Find out what gear has worked for us for sailing, cruising and living aboard for over 10 years since 2006. The lists below include our research details and personal experience with each item, including our recommendations (or non-recommendation) and handy (sometimes affiliate) links for your reference.
We have a modern boat and are not afraid to push the envelope and test new gear and gadgets as long as the science makes sense, so you’ll find both the new and unconventional as well as oldies but goldies under this category.
Battery bank, 1100 amp-hours: 10 x Lifeline Marine AGM Battery – GPL-4CT. We have been beyond impressed with these batteries – we installed them in 2007 and they are still outputting about 60%. We believe it was a combination of the quality of Lifeline AGMs and the fact that we over-sized our bank to start with.
Solar array, 1.6 KW: 2 x Kyocera 325Watts (not available online anymore) and 10x Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel. Amazingly enough, Amazon shipped these to Hawaii free of charge.
Midnite Solar KID MMPT controllers, networked 4x: Midnite Solar KID MPPT Charge Controller
Honda 2000 generator: Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Portable Inverter Generator. We wish we could completely give up fossil fuel generators, but this one comes in handy when it’s rainy, or when we want to fry up some bacon. It’s built like a tank and starts every time if you do the proper maintenance.
Battery Charger: ProMariner ProNauticP Series 1240P 12-Volts 40-Amp Battery Charger. We just purchased this to upgrade our 20A charger.
Inverter: Xantrex PROWatt 2000 Inverter. We originally had the Hunter setup with an older Xantrex charger/inverter all in one. We needed a pure sine wave to run the espresso machine and the washer and drier, and we’ve been happy with this since.
Watermaker: Village Marine Tec LWM 300 GPD, 12 V. Not available anymore. The 12 Volt Little Wonder Series is rated to about 12.5 to 15 GPH however the output varies with temperature and salinity. In tropical waters in Hawaii and Mexico the output is between 8 and 10 GPH. We changed the membrane once, but otherwise it’s been trouble free. We love that we can run it all on solar.
TDS Meter: HM Digital Water Quality TDS Tester
50 gallon integrated water tank: came with the boat, still in great shape after 11 years. No funny smells or taste.
Note: Our boat came with two water tanks, but we converted the other into a diesel tank.
We removed the LPG system and converted to electric cooking. We eat low carb and the only ‘cooking’ we do is really grilling steak, fish, veggies and frying up bacon and eggs. In lieu of the stove we installed a countertop dishwasher which does a great job at washing the dishes with a lot less water than us imperfect humans.
Espresso machine: Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine by De’Longhi with Aeroccino. This is the most important item in our galley.
Cuisinart Grill: Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler. I did a whole lot of research to find the best electric grill that can cook a proper steak and not kill the power in the process. I’ve been really impressed with this grill. The removable plates will need replacing from time to time if you grill a lot.
Oster pan/skillet: Oster DuraCeramic Electric Skillet, 12-Inch. We use this mainly for bacon and eggs. It works great, and it’s easy to clean.
Worth mentioning: we also have a Magma Newport Gas Grill on the back rail, however we use it infrequently due to mostly windy conditions in Hawaii. In general, I am not impressed with the (in)precision of heat distribution on the grill. We used to have a SeaBQ we were much happier with back in Seattle and Mexico but it rusted shut on the Baja Bash back (we should have stored it in a locker).
Hot water kettle: Bodum Water Kettle
Oster mini-blender: Oster 250-Watt Blender. Hello, Bulletproof Coffee! This is a great little blender, and it doubles for mixed ice drinks too.
Ninja mini food processor: Ninja Express Chop Food Chopper
Microwave: Tappan mini-microwave, came with the boat. We don’t microwave food much, it’s mainly for hot water or Mac&Cheese for passages only. It works well but it has lower power than household microwaves so things take about 30% longer to heat/cook.
Dishwasher: EdgeStar Countertop Portable Dishwasher for 6 Place Settings. This thing is awesome not only because well, it does the dishes for you, but also because it uses very little water. It has a high power draw for about 5 mins to heat up the water, as it doesn’t have hot water input. We usually run it while running the Honda generator, about twice a week.
Fridge: Waeco CoolMatic RSD-115, 111 liters capacity. This is a modern, air cooled, front-load model and we love its capacity and convenience for retrieving items. It’s been humming along from Seattle to Mexico to California to Hawaii for 11 years now with no issues.
Freezer: Waeco CoolMatic RHD-50, 50 liters capacity. Same as the fridge, this freezer has been super convenient and it freezes like a champion. I can deep-freeze a load of steaks overnight and make ice in 4-5 hours.
Washer and Dryer: Splendide Combo Washer/Dryer. We have the ventless condensation model however we would recommend the vented one. We chose the ventless one in order to avoid putting in a new vent, but the dry cycle is very time and water consuming. We mostly just air-dry our clothes now that we are in the tropics. A couple of Clip and Drip Hangers make air-drying a breeze (heh you see what I did there?). Towel Clips are also great for keeping your laundry on the rail and out of the water when the breeze kicks in. I have them in Ducky, Dolphin and Nemo and I’m strongly considering the Flamingoes.
Cabin fans: 2x Caframo Sirocco Gimbal Fan. They are quiet and move a lot of air. The first set corroded after 2 years in Mexico, and we’ve had the second set installed for 2.5 years not and still going strong. I wonder if running them constantly actually keeps them from corroding because these look a lot better.
BOSE 321 stereo and speakers: these came with the boat and have their own inverter. The quality of the setup and sound is awesome and the subwoofer is a beast (power draw, size, and sound). We love having them for movie nights and the occasional disco ball dance party and we only blew them once cranking up the volume too high (oops). Bose repaired them and the warranty has been great. We will likely not replace them with another BOSE when they finally capitulate – we found a great little Bluetooth speaker and we could use the space left behind by the sub.
Bluetooth waterproof speaker: AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speakers . Small package, big sound. Pretty awesome portable speakers we use when watching movies off the 12 inch iPad or for dingy safaris/parties.
Cockpit speakers: BazookaMarine 10-Inch 250 Watt Bass Tube Speakers. In case you didn’t notice, speakers are important to us. Because we like to have dance parties in our huge cockpit, and sometimes in the saloon. These speakers are for ski boats, but they fit our arch rail perfectly.
Cockpit stereo: Fusion Entertainment Marine Stereo with Bluetooth. We have the older model, which unfortunately was larger than this one and makes it harder to upgrade without leaving a bit hole behind. We recommend the newer Bluetooth version.
Vizio LCD TV: We have an older 32 inch model from 2010 which doesn’t take too much power however you can get much better/more efficient LED TVs now. We connect it to an Apple TV to watch Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon TV, and News. The ‘smart’ part of the TV is useless. It’s a great movie night screen, and very convenient at the dock however we would probably consider simplifying the setup going forward with a large iPad (12 inch) and wireless speakers.
Luci lights: MPOWERD Luci Color-Changing Inflatable Solar Light. We love those things. We’ve had one hanging in the cockpit for 2 years and it’s still going strong.
iPhone cables: AmazonBasics Lightning to USB A Cable. This might be silly but we can not buy enough of those. We like to have them available in every socket and in the cockpit, usually connected to a 12V Anker 24W Dual USB Car Charger.
Life raft: VIKING RescYou Liferaft 6 Person Offshore mounted on the back rail.
Life jackets: 2x Mustang Survival Inflatable PFD with HIT (Auto Hydrostatic) with Harness with 2x Safety Tether
PLBs: ACR Aqualink PLB and ACR PLB-375 ResQLink+ 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon. We are considering buying the AIS versions.
Satellite phone: BlueCosmo Iridium GO! Satellite Phone Wi-Fi Hotspot. It’s been working great for 3 years, and it connects well with Predict Wind for weather forecasting and routing.
iPhones & iPads: Unlocked iPhone 6S+, iPhone SE, 2x iPad Air, and iPad Pro 12 inch. We can easily pop in SIMs from other countries to get data access, and we use navigation software on all. Our main nav is an onboard Raymarine system with Radar and AIS, and we use SEAiq on the iPads/iPhones with Navionics as back-up.
WIFI Antenna: We’ve been dragging around Ubiquiti BULLET antenna since 2009. I look forward to finally using it in French Polynesia, where I’ve heard WIFI hotspots are all the rage.
AB Inflatable: AB Ventus 9 VL, 9’6”, 106 lbs. We love the deep V-shaped hull and the oversized thick tubes which make for a pretty dry ride. We have the hypalon tube version and it’s been holding great so far with no cover or chaps (we like simple). We bought it used in 2011.
Torqueedo engine: Torqueedo Travel 1003. We are big fans of electric everything, so we made the leap in 2015 to switch to an all electric Torqueedo. We love the engine, although we miss the speed, and manage our range anxiety by running what-if scenarios repeatedly and bringing additional batteries on longer trips. Things we might consider in the future: solar panel charging in the dingy, and potentially buying another gasoline engine to be used ONLY for long trips around lagoons and such.
Inflatable paddle boards: We have a Red Paddle Co VOYAGER 12’6 Inflatable SUP which is great for solo or tandem paddling and a more generic and much cheaper 10′ Inflatable SUP. I have to say, for the price difference the Red is not worth it. We’ve had it for 3 years and it’s already starting to delaminate. For now, we continue to enjoy them both. We keep them in a Storage Rack that attaches to our rail when we are in port and deflate them and store them below during passages. We splurged on the nicer Kialoa Adjustable SUP Paddle and we are glad we did – a good paddle makes a huge difference. We also bought kayak paddles which transforms the boards in sit-on-top kayaks.
Dive masks, snorkels, fins: Cressi Big Eyes Evolution CRYSTAL Scuba Diving Mask in pink and blue, Cressi Supernova Dry snorkel, and Cressi Pluma fins. For the mask, make sure to get a proper fit in a store.
Floaties: Intex River Run II Sport Lounge because why not.
Hookah: AirLine’s R360XL Hookah Dive System. We’ve had this since 2009 and it’s an awesome way to dive. Comes in handy cleaning the bottom of the boat too.
iPhone waterproof case: Moonmini MEIKON 130ft Diving Case for iPhone 6+. So far so good, but I might need a red filter.
GoPro: GoPro HERO3. This is an older model, still works well and we have tons of attachments for it, underwater and above water. It’s a pain to get the footage off though, like most other GoPro’s.