Anchors Away

There is one thing you can’t sail without…well yes, you need sails but I am talking about the anchor.  The problem with anchors is that they are bulky.  By the time you add chain and line they are a real pain.  They follow murphy’s law…if it can get tangled in a heap, it will.

If you have a larger boat you may have an anchor bin or a windlass that rolls it up neatly for you.  In a small boat you have to bring it in by hand.  Then you have to store it.  This is where your problems begin.    Just try to keep all that line and chain from becoming anything but a mess… I dare you.

You can spend all your time trying to get the chain untangled , so you can deploy your anchor and go for a swim.  Or, you can come up with a better way.  At first we stored our anchors in the back locker in a heap, then an instructor showed us a better way.

Enter the Five Galloon Buckets

We took lessons from an instructor who taught us to put each anchor in a five gallon bucket so you can lower it down into the front hatch.   You will want to add the  line and chain to the bucket as it comes out of the water.  In other words the anchor sits on top of  the line and chain. You will notice our anchor buoy ball sits on the very top.   When you are ready to deploy the anchor it  comes out of the bucket the same way you fed it in.   Best of all no tangles.  

When we are off swimming or sleeping at night we clip the rope handles onto the halyard lines.  This way we don’t lose the bucket due to wind or waves.

The anchor buoy ball is a marker to let other boaters and/or  jet skiers know where your anchor is located. Without it, someone could get tangled up in your anchor.  Trust me those river mosquitoes do get that close to your boat.

Float ball on anchor line. Bucket clipped to front stay.

Where to Store the Anchors

We store the anchors in the locker when someone needs to sleep in the front berth.  When we don’t need to have the mattress in that area,  we drop the anchor buckets down thru the front hatch and into the berth.

Dave lowering the anchor bucket down through the front hatch.

We can push the buckets over to the side and take them out the same way.  They are easy to reach right inside the hatch door.  Dave  painted the bottom of the buckets with liquid rubber so they don’t slide all around the berth.

The original metal handle didn’t give enough.  Rope handles were the answer.  They make it easy to maneuver the bucket in and out.  Dave drilled two holes in the bucket and made a rope handle for each.

Weight Distribution

Remember when you are deciding where to store your anchors that weight matters.  Those anchors, chain and wet rope are very heavy.  You want to take into consideration weight distribution at all times.  The boat will heel with wind.  To keep it upright and stable you want all the weight onboard to be as evenly distributed at possible.  We have one battery on each side of the boat. We put the anchors on the opposite side of the berth as the water jugs.  See where I am going with this?

It takes time to get things just the way you want them in your boat.  Don’t get discouraged.  Hang out with other sailors and  see how they do things.  You can’ t have too many options or opinions. Okay, maybe too many opinions,  if they are coming from your in-laws,

Happy Anchoring!!!

In the next few months we will be doing blogs on:

  • How We Built The Cabinet In The Bathroom
  • Building and Installing Storage Drawers
  • Product Reviews
  • Rebuilding and Organizing Our Locker
  • Adding More Storage
  • How We Organize Our Stuff
  • How We Built The Wooden/Glass Companionway Door
    • To replace the fiberglass door.
      • AND MUCH MORE!!!!

We Needed Fresh Safe Water

There Was No H2O

When we bought the boat there was a hand pump faucet,  but no water storage tanks.  Remember, Seabreeze was previously only used for short day sails.  We needed fresh safe water and somewhere to store it.

Our plans have always been to take long trips on Seabreeze.  There is just not enough room to take gallon jugs for cooking,  drinking and washing. We would need about a gallon of water,  per person,  per day.  Besides, who wants gallon jugs rolling around the cabin.  Using drinking bottles created too much garbage.

We purchased a 5 gallon plastic tank in the camping section at Walmart.   It held enough water for a long weekend and we could always refill it.  In our town we have a place that fills 5 gallon jugs for the kitchen type water dispensers.  They sterilize and fill them for about $2.50 each.  This way we are sure our water tanks are clean and safe.

Dave hooked it up under the sink.  This caused two issues.  It took up a lot of valuable storage space under the sink.  Plus, every time  the boat heeled the container tipped over and it ended up leaking.

We Needed A Better Solution

We tried putting other things next to the water jug to hold it upright. But it  always seemed to find a way to  spill.  Not to mention  the tank was difficult to get in and out of the space under the sink. By the time you tilted it enough to get it in place,  you had spilled part of your water supply.

We knew that the front berth was not going to be used unless the grandkids were staying with us.  There had to be someway to secure the tanks.  But, they had to be easy to access so we could fill them.

Dave decided we could mount them on the wall and they wouldn’t be in the way even when we needed the bed. He built a little shelf on the wall  higher than the sink so gravity would siphon the water for us.  We  did not want them sitting on the mattress sweating.  Again, a possible mold issue.

A Wall Solution


After setting the jugs on the shelf, Dave mounted three flat eye straps, one on each side of the jugs and one in the middle. He laced the one inch nylon cinching strap through the left eye, around the first tank, through the middle eye and then around the right tank. Finally it goes through the right eye and across the front. The strap then cinches across the front.

Now For The Plumbing

Dave ran a section of clear flexible plastic pipe under the bathroom floor to the sink.  Next, the flexible pipe was connected to the PVC section on the wall.  You can use  the flexible pipe all the way through, but he felt the PVC would be sturdier and fasten to the wall better.  The PVC could also accommodate fittings for attaching the clear water hose.


Preparing the Water Tanks

Now, holes needed to be cut in the lids for the clear plastic tubing to fit through.  This tubing needed to be long enough to syphon to the bottom of the  containers.  A piece  of PVC pipe long enough to go from the lid to the opposite corner of the tank was slide into each of the tanks. This PVC is just a guide that the clear plastic tube runs through.  It has to be tight so it can’t fall into the tank and get lost.   Without it the plastic tube would just curl up and not suction off the bottom.

When the tanks need to be changed, you unscrew the cap and the clear plastic comes out with the cap.  Once refilled,  you reinsert the clear plastic tube into the  PVC pipe and screw on the lid.

The red tubing is the pipe coming from the water tanks. The clear goes to the faucet from the valve. You can see the bottle for the soap dispenser.

The plastic tubing come out under the sink.  Dave installed an on off valve with an on/off knob located on the counter.  When you change the tanks, you need to pump the water to prime it. Once it is primed it just syphons when you turn the valve on,  you don’t have to pump.

You can see the soap pump as well as the button style valve for turning the water on.

With Sinks Comes Soap

This is slightly off the topic.  My other big complaint in the kitchen would have to be soap spills.  I’ve  had various types of containers for hand and dish soap.  They always seemed to tip over leaking and dripping everywhere.  We found a nice metal under the sink soap dispenser at Home Depot.   Metal will last longer than the cheap plastic ones.  This little 5 minute install has saved me hours of cleaning up soap spills.

You will also notice the clear plastic tubing on the faucet.  The sink faucet was not designed very well.  Water was directed  up the side of the sink.  This plastic hose directs it down into the sink with less splashing.

A Place To Store Dishes

How Our Cabinet Idea Came About

We decided that we needed someplace to store our dishes. I didn’t want yet another tote to trip over.  There were a few options.  We could store them in the area under the sink.  However, it  was not  a place you want to store dishes.  It was more of place to put dirty tools.  Putting them under the seats in the hatches meant that I would have to move all the  seat cushions to get a plate or bowl.  All these options seemed unworkable.

If you have ever been on a sailboat,  you know that a shelf is no option. Anything that isn’t glued down or secured in someway is going to learn to fly.  I don’t care how unbreakable your dishes are supposed to be, they will break.  Nothing is safe unless it is made of rubber and can bounce off the walls.

I sat in the boat and looked around.  There was all this unusable wall space above the sink.  There had to be something we could do with all that. Enter hubby and the answer.

Think Think Think

We tossed around all sorts of ideas. A shelf with a railing to hold things in.  A container on the wall for the plates to slide down into.  I had found these adorable dishes at Amazon, they needed to be seen and enjoyed. 

  So, Dave came up with the idea of a cabinet where they could all be secure. A simple china cabinet, if you will.   Also, you can see how this cabinet actually gave the wall behind the sink more support.

What Floats Your Boat

When working on your boat, do not remove any of the flotation foam located in the walls or ceiling. I know it is tempting to remove just a little so you can fit that cool cd player in,  but don’t do it. When we bought our boat, one of the first things we had to do was rewire. The electrical system hadn’t been used and from age it was all corroded. We had to go into the walls to run the wires. We noticed that some of the styrene had turned to just a bunch of loose balls. It was almost 17 years old. We did replace some of it with new and even added more. It doesn’t hurt to add more, JUST DON’T REMOVE ANY! This is what floats your boat and prevents it from sinking.

The Design For Our Cabinet

I will give you a basic outline of how we built our cabinet. However, it will be different for you. It will depend on the space you have to work with  and the dishes you purchase.

Dave built the basic cabinet outline and then laid out the dishes to see how they would fit and how large each cubbyhole needed to be. This is where your dimensions will differ from ours.

Before Our Cabinet


Before the dish cabinet

On the back wall you can see the old mirror. The mirror was yellowed and cloudy. We took the mirror off and found that due to moisture we had some mold behind the mirror. This was pretty normal and wasn’t a big deal since we were planning to replace this old plywood with something nicer. Dave used the old plywood as a template for the new wall.

For the back of the cabinet we decided to go with yellow birch because when stained it looks the most like teak. It is also light weight.  We purchased a 4x8x 1/2 inch  sheet of yellow birch plywood. You don’t want it too thin, it will warp.   Too thick,  just adds unnecessary weight.  This would need to be finished on both side because, it would also become the wall in the bathroom.  The back of the cabinet wall is 40×30 inches. The acrylic mirror we purchased on Amazon was cut to the size we wanted 16×20. The dish cabinet measures 17×20 1/2.

I wasn’t crazy about this cabinet sticking out over my countertop. Space on a sailboat is at a premium.  Giving up my countertop space would not be a good trade off.  After a few days of thinking about it, Dave had the answer. There was space in the bathroom not being used for anything. It wasn’t going to be in the way,  so Dave built the cabinet into the bathroom about 3 inches. We now have a beautiful wood wall in  the bathroom.  In this picture you can also see the door where the bathroom garbage is stored. We explain how and why we did this in another blog.



How We Got The Dishes to Stay Put

So, I knew I wanted the dishes to show off. Above all, we wanted the dishes to stay in the holders. Now, we just had to figure out how. The whole dish cabinet measures 17x 20 ½ and is built out of 1×6 mahogony boards. The cubbyhole for the plates has slits cut for the plates to sit in. Dave then built and designed a little spring latch to keep them in place until I wanted to use them.  He used a small strip of teak wood with a hacksaw blade embedded into the top to give it the spring.  He also put a notch in the spring holder so it would catch on the first plate and hold it in place.

A Place For The Bowls

For the bowls he stacked them all behind the fold down door.  You simply open the door and there are your secure bowls ready to use. This measures just slightly larger than the bowls.  This carrier worked better than grooves for the bowls.  To hinge the door he used a piece of stainless threaded rod fit into embedded stainless steel nuts, so it can pivot. Always use stainless on a boat.  Rust stains are not a pretty decoration.

Cups Can’t Roll Around the Cabin

Next,  the problem  became what to do with the cups.  I didn’t want them swinging from hooks only to fall and break.  Dave used a hole saw and chisel to make a little rim for them to fit. They are really tight and have so far gone nowhere.  The indentations are deep enough to keep them  safe and secure.


The Silverware Was Too Pretty To Store Away


Our next challenge would be the silverware I found with a nautical pattern on it. I had to show that off too.

So he built a silverware holder at the bottom of the cabinet. This holder measure 9 1/2x 4. He cut a notch for each piece of silverware using a scroll saw.  Each piece of silverware slides in sideways then turns to sit in its own groove.

Dish cabinet

Too Much Space…Not Enough Cabinet

We were almost done. We didn’t need the dish cabinet to cover the whole wall but, we did need something under the cups.   Plus, the old mirror did reflect some light back into the cabin to brighten things up a bit.   It just made sense to measure the leftover space for an acrylic mirror and mount it next to the dish cabinet with 3M Spray glue.   We ordered a safety acrylic mirror from Amazon. Some places online called them play area mirrors.  They will flex with the boats movement and not crack. 

Seal It!!  Mold is Not Your Friend

Remember that you will want to seal the wall behind it to prevent mold. So it is important to finish this area with stain and/or polyurethane before you install the mirror. For the stain we used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain.   To get the teak look we wanted,  Dave wiped on the Colonial Maple and then went over it with English Chestnut while it was still wet.

We used a clear gloss indoor/ outdoor  polyurethane made by Helmsman.  You will want to make sure you use a high end marine polyurethane.  No, the cabinet will not be in direct contact with water but the moisture that collects in a boat can cause cheaper polyurethanes to bubble and peel.  Not a good look for your new gorgeous dish cabinet.

When you are staining and applying polyurethane on your wood don’t stop with what you can see. Make sure you get it on every edge you can’t see. Trust me moisture will find it’s way in and cause it to buckle up or worse yet grow mold. By sealing even the edges you can’t see,  you will have one less thing to worry about. We ended up putting about 6 coats of polyurethane on the cabinet.

My dishes can be enjoyed and used on a daily basis.  They do not slip or slide even when we are pulling the boat.  Trust me the roads in Illinois can be rougher than most lakes.

Navigation and Weather Apps for Your Electronic Toys

I know years ago they sailed with only paper charts and prayer.  I am so glad we are past that and now have electronics and software to help us enjoy our passion. Yeah, I am aware we still have paper charts for navigation.  Yes, we  can sail without these toys but why would we want to.

Some of these apps can be installed and used without an internet connection. Others will need either cell or internet service.  Most of the time I can use my cellphone as a hotspot, but that doesn’t always work.

There is a new internet system in the works that will allow everyone to take their internet with them anywhere.  Yes, even on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean.  Since planes fly everywhere it works everywhere. The Internet will bounce off the planes overhead.  It is call  Airbourne Wireless Network,  so keep an eye on the news for its launch.  They have tested it, now to wait for approval. Since I live in the middle of nowhere with very slow internet, I am looking forward to this system for home and sailing.



Dock Your Boat
Android and Apple
Skipper in training app you download
freeApp for simulating the physics of a boat during harbor maneuvers.
This boat- and harbor-simulator for docking and undocking under engine serves as a realistic trainer for skippers. The idea and the creation came from an enthusiastic sailor. The simulator helps to improve your skills in safe maneuvering of sailing yachts in different environments such as in narrow spaces in ports and marinas, using the propeller walk as well as the effects of crosswind and current. It also allows to handle lines and fenders. Besides the playful character of this simulator game the learning effect is creating the most value added for users. A range of different scenarios with various levels of difficulties are available for selection. Uncomplicated visual onscreen help with short text guidance passes on the basic principles to get a feel for the handling methods. Wind and current can be modified. For advanced users they provide a scene-editor via in-app-purchase.

How to Sail
App for mobile and PC
This app has over 170 tutorial lessons to bring you up to speed with many navigation techniques and safety procedures.
Learn to Sail Apps
Apple, PC, and Android
$3.99 each
Sailing lessons in Apps.

Top Sailor Simulator
App for Apple and Android
Top Sailor is a highly realistic sailing and motorboat simulator. Take Top Sailor with you and learn basics of sailing! See how wind force affects the sail and test your skills against AI opponents in a yacht race. Learn how to trim the sails to make the most use of wind energy. Discover when there is a risk of capsizing. Practice sailing downwind and upwind, tacking and gybing. Improve navigation skills, sail race strategy and tactics.



NOAA Weather App
Android and Apple app
This app uses NOAA point forecasts from your GPS location to get the most localized weather available. Point forecasts are great for climbing, hiking, skiing, or any outdoor activity where weather from a nearby city isn’t accurate enough.

Marine Weather by Accuweather
Android and Apple app
Stay connected to the latest, real-time, marine weather conditions with Marine Weather™ by AccuWeather. Designed for mariners and other water hobbyists, this free, customizable app features MinuteCast™, the leading minute-by-minute weather forecast that is hyper-localized to your exact location.

THEYR Gribview 
Apple and Android

Ventusky – Wind, Rain and Temperature Maps–free
Apple and Android app
You can use it on the website on download the app to your device.
Animated wind, rain and temperature maps, detailed forecast for your place, data from the best weather forecast models such as GFS, ICON, GEM.

App for apple, pc and android
Don’t miss a day on the water or in the air! SailFlow makes it easy for you to find the wind and weather data you’re after no matter where you are. You can use as a website on your PC or download the App.



Apple and Android
Don’t miss a day on the water or in the air! WindAlert makes it easy for you to find the wind and weather data you’re after no matter where you are.

Android, Apple or laptop via website
Pro $2.99
Wind and weather reports & forecasts for kite surfers, wind surfers, surfers, sailors and paragliders for over 40000 locations worldwide 
Global Coverage Anywhere in the World at 9km Resolution. View Free Forecasts!
Outstanding Accuracy · Live Wind Observations · Free GRIB Viewer
Services: Grib Viewer, Iridium Go, Marine Weather Forecast, Yacht Racing, Power Boating, Cruising.

Windy: Wind map & weather forecast (also known as Windyty)
Weather radar, wind and waves forecast for kiters, surfers, paragliders, pilots, sailors and anyone else. Worldwide animated weather map, with easy to use layers and precise spot forecast. METAR, TAF and NOTAMs for any airport in the World. SYNOP codes from weather stations and buoys. Forecast models ECMWF, GFS,

PocketGribApp $5.99 Apple and Android

With PocketGrib you can download, view and analyse global weather data while on the go. Wind, precipitation, pressure, temperature, wave and other data extracted from GRIB files are displayed through our powerful GRIB viewer interface. Perfect for sailors (both sailing and in the pub), windsurfers, stormchasers.



AyeTides     Apple and Android App
AyeTides and AyeTides XL show the tides and currents for over 12,000 locations around the world*. AyeTides and AyeTides XL give you the day’s tides as tables and interactive graphs. See what the tides are doing next week or next year. See sun rise, moon rise, etc., and how the tides respond to the moon.
Several tides apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It’s a great idea and a handy way to keep track of the tides without carrying around printed tide charts for every location. A good tide app is especially useful when you’re cruising to different areas and need accurate information on local tides – and potentially water currents as well.

Charts and Tides
App for Apple and Android
Free but you do have to purchase the charts you need
The all new Charts&Tides for iOS7 is finally here! Now get access to charts, tides, ActiveCaptain information, GPS navigation and more in a well designed package. Use it at home to research and plan your trip. Use it on your boat as  a navigation tool to route to your final destination.

My Tide Times
Apple and Android
Pro version is $1.99
My Tide Times is the only tide tables application you’ll ever need. Whether you’re surfing, fishing or just going to the beach you’ll be able to use it to get quick and easy access to the tides. We think it’s the most beautiful tide times application on the market to date.

US Tides
Apple and Android app
Seven days tides tables and charts for more than 3000 US locations as provided by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Displays sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset times and moon phase.

View Tide Charts | USHarbors
This is a website with printable charts
USHarbors delivers free printable tide charts, onshore and marine forecasts, weather buoy data, radar, harbor guides, and a directory of coastal businesses.




Apps for Apple and Android
The world’s #1 Boating app! A favorite among cruisers, sailors, fishermen and divers. Find the same detailed charts and advanced features as on the best GPS plotters. Download the app and get an automatic 2-week free trial of Navionics

Transas iSailor – Marine Navigation, Chart Plotter and AIS Viewer for …
android and apple app
Transas iSailor is a marine GPS navigation system intended for use on iPads, iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets. An excellent solution for boats and yachts owner navigation.

For apple, android, and laptops from the website
The large community of ActiveCaptain users shares their experiences to make all of our boating adventures safer, less expensive and more enjoyable. Learn from others and share your own experience by registering a free account. ActiveCaptain is social. Your electronic boat card is your digital passport to meeting others, …

Garmin | ActiveCaptain App and website
For apple android and laptops from the webpage
ActiveCaptain™ App. All-in-one App for the Ultimate Connected Boating Experience. The free all-in-one ActiveCaptain™ mobile app allows you to manage your marine experience from nearly anywhere. It creates a simple yet powerful connection between your compatible mobile device and your compatible Garmin …

Isail GPS:NOAA Charts
App for Apple and Android
iSailGPS, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch GPS App for NOAA Marine Charts for USA waters, even where there is no cell service.

Marine navigation ap for Ipad and Iphone
A good all-round package and especially versatile for ability to use raster and vector charts from multiple providers.

website not app
Join the new age of discovery
To help you find anchorages and marinas.

Anchor watch
Apple and Android app
Anchor watch is a position logger, SMS alarm and sound alarm and it monitors the device’s current location and informs you if the location of the device changes too far away from the set anchor. In that case, it will sound an alarm and optionally send an SMS.

Android and Apple app
Be alert if your anchor drag with a simple yet full of features app.

Anchor Zone Alarm
Android and Apple app
Just draw a circle around your boat with a finger and turn it on. It does not get easier than that. Area alarm will help you to not get into trouble when sailing.

Toilet Paper and Potty Onboard

An Unusual Topic

I know this is a strange topic for a blog.  If you are part of any of the sailing groups on Facebook, you know this is a hot topic.  Women go on for days about what to do with toilet paper and how to go to the bathroom onboard.   I am going to be writing about options others have discussed on the forum.  Yes, a little crude at times.

Types of Bathroom Systems

Some larger sailboats have a storage tank that needs to be emptied at a marina.  The cost is minimal at about $10.00.  If you are going to be doing a crossing and have a small storage tank, this will be an issue. With this type of system you have to worry about wipes and toilet paper clogging the plumbing.  When it comes to the job of cleaning out the plumbing, I am going to be very busy that whole day.

Others have composting toilets that you don’t have to deal with very often.  The downside of these toilets is the smell, especially if you are not living aboard.  The odor builds up when the boat is closed up for any extended time.  So if you are a weekend sailor, your might not want to install this type.  Or you might need clothes pins for your nose or maybe stock in Glade plug ins.

Our boat is smaller so we have a portable camping type toilet.  It holds about 5 gallons of waste. This type needs to be emptied quite often.  Toilet paper is a problem because it fills up the tank quickly.   Women are also a problem because we use the bathroom more than men. But then again men don’t want to sail without women so it is a catch 22.

You also want to pay attention when you buy the holding tank chemical packs.  You want to be sure to get the ones that specify they contain an enzyme or waste digester.  If you get the little packets called deodorizers they will not help break down the waste.  They will only make the waste smell better.


What To Do With the Toilet Paper

Many have suggested that you don’t put your paper in the toilet.  They suggest that you put it in a Ziploc bag and throw it away.  Others, use bathroom wipes and put them in Ziploc bags.  Never put the wipes in any onboard toilet.  They will  NEVER break down.

I have to admit I don’t have a problem with the plastic bags idea. What is the difference.  I change my grandchildren and throw their diapers and wipes in the garbage.  Then again I am from the generation that used cloth diapers.  Not a pretty picture.

When we retire to Georgia and sail for weeks on end putting our TP in plastic bag will more than likely be the plan for us.  But until then I will throw it in the toilet.  Our longest trips right now are 5 or 6 days.  Our onboard toilet can handle that.

The TP Test

Some have suggested that all toilet paper breaks down.  Well I tried the experiment below.  I am here to tell you this is not true.  Our home is also in the country with a septic tank so I found this experiment interesting.

I purchased a package of each of the following toilet papers:

  • Camp-Chem in the camping section of Wal-Mart
  • Scot Rapid Dissolve RV paper in RV section of Wal-Mart
  • Scot One ply (this was suggested as a good alternative to camping tp)
  • Angel Soft
  • Great Value the Wal-Mart brand (note to self hurts the  behind)

The experiment was to  put one piece of each in a cup and add really warm water.  Wait and see which dissolved the best.  Full disclosure the Great Value was still pretty much whole the next morning.  So not only is it scratchy, it doesn’t dissolve at all.  You will empty it out of your toilet pretty much in the same condition your put it in there.

The moral of this story is that if you are really concerned about your toilet paper breaking down then you should use the camping toilet paper. It started to break down almost immediately.

There are things that other women are doing on board to remedy this problem.  I hope you find these useful and somewhat comical.  I will admit I have used some of these while kayaking and camping. 

Other Options

So let’s talk off shore long distance sailing trips and crossings.  You can’t risk filling up your head while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  The easiest ways to prevent this are:

  • Not putting toilet paper in it
  • Nothing but solid matter goes in. ( I was trying to reference poop nicely)
  • Using another means while under sail on long voyages. ( I am not here yet.  I am not even close.)  In my family I was the only girl and I had older brothers.  Can you spell princess?  Well, this royalty, does not go poop in a bucket and throw it overboard.

The Yellow Stuff

Many of the women on the sailing forum use other methods to get rid of the yellow stuff.


I do own one of these and mostly use it while kayaking.  In the Great Lakes a crossing may take 4-8 hours.  You can’t just flip the kayak and go.  The water is too cold and the waves make it harder to re-enter.  With a Freshette, I can move to the front of the seat and use this device with an empty water bottle.  All while under my kayak skirt so nobody sees.  When we get where we are paddling, I get rid of it.

Other women use this as a stand up device over the side of the boat. Some even use an empty milk jug with a lid.  I have used it while hiking.  Because of the way it is made there is no need to lower your pants, so nobody can tell what you are doing.

Hint:  I have tried to use one of the devices called a Go-Girl.  I like my shoes too much to use that one.  It is so flimsy it goes all over the place.  The Freshette has a nice tube so you can use it with a bottle or aim it away from your feet if hiking.  It is also stiff enough not to collapse.

Travel John

For me this option is too expensive.  I have used these on camping trips.  There is no way you will convince me to leave the safety of my tent to pee in bear country after dark.

I also keep them in the car for those times when the grandchildren just can’t wait.  Plus, they are great when you live in Illinois and get caught in a blizzard.  My brother was once stuck on RT 80 for 10 hours after a blizzard with accidents closed it.

Travel Johns are disposal urinals that contain the same gel as in  diapers.  When the urine hits the gel it expands and hardens.  It can’t spill and you just throw it away.   

If you are just a weekend sailor you can get away with using camping toilet paper with a portable toilet.  What you do with your toilet paper, well that is between you and whoever has to empty the toilet.

Oh No, We Have Mold!!

Mold is not only disgusting,  it is unhealthy.  It has been linked to multiple health issues. My father in law started having lung issues.  The doctors seem to think it was due to some type of mold or bacteria in his house .  He was breathing it in on a daily basis.  He passed away from lung issues two years ago.

Mold has also been linked to joint inflammation diseases like Fibromyalgia, allergies, headaches, and extreme fatigue.  It is nothing to ignore or try to cover up. If you can smell musty,  you have a problem.

Mold Must Go

I hope I just scared you enough to think about preventing mold on your boat.  Unfortunately, mold is a fact of life while living on a boat.  Boats give it a very happy home.  For your health and sanity you need to get rid of it and keep it away. It is easier to keep it at bay than it is to get rid of it.

You can’t see the spores before you see the mold growth. It is important to treat everything as if it is mold contaminated.

What is Mold?

Mold is a fungus that smells horrible, especially in a small closed up boat. Mold and or mildew can seem to  pop up literally overnight.  It loves dark damp areas.  A sailboat  in a warm high humidity area is the perfect place for mold to happily thrive. The problem is unlike mosquitos and bacteria it is not killed by freezing, it just goes dormant till spring.

Mold can take on many different appearance depending on the type.

What Causes Mold

In a sailboat the temperature inside and out changes constantly. It is this difference in temperature that creates the dampness that make mold happily grow.  Have you ever noticed after a chilly night that things inside feel damp or maybe your walls are slightly damp?  This is condensation from temperature change and because you are breathing inside. Now, you can’t stop breathing but, you can use a heater to minimize the temperature difference and dry the air. You can also use a dehumidifier but they take a considerable amount of electric.  Unfortunately, electric unlike mold is in short supply on a sailboat.  We will cover the non-electrical remedies to this problem.

Stop the Source of Moisture

When we bought our boat it had many leaks.  They were not major issues.  They were small leaks around stanchions, chain plates, screws that had worked loose, and around our rub rail.  You can see how this water created the perfect mold environment. It is important to rid the boat of any moisture sources and or leaks.  If you  have a shower, run a fan to clear out the steam and moisture.  If you boil water open a window and blow out the steam.

How Not to Get Rid of Mold

They are no longer recommending you use bleach to remove mold. It may remove the discoloration but it does not kill the spores. It can actually cause them to divide and come back when conditions of dampness returns. I have also read that when the bleach comes in contact with the mold it becomes toxic.  Not to mention it also takes the color out of everything it touches. Let’s not forget the dangers of inhaling bleach on a small boat.  Bleach should not be used in any small confined area.

Washing the surface with soap and water may get rid of the discoloration but it won’t kill off the spores.

Do not just try to brush it off or vacuum it off. You will just make the spores airborne.

How Do You Make it Go Away

If you have mold, it’s not necessary to dress like this to clean up your sailboat.   With that said,  you don’t want to clean it up without a face mask and gloves.  Scrubbing the effected area causing some of the spores to go airborne and you don’t want them in your lungs.


First, take everything you can out of the boat.  You need to be able to access all corners.  Since we are still living in our house we do this every fall. We take everything out and store it in the house.  While the boat is empty we wash everything with a mixture of borax and water.   This will remove any stains if you have mold.  We turn a heater on to dry the boat faster.

After, the borax cleaner dries,  I wash thing off with 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water.  I let this dry thoroughly.  Once that is dry I spray Concrobium

Mold Control spray in the corners, under the sink and in the back of the lockers. You can buy this on Amazon, Home Depot, or Menards.  It sometimes leaves a  white film but, this is easily wiped away.

Concrobium kills the spores and prevents them from coming back.  I don’t start with Concrobium because it only kills it.  You will then be stuck with the stains.   You want to remove the staining, then kill the left over spores. I use the aerosol spray not the pump.  The spray gets into the corners better.  If you can’t remove everything you can fog.  Home Depot rents the foggers.  it does leave a slight residue in areas where the fog settles wet.  This is not toxic and easily wiped off.  It is nothing like the residue from bug bombs.

Just make sure you open up all the doors, lockers, and closets to keep air circulating all winter long.  Another important item I use consistently is the DamRip hanging moisture absorbers.  They come in boxes of 3.  I  use one box around the boat in the fall and I don’t need to replace them until late winter. So two boxes will do the job until we are ready to go sailing again. That is about a $20.00 investment.  Do not get the cheaper brands at places like the Dollar Store.  They do not work as well. I put one in our boat, it didn’t collect even half the moisture the Damprid brand collected.

Treating In the Spring

In the spring before we put everything back in its place, I wash all the winter grim off with 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar solution.  After that dries I spray the Concrobium in the back of the closets, cabinets, and lockers.

I have noticed that moisture collects between the vinyl on the back of my seat cushions and under the mattress.  To keep the fuzzy stuff from growing, I spray Concrobium on the fiberglass before we install everything.  I called a chemist friend to make sure this stuff is non-toxic.   I did not want to use something dangerous in my bed.

Cleaning In Your Boat

To clean in the boat I use a spray bottle with vinegar and water.  I also use vinegar and water wipes.  It is important not to use furniture polish.  Mold loves to grow in furniture polish. If you don’t believe me spray some in a petri dish.  Wiping everything with vinegar prevents mold from returning.  If I get a greasy mess or something is really dirty, I will use dawn and water first. But, I rinse with vinegar water.

To make the vinegar wipes you will need 2 pop-up containers from either diaper wipes or wet-ones wipes, a roll of Brawny paper towels, vinegar and water. Cut the paper towel rolls in half with a hacksaw.  Take out the cardboard center.  Now place each half in a container and cover with vinegar and water.  Leave it sit overnight then drain off the extra liquid.  Feed the middle piece through the pop up and there you have them for quick cleanups.  Hint:  I have tried cheaper brands of towels and they fall apart too easily, use the Brawny.

We haven’t had one spot of mold since I started doing these things faithfully.

Material Loves to Grow Spores

I don’t want to find mildew on clothes and towels we don’t use very often. To prevent this I seal them up in large Food Saver bags.  This not only prevents moisture from entering and causing mildew, it shrinks them down so they take up less space.

When we put towels and clothing out on the lifelines to dry, we make sure they are in the sun and fully dry before we store them away.

Cardboard and Paper

Cardboard and paper hold in moisture and become a friendly environment for that fuzzy stuff and bugs.  I hate both, so we try to keep cardboard and paper off our boat.  All our manuals are laminated and in a notebook.  We take labels off cans and write the name in permanet marker on the top of the can.   Any prepared foods come out of the box and are stored in Ziploc bags or Food Saver bags.

Sails, Canvas and Cloth

Chances are your sails were originally sprayed with  a  similar chemical to Wet and Forget.  We plan to re-treat ours every 2 or 3 years. We treat our bimini every fall.

If you see stains on any of your fabric items or sails you can clean them with a mixture of borax and water.  If it is a large item such as a tarp or sail,  you may want to soak it overnight in a big tote with borax and water. This should remove the stains as well.  It is probably a good idea to spray them with Concrobium after they dry out.  Make sure they are fully dry before you fold them back up for storage.

If you see anything that looks like mold, treat it as if it is a full blown mold outbreak and clean clean clean.

Our Get Away Plan

I like the sound of that title.  It makes us sound like we are being sneaky and getting away with something.  But seriously, people keep asking us what we have for a plan and a timeline.  I decided to dedicate this blog to “our get   away ”  plan and timeline.  The actual goal is to be moved and settled in either Georgia or South Carolina by the summer of 2019 with Dave retiring in  2021 or 2022.

We have talked to others who have sailed away.  For many of them, things fell into place quicker than they expected.   We will keep you posted as to how things play out for us and where we are in the timeline.

Our Plan

See his smile. He is like that the whole time he is on Seabreeze.

I probably should start at the beginning.    Dave has always loved the sea and sailboats.  For as long as I can remember, his idea of the perfect life was to buy a sailboat, live by the ocean or on a boat, and sail.  Of course,  part of that dream was actually learning how to sail.   After owning Seabreeze for two years,  I am convinced that Dave is his happiest onboard.  That only confirms for me we are making the right decision to sail away.

Step One

Step one of the plan was a success when I purchased Seabreeze for our anniversary two years ago.  Seabreeze is a 26ft MacGregor sailboat.  I had no idea we would plan to move and remodel her to be more like a home.  Just a small disclaimer.  When you buy a sailboat and put a ton of money into it, don’t plan on getting that money back out of it.  More than likely, the changes you are making are for your own comfort and pleasure.  They will not significantly increase the value of your boat.  What we did to enhance Seabreeze was 100% for my comfort.  We could have sailed around the Bahamas for years just the way she was when we bought her.

Step Two

So we successfully completed step one, we bought a boat.  That was great but neither one of us had ever sailed before.  We took lessons, joined a sailing club, bought books and videos.  Taking courses on sailing, navigation, and weather have just been added to our to do list.  Of course, my first thought was first aid and safety.  My husband would have skipped that topic without a second thought.  Dave is one of those nothing will go wrong type of guys.   I am the one always adding the,  “but what ifs”.  After almost 40 years together we have learned each others strengths and weaknesses and delegate accordingly.  So we are working together to make sure we are both fully prepared to go.

There really are so many things that can go wrong while you are out enjoying the salt and sun.  We needed to be prepared and have the knowledge to handle those issues.  Everything from weather, tides, illness, injuries, mechanical problems and even leaks and mold are but a few of the issues that could come up.  For this venture I am sticking to the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared”.  For me things are less scary,  if I at least have an idea of what to do.

Step Three

Where and when came next.  Florida sounded perfect to me.  However, Dave had more of a Georgia or South Carolina picture in his mind.  After a long debate Dave won.  He always wins, there is something wrong with this picture.  I agreed that the idea of sailing and kayaking the intercostal areas and down the coast, sounded wonderful.   Besides, I am a sucker for the wild horses in the Cumberland Island area.  All Dave had to do was promise me I could go see them once a year or so.  He knew  dangling that carrot,  I would following him wherever he wanted to go.

So Georgia won.   Dave works for Old Dominion Freight.  Our plan is to transfer to a terminal in either Charleston, SC or Savannah Georgia.  He will work a few more years until he retires and then sail full time.  We will rent an apartment or small house near a marina so we can sail as much as possible.  Since neither one of us have sailed on an ocean.  Cruise ships don’t count right?  Didn’t think so.  We want to get some experience before sailing off to the Bahamas after retirement.

We will be working toward step three very soon.  A vacation to Georgia and South Carolina is planned for this month.  Top on our list is to visit  the terminals he would like  to transfer to and meet the terminal managers.  Then we can explore the area to see where we might want to settle and which marina we will call home.

Step Four

Once Dave has his name in at the Georgia and South Carolina terminals, we wait.  That sounds a lot easier than it is. We have to wait for any opening so he can move in to it.   It could be a year or two but, we have plenty to do here.  Ideally, we would like to sell our house this spring and move into something smaller with less up-keep.

Our house is 1900 square feet, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and almost two acres to mow.  Our kids are grown.  We need to simplify and spend more time enjoying ourselves instead of maintaining a house and yard that is way too large for us.   Did I mention it is also located in the middle of a cornfields.  We are 2  1/2 hours from any water you can sail on.  Not good for a sailboat owner.

With step three  in progress we need to work on step four.   Dave has been working really hard at getting things done.  He insulated the attic better, replaced the roof and is now doing some painting.  We redid the kitchen last winter and will paint the outside trim this spring.  Then the realtor can come back and put it on the market.

Step Five

This actually goes hand in hand with step four.  It is of course necessary to agree not to buy anything unless it is for the boat.  We are working to downsize.  Adding more stuff is not an option.  Keeping each other on track may be a problem.  Good deals will have to be passed up for practicality.

We want to leave for Georgia with as little as possible.  If it is not essential it cannot go.  Someone gave me a great idea.  I am sorry I don’t remember who it was.  They talked about if your house was hit by a tornado today.  Would you replace that item in your hand with the insurance money.  If the answer is no,  it goes.  If you simply can’t live without it, it stays.   That includes our kayaks and bikes of course.  They will be a must in Georgia.

Downsizing is Code For Throwing Away

Keep in mind we have lived in this house for over 30 years.  Our kids were using the empty bedrooms to store their stuff.  Yes, I did say were.  I made a loud declaration this past summer, ” everything upstairs was going one way or another….come and get your crap.”  In going through the stuff  of ours and theirs we have used the box method.

One box for:

  • Each of our kids, so we can return their junk to the rightful owner.
  • Items we want  bad enough, we will pay to store them.
  • Things we need to take with us.
  • Items we are donating.
  • Things we haven’t seen or used in years and can sell.
  • Lots of large green garbage bags for things we were throwing away.

This step is much harder for Dave than it is for me.  Some of it was best done while Dave was gone.  Trust me,  he will never miss any of the stuff I threw away.  Heck, he didn’t even know he owned half of it.  He has a hard time throwing away an old stained t-shirt.  Although, I have to admit that the threat of we can’t take all this with us,  has been a good motivator for him.

We have gotten rid of all the things that we don’t use.  The kid’s are now in possession of their own junk.  I have given  much of the stuff to my daughter-in-law.  She is just beginning to store stuff.  I pretty much have the house decluttered.  There will  need to be some sort of  a sale before we leave.  I don’t want to take all these beds, 3 TVs, and furniture with us.  I do feel good that most of the items we have  just stored for 30 years, are gone.

What to Do With Good Stuff

We had to decide how to get rid of things?  First if the kids wanted something they had to come get it.  If none of the kids wanted an item,  I advertised it on craigslist or local garage sale sites on Facebook.  If they didn’t sell then I  advertised them on Ebay.  This was a last resort because shipping is a pain.  The things we donated like clothes and blankets I took to Lily Pads, a place that helps the homeless and veterans.

The last part of this step we still have to tackle this winter.  Dave’s garages are a major problem.  They are full of,  I have no idea what, but they are full.  We can put out 6 garbage cans a week of trash.  With all the cleaning out we have been reaching our maximum every week. When we start the garage we will need all 6 and then some.

Many of the tools in the garage will get moved to a new home at our son’s house in Michigan.  He is just beginning his family and house remodeling journey.  There are so many things in the garage that we keep just because we may need it someday or have the room.  All this will need to go before we can sell.  I just have to keep reminding Dave we can’t go until  it is all gone.  We have a one car garage and a detached 3 car garage. Neither one of them house a vehicle.  They are too full of stuff.

Once the house sells we will move into something small without a yard to care for.  This is where we will stay until Dave can get the job in Georgia.

Step Six

Once Dave gets hired on at a terminal in Georgia, we can pack up what little we have left.  The plan is to take only the essentials to the apartment.  Then it is a matter of moving to Georgia. There will be stuff we want to take to Georgia ,  but won’t have room for.  We can get a storage unit in Georgia for that stuff and our kayaks.  Then start our new life of sailing away.

Dave will work a few years in Georgia before he retires. This way we still have an income while we are getting settled and learning about ocean sailing.  It will also give us time to establish a home base to sail from.   After he retires we plan to sail all around the Caribbean and have the time of our lives.   I will probably try to get something part time so I don’t go crazy.  I have tried staying home full time, it wasn’t pretty and only lasted two months.

After we return from Georgia later this month, we will be well on our way to completing the hardest parts of the plan.

End Of The Season

It is with tears in my eyes I begin cleaning out the sailboat for the end of the season.  We live in Illinois, I know I am sorry too.  Things need to be prepared for winter. Although,  we store our boat in a covered hanger, it is not heated.

There are a few things to consider when you are getting your boat ready for winter in a northern state.

Electronic equipment does not like being left alone in the boat all winter.  You risk damage from battery leakage.  I bring in the handheld VHF radio, wind meter, hand held GPS, flashlights, and everything with batteries.  I take out all the batteries and put them in a plastic bag.  We can then use them in toys for the grandkids and items around the house.  I want fresh batteries in all my toys come spring.  Storing all my electronics in the house keeps it from somehow taking a walk and finding a new home.

We also bring in our boat batteries and keep them charged up. This helps them last longer.  Considering these marine batteries cost over a hundred dollars each, we want them to last for years.


Condensation and moisture in your boat are  really bad things.  You don’t want mold.  Once you have it you will forever fight it.  You will also have stains.  Mold stains are impossible to get out.  It is much easier to keep it away than it is to get rid of it.

We remove all the seat cushions and mattresses.  Some people place them on end and move them around from time to time.  Our kids are all grown and we have an extra bedroom, so we store our cushions in the house.  You will want to remove all fabric.  The fabric will hold moisture and grow mold.  With that said we remove the following items and store them in plastic tubs with cedar balls until spring.

  • towels
  • clothes
  • sails
  • paper products (mice love paper towels and toilet paper)
  • sheets
  • blankets
  • pillows
  • cushions
  • our LifeSling (because it is vinyl)
  • life jackets

This is also the time when I take the 1st aid kit and ditch bags in and go through them.  I look at all the expiration dates.  If something is going to expire before the end of the next sailing season it goes in the trash or gets put in the house medicine cabinet. I take all the food and water out of the ditch bag.  Yes, I get to eat the M&Ms.   If you take the time to make a list of everything you remove , you will have an easy time shopping and restocking come spring.

Once the boat is completely cleaned out, I wash down everything with vinegar to prevent mold.  Putting moisture absorbers  all over inside the boat will control the moisture and keep the mold at bay.  I only have to replace them once toward the end of the winter. Someone told me you can also get them at Dollar Tree.  If you attend the boat show in Chicago this January, they hand them out at the door.

Opening up all the cabinets and  storage doors will help the moisture get out and the air to circulate.


If you leave food or paper products in the boat you will come back in the spring to an extended family. I don’t know about you, but I like my family members to have only 2 legs and not 8-10 babies at a time.  So all this comes in the house.

You will want to take all the food in and use it up.  Making a list of the things you removed will help you replace it next season.  Remember the goal is to keep the mice out not feed them and to be able to get you back in the boat quickly come spring.


Putting peppermint tea bags in the corners will keep the mice and insects out. They hate peppermint. Putting peppermint tea bags near the companionway door makes the mice think twice before trying to get in.  Again, the mice do not care about the brand, cheap works just as good as premium brands.  You will  need to remove them from their sleeves. You want just the tea bag.

I also take small pine calls called doll heads and soak them in peppermint essential oil.  You do not need to buy the expensive essential oils.  Get the cheap stuff at Wal-mart.  The mice do not know the difference.  You can get the balls in the craft section of Wal-mart. They are called doll heads because they have a hole in the center.  This hole is important because it helps them become saturated with oil.  Just place the ball in a Ziploc bag and put enough oil in to coat them.  It usually take about 15-20 drops.  Then simply shake the bag to coat and let sit.  Once they are dry you just need to place them around the boat and in the cubbyholes.   

Freezing and Bursting

The last thing you want to do in the spring is replace pipes or water containers because yours froze and burst.  We take the water tanks out and empty them.  Do not forget to drain the pipes and empty out the toilet.  I run vinegar through the water lines and the toilet to keep mold and other unwanted stuff from growing.

Come spring all I need to do is throw out all the tea bags and pick up the doll heads. I actually coat them with oil again and put them back. It really seems to help keep the spiders out.  This is a good thing as far as I am concerned.

You will also want to dispose of all the moisture absorbing bags once you start taking her out again.

Spring is a good time to  wash the inside of the boat to get the winter grime out before taking  all the totes out and restocking  the boat.



Ditch Bags 101

What Is A  Ditch Bag?

Once again you are preparing for something you hope never happens. We do a lot of this in the sailing community.   This is where your ditch bag comes in.

You will want to keep this bag somewhere you can access it quickly.  We keep ours next to our hand-held VHF radio, life jackets and SPOT.  In the event that we need to abandon the ship, we can grab all these at once.

What Kind of Bag?

You want your ditch bag to be a bright color.  The brighter the items you have with you, the better the chance you will be seen by another vessel or a plane.  I added reflective tape to ours.   I have found that red and orange work best.    Your ditch bag should also be waterproof and float.  A fully loaded ditch bag should not sink.  A swimming pool is a great place to test your bags floatation.

This is the one we purchased.  Just make sure the one you get fits all the specifications above.

So What Do I Need In It?

A good rule of thumb is to prepare for a few days and get rescued in a few hours.  So, with that said, you will want food and water. We have granola bars, protein bars, nuts, trail mix, dried fruit and a couple EMR’s (Emergency meal replacements).  You can get these at most outdoor stores.  In our bag I also pack vitamin M.  Yes, I do mean M&M’s.  They last a long time when hot, and they are great for energy. Besides, they melt in your mouth not in your hands.    I am a princess at heart and chocolate is my comfort food.  If I have to wait to be rescued it might as well be with chocolate.  You can seal all your food items up with a food saver system.

Remember to replace these items every sailing season.  Every fall I take these items out of our bag and we eat them.  And no, it is not just an excuse to eat the M&M’s, as if I needed one.  You don’t want to give these items a chance to mold or spoil.  Yes, even water has an expiration date.  I haven’t figured that one out yet.  There is no expiration date stamped on my well out back.     Our bag has  a couple bottles of water, as well as a  water purifying straw.  You can buy special emergency water in foil bags, but to me that seems really expensive and laughable.  You can call it emergency H2O but it is still water.

Other Items In Our Bag

You will already have a strobe light and whistle on your life jacket so you won’t need those in your bag.

  • marine flares
  • waterproof flash light
  • small emergency 1st aid kit.
  • sunscreen- Remember we are preparing for days hoping for hours.
  • lip balm
  • hat (keeping your head cool is half the battle)
  • cooling rags ( I have just added these to our bags.  These are the ones you soak in water and snap to activate)
  • Bonine ( Someone suggested taking this as you leave the ship.  Floating in waves can cause a loss of stomach contents)
  • fishing line and a hook (we have ours in a small Altoids mint container)
  • knife
  • space blanket
  • long sleeved shirt to protect you from the sun
  • waterproof matches
  • light sticks
  • A waterproof container with a  copy of your birth certificate, passport and drivers license in it.  ( I sealed ours up in a food saver bag)
  • If you have a spare pair of glasses this would be a good place to store them
  • a small amount of cash

Remember, the ditch bag will be stored next to your handheld VHF radio, SPOT or other beacon, life jacket (with strobe and whistle attached) and your cell phone in a water proof case.  I use a Life Proof IPhone case as my case.  It DOES NOT float but it is waterproof. All of this is stored near our emergency air horn so we can also grab that.

Think of it this way.  If you have to abandon ship… you are prepared for the worst.  If you don’t you get to eat M&M’s guilt free every fall.

First-Aid First: Emergency Medical Kits

First-aid kits fall into the “hope-we-never-have-to-use-it” category.  If you never have to use your  kit, great,  smile and just replace the items as they expire.

The first aid kits that you buy for your home or vehicle are for minor issues.  On a sailboat you are going to need more advanced first aid training and equipment.  Toes get broken, fish hook accidents, and illnesses happen.  You can’t call 911 and have an ambulance on site in minutes.  It is important that you know how to deal with emergencies on your own.

Expiration Check-Up

Next to having a kit, the most important thing is to check your kit for expired items.  I check ours every fall when I take things out of the sailboat for the winter.  If an item will expire before the end of the next sailing season, I place it in our home medical cabinet to be used.  This gives me the winter to restock our boat kit.   I go through our car and hiking kits at the same time.  A good rule of thumb is that most items will last 2-3 years.

One thing I feel is important to stress is that you do not want cardboard or paper packages on your boat.  Cockroaches, spiders and all sorts of multi-legged creatures including mice, love paper products as homes.  I take everything including my first aid supplies out of the packaging and seal them in plastic.  I use the food saver system and put them in small bags.

Other Things to Have Onboard

You want to be sure your VHF radio is in good working order so you can call for help.  Do not rely on your cell phone.  Murphy lives on all sailboats.   You  can count on your cell phone not working when an emergency happens. Unless you are planning a crossing you probably won’t need a satellite phone.

Our Cobra radio has a GPS built in.  It sends our location when we call out for help.  In case it is not working  or for when we are out kayaking, I have a SPOT (emergency beacon) onboard.  This SPOT will also come in handy if you have to abandon the boat.  It pinpoints exactly where you are so the coast guide can rescue you. You need only push one button and help comes.  Remember it has to be a real emergency.  The coast guard frowns upon being summoned because you are out of toilet paper.  Don’t laugh, it has happened.

A spot can put your loved ones at ease.  Let your loved ones know that you will send them an e-mail message nightly.  This device will send them your location and the message you specify.  Ours is set to send , “We are fine and all is good. ” 

First-Aid Instructions

You should have a comprehensive first-aid book onboard. Here are a few we have found helpful.  If you only get one this is my favorite.


Most important is that you learn First Aid and CPR training.  There is a feeling of peace knowing that if someone I love suffers a heart attack, I know what to do until help arrives.  Help can take a long time to reach you when you are in the middle of the Great Lakes or down in the Keyes.  Keep in mind you are not just training for emergencies on the boat,  you may be off the boat hiking when someone needs help.

You will notice I did not say take a class.  Although it is helpful to take a class, it can be costly.  Last year Dave and I had to recertify with the Red Cross.  I was shocked that they charge $70.00 a person to recertify and it can  cost $110.00 to take the classes for the first time.   It should never cost that much to learn how to save a life. When I first became certified it cost $20.00. If you do not want to take a class you can order the class manual and self study.

Buying  First-Aid Kits

You can buy a basic first-aid kit in the camping section or pharmacy section at  Wal-mart.  We carry a basic kit in our backpack and in our car. A basic kit goes with us when we leave the boat to hike.  Although, those kits are good they will not be sufficient for life on a sailboat.  Remember, it is easy to get paramedics to a park, but not so easy to get them to a sailboat.

In our basic kits we also put a bottle of New Skin, a package of Quik Clot and a CPR barrier. These items do not come in a normal first-aid kit.  New Skin will create a barrier so dirt and bacteria can’t enter a wound and stop the bleeding. 

  The CPR barrier protects you.  You many not know the background of the person you are giving mouth to mouth.  I like this one because it comes in a crush proof box to keep it clean.  

In case,  you do not want to build your own, you can order a  kit that is pretty extensive. Although , this one is pretty expensive it is my favorite since it is military grade.   

Here is a basic waterproof kit you can add too.

Putting Together Your Own Kit

If you decide to put together your own kit, they sell empty waterproof cases.

Items that should definitely be in your case.

You are on a sailboat and most likely someone will be fishing. Make sure you carry a small wire cutter and a pair of needle nose pliers in your kit.

  • alcohol (it stings but it works)
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • wound wash
  • Quik Clot bleeding arrest 
  • hydration powder-pedialyte
  • gloves
  • instant ice packs
  • 10 of different sizes waterproof  bandages
  • 20-butterfly closures
  • 5-non-stick dressing
  • gauze sponges ( have feminine pads in case you need to stop a large bleed. You can put them on top the sterile bandage.)
  • 20 large square gauze pads
  • 20 small square gauze pads
  • creape bandage 3″
  • creape bandage 4″
  • roll medical tape
  • 3M Vetbond tissue adhesive  (yes this is sold for animals but it is the same thing ERs use for larger wounds)
  • New skin (for small cuts)
  • elastic bandages for ankles and wrists
  • arm sling
  • motor-sickness pills
  • cold medications
  • 20 antiacids
  • 12 immodium tablets
  • bentadine or iodine swabs
  • triple antibiotic cream
  • lidocaine cream ( especially good when getting out fish hooks)
  • You will also want a compact pair of wire cutters for cutting the barbs off fish hooks.
  • antifungal cream
  • Benadryl lotion for insect bites and poison weeds
  • Benadryl pills
  • Excedrin for headaches (I prefer this to Tylenol or Ibuprofen)
  • Ibuprofen for swelling
  • Bio-Freeze for muscle pain
  • aspirin for sunburn ( it helps lower the body temp and stop the burn)
  • vinegar ( I keep a small bottle for sunburn and jelly fish stings. Dave has experience with this one.  It is best not to play with a sea creature you can’t identify.  If you don’t know what it is,  leave it alone.)
  • Antibiotics- If you are going off shore talk to your doctor about getting a script.  Most doctors are quite helpful with this.  I know people who have gone to farm stores and purchased antibiotics in the livestock section.  This is not my first choice.  I would rather get a physicians order for the right dosages
  • Goldenseal- I use this when I feel something coming on (natural antibiotic)
  • Sen-o-kot for constipation
  • aloe for sunburn
  • burn creams
  • thermometer
  • blood pressure cuff (if you are trained to use one)
  • triangular bandage
  • tweezers
  • bent scissors
  • finger splints
  • Oral gel and crown/filling temporary repair kit, in case of a dental emergency.
  • oil of cloves is also helpful for tooth aches
  • I prefer a natural antibiotic cream 
  • A natural first aid lotion 
  • If I go to the dentist and need a prescription for a pain killer. I keep the extras to take onboard.

You May Want

I am all about natural and herbal. I carry Goldenseal. It is a natural antibiotic.  I take it at the first signs of a urinary tract infection or an illness and it works great for me.  Disclaimer, if I take this and am not feeling better after a few days it is time to seek medical attention.  

Remember you are building a kit you don’t want to ever use.  You are training for emergencies you hope to never witness.  Of course,  that does not mean you should not be prepared for that worst case scenario.  What is that boy scout motto again?