Boating and boating equipment has changed so much in my short life it’s mind boggling. My first piece of navigational equipment was a very large Loran that cost nearly $2,000.00. Now you can put a GPS in your shirt pocket for just over $ 100.00 that gives you global, not area coverage. The old Flasher Fathometer has been replaced with Color Recorders that give you enough information to almost forecast the smell of your favorite catch cooking. Radars are now common gear on power vessels as well as auxiliary sailing vessels due to drastic price reductions competition and new technology.
Recently I surveyed a 54’sport Fish who’s radar was linked to the Chart Plotter and the Plotter was linked to the GPS that was linked to the Auto Pilot. You could literally sit down at the Plotter, enter your weigh points, crank up, cast off your lines and the boat would deliver you to your desired destination.
We have an inverter on our boat that will make AC out of DC and provide our PC with clean power, runs our microwave for my bag of night watch popcorn and entertain our daughter with videos to name a few. We all have so many conveniences available to us it’s hard to sort through the options. I have been rethinking my boat and now realize that it’s now much too complicated for my liking. I made a mental list of the pieces of equipment that I could competently fix and the fixable ones were dwarfed by the non-fixable ones. So what’s important on a boat? What are the minimums for me as a sailor who loves to voyage? Well my hair is gray and I love my refrigeration so that’s now not an option, it stays. I’ve received much needed medical advise from afar so the Ham or Single Side Band is necessary for me. I don’t like to be chained to the helm and the AutoPilot gives me all sorts of freedoms. We have two of these things, one electronic and one mechanical named “Joshua” because he led the people across the Jordan to the promised land. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are so cheap now we have two just in case the big fuse blows, we have a back up. We have an offshore life raft and an Epirb. I would like a Star Sat eventually but my budget won’t allow it just now. We have an adequate Fathometer and an old boat that has carried us many a mile.
But the most important single piece of equipment on board is the woman. Now girls don’t take offense at the term equipment. My dear wife has put up with my lack of knowledge and experience. My tendency of increasing the volume and harshness of speech when things were going wrong or getting scary. She has nursed me back to health when I fell ill in some third world ports. She has helped me lighter fuel, water, stores, replace engines, and assisted me in all sorts of nasty jobs and had the patience to allow me to learn along the way. She has been right by my side sanding, painting, grinding steel, servicing sails and delivering up some of the most wonderful meals imaginable while underway. She has stood her watch in raging seas and allowed me to sleep an extra hour or two because she is a great shipmate. Of all the joys of voyaging, she’s on the top of the list. We have shared swimming with the whales and the awesome wonder of deserted tropical island anchorages. She has blessed me by being a mother to our child and exercised the courage to go to sea with an infant. Of all the gifts of life, I thank God for this woman who has been my companion and friend. Shipmate take another look at all you have and who’s gone with you along the way and let her know she’s more important than the boat.