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Simple Things for the "Sailing Life"

Owning a boat has an oxymoronic quality to it. "The simple life" can be pretty complex--I think of it as having a plane, a car, and a house compressed into a very small space. This specialized environment calls for specialized equipment and tactics...sometimes. In spite of what marine retailers would like us to think, there are a number of 'normal' (and inexpensive) items that we can put to very efficient use aboard our boats. For example:

  • For easy lighting that won't impair your night vision, stock red cellophane (the kind you get in rolls in a gift wrap store) and rubber bands. Cut squares to fit over flashlights and rubber band them in to place.

  • Forget buying purpose-made bag clips. Clothespins can do double duty by securing laundry to the life lines as well as keeping the bag of potato chips (or whatever) closed. And only use rubber covered clothespins--the metal hinges on the wooden ones rust out in about five seconds in a marine environment.

  • When the clothes dryer eats a sock, don't throw away its mate. Save those unmatched socks to use as jar and bottle covers aboard the boat. They provide good shock absorbency.

  • If you haven't completely switched over to a digital camera, you should have plastic film canisters hanging around. Reuse them for storage aboard the boat--small fittings, pill boxes, herbs/spices, anything small that needs a compact home.

  • Have several plastic spray bottles on board. Besides their use for cleaning solutions (e.g., a bleach/water combination for controlling mildew),

    they are great 'hand showers'. Douse yourself on hot days to encourage evaporative cooling. And when you're out on the ocean and go over the side for a bath, use a spray bottle to rinse yourself off with fresh water-- works great. Just make sure you keep your cleaning solution bottles separate from your shower bottles!

  • If you aren't already doing so, save your old toothbrushes for cleaning and maintenance on the boat. There are loads of tight places above and below decks where a small brush works great. One overlooked spot: Use a toothbrush to clean the inside of anchor chain links.

  • You can never have too many zip-locking bags. Keep several sizes available, and use them for more than just food storage. Spare parts, clothes, office equipment, medicines, and lots of other stuff will pack more compactly when transferred to zip locking bags. And reuse the bags: invert, wash, and then hang to dry with those double-duty clothespins.

These are just a few examples of the use of 'non-marine' things that have a place aboard a boat.

(c)Copyright 2004 Kerry S. Mason

About The Author

Kerry Mason is the webmaster for, The #1 resource on the Internet for sailing, boating and water sports enthusiasts. Be sure to visit his complete archive of articles at...

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