Our ‘must haves’ might be different than yours, and probably will. However, these are the things that we have already found that we wouldn’t want to be without!
*None of these are sponsored recommendations, just things we’ve bought that we truly enjoy. We do make a few pennies off of the amazon links if you click through our site, but don’t feel like you *need* to order through here. Just a way for us to gradually add a little to our cruising kitty!
1. Anti-Monkey Butt Powder. The sweaty-chafing that happens when you’re in a hot and humid environment is insane. It doesn’t help if you’re carrying extra weight, but even the super fit ones on board were dealing with the pain of chafing. We tried all of the recommended lotions, creams, deodorants with pretty much NO luck at all. I finally ordered this powder off of amazon and… VIOLA! It actually WORKS. Not only that, it appears to work far longer than I expected. I don’t ever want to run out of this stuff!
2. Cards/Card Games. These take up so much of our time when the weather is a little too windy/chilly/whatever to be outside. Its a great way to unwind together and have some fun and it is definitely one of my favorite new habits since moving aboard! I use my not-so great plastic containers for organizing games and I found these amazingly nifty little colorful containers at Dollar Tree that hold a regular sized deck of playing cards for the smaller games.
3. Giant super insulated drink cups. We ended up going to the local convenience store “Race Trac” in Florida and buying a refillable 64 ounce cup for each of us. Fill it up in the morning with ice and it stays at LEAST really cold all day. We found that without them none of us were drinking enough water and we were getting tired, cranky and achey. Now we are rarely far from our giant mugs. **Lime juice for me. I add it to my water all the time, it helps me get past the ‘taste’ of varying water supplies.
4. Meal “mixes”. I don’t want to leave the US without stocking up on Bisquik and these soup mixes!!!
I enjoy cooking and creating recipes a lot, however since being on the boat, its obvious that some days we’re just too busy going all day or the store is way too far for a quick trip and the fresh foods I’m used to living with aren’t always available. I found these soup/entree ‘mixes’ at Big Lots for $2 – $3 each. They make 8 servings and I usually add in a can of beans, diced tomatoes, dehydrated meats, etc, whatever sounds good and we have at least two meals from it. Its mindless cooking and doesn’t take long. Bring it to a boil and stick it in the wonderbag.
Extra bonus: All of the spices are included in non-cardboard sealed bags, so I don’t have to worry about keeping a huge variety of spices on hand OR repacking the meals when they come on board. I think these will be a big staple for us going forward (at least until we leave Florida) because they add a variety to our meal planning and with the addition of different canned/dried foods, its like a different meal every time.
I will also add dumplings (thanks to Bisquik, they’re even easier) when we are in the mood, because YUM. My kids will eat an entire pan if I put dumplings in pretty much anything chicken flavored! The dumplings also help thicken the soup considerably, making it far less messy!
5. A big enough dinghy. We started out with a 10 foot long dinghy. With 6 people that was way too small. It was used and wasn’t intended to be our long term dinghy, but we thought it would suffice. It DID, in a way. I mean we got back and forth to the boat, but because it was so small, we were soaked through most of the time. It was nearly impossible to take a dinghy ride without getting wet because we rode so low in the water. When we got provisions, we had to take turns getting out to the boat because we didn’t all fit.
Having a new 14 foot dinghy has made a big difference for us. It meant that not only could all 6 of us fit in it without problems, but when Kainan and Kara came to visit, we all fit PLUS them PLUS their luggage! We love it and I consider it money well spent. Now I need to do some research on dinghy chaps and see if that is something we need to do.
6. Art/Hobby Supplies. With my artsy family, art supplies were a must. Even though it takes up a lot of room, we brought some bigger canvases, bulk paints and brushes. We already had them and I couldn’t see selling them at a loss when I know we’ll use them here. We can always sell the artwork that we put on the canvases later, but this was something I wasn’t willing to go without. I want the kids to have the resources to be creative.
That being said, we also have sketch books, watercolor papers and quality paints and pencils. I feel that it is important at their ages to support their talents and hobbies, so I’m willing to spend the extra money on the good stuff. When they were little, we just bought the cheapest so that we always had plenty, now that the love of art has settled in, I don’t mind buying the ‘real’ supplies. Besides, look at the things they create, they’ve really all developed their talents!
7. Musical Instruments. Music is something we all love. Most of us love to sing and wish we could play some sort of instrument. We bought a few for the boat, inexpensive versions for now to see if anything ‘sticks’ now that we have the free time to work with them.
The ukulele is a DEFINITE keeper! Both Abyni and Paris picked it up SO fast, it was incredible. We also got a drum, a melodica and brought a guitar. Jazz has an accordian as well. We’re just now starting to mess with these other instruments, but we definitely felt it was important for us all to have access to making music as we went.
8. Kindles/Books. We all love to read. I had to get rid of hundreds and hundreds of books when we thinned stuff down. I did bring a box or two of books and I’m glad I did because I’ve already read (and then donated) a ton.
Thus far we’ve gotten two kindles. Its obvious that we’re going to need more, because trading them back and forth is already a pain. Besides, anything we can do to encourage more reading is good! I kept my eye out for good deals on kindle books before we left and got the kids’ favorite series/authors on there as well (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, John Green, several Sci-Fi/Fantasy series, etc). Now we just need to hunt down some more used kindles to share between us all!
9. Wonderbag. Bar none, this is the most useful galley item I bought. If you have an oven and are cramped for space, you might not want one because they are somewhat bulky, but its been a life saver for us.
I can save on electricity or propane by just boiling/getting a dish up to temperature on the stove and then sticking it in the wonderbag to finish cooking. I also use it to keep a dish hot when we’re not all back at the boat at the same time but some of us are ragningly hangry and need to eat 😉
10. Ceramic-Non Stick Pans. I hate to clean. I hate washing dishes. So do the kids. Getting new, non-stick pans was a MUST for me. Our pans at home were all mismatched, cheapo pans that we’ve collected over the years from garage sales, hand me downs, etc. Any that were non-stick at some point, no longer were. I bought a whole set at WalMart for around $80.00 and I’m so glad I did. With the hassle of washing dishes in the small galley and without hot water currently, I can not imagine trying to mess with old, crappy, food-stuck-to-them pans every day. Plus, I got my first set of ‘nice’ pans AND they’re pretty 😉 The only problem is that they seem to be fairly delicate. I love them, but I wouldn’t buy this same set again. Since we’re on a boat and space is of the essence, I’ve been stacking them inside of each other and that is apparently enough to cause them to get scratched. However, they’re still non-stick, just not as ‘pretty’ and I certainly expected them to stay nicer than they did.
ALSO: Ice. Sorry to say it, but I think ice might be just that important to me. It wasn’t half as much of an issue back on land, but whilst trying to acclimate to the heat, we’ve all been pretty desperately wanting ice on a regular basis. We don’t have refrigeration yet and we’re actually debating getting an ice maker instead.
So yeah, the ice maker might not actually be a “must have” for most people… but man, I think we REALLY want one! 🙂