watch the sales, and there should be a lot of discounts this holiday season, you can find the full foul weather suit - jacket and bib pants - for about $130. This is their low-end product, but I have been very happy with it. If you cruise in an open cockpit boat you are going to want gear that will keep you comfortable and dry. This suit will do that. I leave mine rolled up and tucked under a bungee beneath the port coaming year round.

The inflatable pfd is very comfortable in hot, humid weather. We wear them all them time while sailing. When things get rough we connect the tethers to the harness (when I am on a solo cruise I wear the tether all the time). This is not a cheap piece of gear, but in my opinion it is well worth the price.

I made the boom tent out of polytarp, three-inch wide tape, grommets and rope for about $60. It takes less than five minutes to set up and we do that only when there is a good chance of rain. It keeps the boat reasonably dry even in a heavy rain. (If there is no rain in the forecast we leave the tent stowed and just use the bivy's.) When tied up in slip along the way we'll set up the tent at night just to minimize access to the boat and to keep rain/dew out.

The l.e.d. anchor light cost under $10 at WalMart. It uses three aa batteries. I'll hang it from the lazy jacks or jib halyward. It is not waterproof, but I've put it up several times in heavy rain and wind and it keeps on going.

I'm very happy with the gear we are using these days. It works, it fits and it stands up to the water, salt and sun we deal with on cruises. After each trip I sort through the gear and try to see where I can improve things. Right now I think we are in good shape.


No comments: