27 June 2014

Shakedown Cruise Review: Wish List For Our Next Boat (Pt 2/4)

Background - When we decided to become full-time cruisers, rather than buy our "forever" boat and set off around the world, we took a different approach and moved aboard our "for now" boat in New Zealand for the 2013/14 season. We used it as an opportunity to do a shakedown cruise to discover what works and what doesn't for us in terms of the cruising lifestyle before we buy our next boat. This is the fourth in a series of posts on how it all went.

In the last post, we talked about the stuff that we want that makes life easier - like a windlass, lazy jacks, roller reefing and self-tailing winches. In this post, we're sharing our wish list for down below. 

1. The Galley

Many a magical meal was cooked on this stove. And by "magical", I mean pretty much pasta with red sauce almost every night. I need new recipes!
One of the most important parts of a boat for me is the galley. On our last boat, our galley was pretty minimally equipped but functional. And by "functional", I mean we had a two burner stove and a sink with one freshwater tap. We had a reasonable amount of counter space on which to prepare food. One catch though - we tied up a spare water can on the counter which made 2/3 of it unusable most of the time. 

While we managed to survive without a fridge or an oven, these are two things that are on my wish list for our next boat. If I have to pick one over the other, I think it would be a fridge. (Hopefully, I don't have to make that choice!) Having a fridge onboard does involve some trade-offs, like power consumption and the space that it takes up.  But I think it will be well worth it in terms of food storage and more choices about what we can eat. Our next boat may already have a fridge on it, in which case, we'll work with what we get. But if we end up having to install a refrigeration system, it seems like there are a lot of choices to make. Carolyn from The Boat Galley has an interesting article about all the things to think about which I've bookmarked. If you aren't familiar with her site, there are great articles on everything galley related. One of my go to places when it comes to thinking about and planning for the galley in our next boat.

An oven sounds fabulous too - primarily in terms of baking bread. I haven't actually used an oven very often on land over the past several year as the flats I've lived in have those small half ovens which I don't think are really effective as the food is too close to the heating element. Since I'm out of "practice" using an oven, we can probably make do without.

The other thing I think would be really useful is two taps - one for freshwater and one for saltwater. We used saltwater a lot for washing dishes, usually out in the cockpit in a bucket. Would be so much easier to be able to wash in the sink with saltwater on tap. And if I could have two sinks that would be swell too!

2. Sleeping

The settee that Scott slept on and my little v-berth nest. I bet you love the 70s vibe we were rocking with that awesome plaid fabric!
We must, must, must have a better quarters for sleeping on our next boat! On our old boat, Scott slept on the settee because the v-berth was too small for him to sleep comfortably in. Especially if he shared it with me. It was so cramped and elbows and knees were everywhere. So the v-berth became my little nest, which I shared with the laundry, provisions and other bits and bobs. Neither of us really slept well and sleep deprivation is a real drag. It makes people cranky. In an ideal world, our next boat will have a center-line queen size bed. One that is relatively easy to get in and out of and with plenty of room for both of us to sleep comfortably in. This might even be more important than a fridge. But to be honest, a center-line queen size bed probably isn't going to happen on the size of boats we'll be looking at (35-38'). But a girl can dream.

3.  Good Engine Access

Our trusty Yanmar engine which never gave us any problems. Praise be to all the engine deities watching over us! We had pretty decent access to the engine by removing the companionway. It wasn't always easy to top up the diesel, but it was manageable.
Kind of a no brainer, but having good engine access on our next boat is pretty high up on our wish list. I read so many stories about people who struggle to get access to their engine and have to contort themselves in strange positions to be able to see what's going on and fix things. (Not that anything ever breaks on a boat.)

4. The Head

We're simple people - we just want one head. Our next boat will probably be somewhere around 35-38' and it is just the two of us, so I can't see why we would ever want a boat with two heads. Just takes up valuable space that can be put to better use. If our next boat comes with two heads, I'm pretty sure somewhere along the line we would remove one and convert it into something else. Like extra space to store my supply of chocolate and cookies. 

We didn't have a shower on our last boat and instead used a solar shower in the cockpit. I would love to have a shower on our next boat, but I really want it to be a separate part of the head. I hate those set-ups where you shower while standing in the middle of the head which gets water everywhere. I do realize that this may be one of those trade-offs we have to make. I also want a toilet whose seat doesn't break and slide off at the most inopportune time. Like when you're using it and the boat is heeled way over. Yep, this has happened to me

5. Other Bits & Bobs

And some other bits & bobs on our wish list include a separate chart table, no carpet, a good sound system and pretty cushions and upholstery. Okay, that last one is just on my wish list. It should prove to be interesting if our next boat has hideous cushions and upholstery. I know that will be one of the things I'll want to change first. After all, our boat will be our home and I would like to live in something aesthetically pleasing. I suspect Scott's priorities will be a bit different. 

We both agree that a separate chart table would be very desirable. Our last boat was just 26' so we didn't have a chart table which made things awkward at times. And we both absolutely agree that we do not want carpet on our next boat. What a nightmare to keep clean! I also shed hair like there's no tomorrow so the carpet on our last boat was constantly coated with it. And if you spill anything, then you have to worry about stains. So carpet is a no-no on our next boat. And finally, a good sound system would be a huge bonus for us on our next boat. We had one on our last boat and it was great to be able to listen to music down below and in the cockpit. 

So there you go - our wish list for down below. What's on your list? 

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  1. Great list so far.

    The centerline queen was a big one for us. There are a few models in your size range that have them but they are mostly fin keels: Catalina 350 & 380; Hunter Legends; our Catalina 310 (a little smaller than your size range). So how comfortable you feel cruising in a fin keel will come into play. We are fine with it while others think we are plan made. Everyone's got there own opinion on that subject. But I can tell you that every now and then I will look to see if we should upgrade before we go cruising (actually like once a week I go on Yacht World just to see what's new). Every time I see an interesting boat, the main berth is what kills the idea of upgrading. With a centerline queen that is 1/2 walk around we can get in and out of bed without waking the other person. That is just something we are not willing to change.

    On the galley, we have a 2-burner stove with an oven. It's propane. For the most part it's too hot in the summer to use the oven. It just heats up the cabin too much. But we do use during other parts of the year. Our grill is definitely the most used cooking item on the boat.

    A bigger head is probably the biggest thing I wish we had on our boat. Being able to use it comfortably and shower in it would be huge. For the most part we just end up showing in the cockpit with the transom shower. This can be a little awkward in the northeast in some anchorages but in the Caribbean it was pretty common.

    Good luck with your search.


    1. Great tips on smaller boats with centre-line queen beds - will check them out.

      Personally, I'm not really too fussed about the type of keel - there are pros/cons which ever way you go. I know that full keels give you a bit more stability, but we had a modified fin keel on our last boat and it seemed to work fine. Of course, we didn't take her offshore and that's an important consideration.

      And a grill - we must have a grill! I have daydreams about eating freshly grilled steaks, sausages, fish etc. in the cockpit of our boat. Ideally, I would like an oven but realise that I won't probably use it as much in warmer climates.

      Keep the tips coming - really appreciate them!


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