We started with a sound, well built boat, but spent months doing modifications, improvements, and upgrades before we went cruising. We also culled through our belongings taking only what we thought we would really need. Some existing equipment was "iffy" but we went with it anyway. After one year we feel that a review is in order; what's working well, what isn't working so well, what we are glad we took, and what we wish we had done before we left.
THINGS WE ARE SOOOO GLAD WE UPGRADED
Full Bimini over the Cockpit - This is priceless and we absolutely would never cruise without one.
New Rocna Anchor & New Windlass - An anchor that doesn't drag is the best insurance ever. We love the Rocna; it sets every time, never drags, yet is easy to retrieve with our new windlass.
New Rigging and Sails - Very expensive, but absolutely necessary in our case.
Raymarine Chartplotter with AIS - Modern navigation systems make cruising so much easier now. The first time we used the chartplotter we felt like we were cheating. We also have iSailor on the iPad and sometimes us the driving directions on our smart phone for close in harbor work. Wonderful tools all of them.
Watermaker - Since we anchor out a lot, the watermaker is a joy to have. Ours runs on 120v so we have to use the generator to run it, but it's well worth it.
Inflatable Dinghy with 9.9 Engine - Your dinghy is like your car and you use it every day to get ashore, purchase fuel, visit the neighbors, get to the snorkeling spots, and run out the stern anchor.
THINGS THAT HAVEN'T PERFORMED WELL
Hydraulic boom vang and backstay adjuster - Just before we left we rebuilt the hydraulic panel in the cockpit because of a leak, then the vang started leaking somewhere in Costa Rica, then the backstay adjuster blew up in the Guna Yala. The whole system has been very disappointing and the repairs have been messy, time consuming, and expensive.
Grunert Refrigeration - Our refrigeration system is original to the boat and although it does the job, we have to run the generator twice a day for it. We should have gotten a new 12v system and may do that when we get to Florida.
Caframo Fans - We bought three of these fans at over $100.00 each and they started failing around Panama. You just can't survive in the tropics without fans, so we have been purchasing little 120v personal fans and they are almost better than the expensive marine fans. We run the inverter to power them.
THINGS WE ARE GLAD WE TOOK WITH US
Luci Lights - These little inflatable, solar powered lights are so handy to have. We have one over the cockpit table at all times.
LED lighting - We have changed most of our interior lighting to LED and they are real power savers.
Tools, Tools, Tools - We have lots of tools onboard and can maintain or repair almost anything on the boat.
Copier - We found a little copier/scanner/printer from HP. It's been handy for printing all those copies that the officials want when you check into a new country.
Real Dishes, Good Knives, Good Pans, Propane Stove - We aren't camping, we are simply living aboard a boat that sometimes moves around quite a bit, but mostly is at anchor. We actually cook three meals a day, set a decent table, and try to dine graciously every evening.
THINGS WE WISH WE HAD UPGRADED OR ADDED
Solar Panels - All our battery charging must be done with the generator or the main engine. Let me tell you, the noise and the heat from running the generator twice a day is getting really annoying. That may be another project for Florida.
So basically we are happy with the decisions we made before we started cruising. And we really don't regret going with old refrigeration, leaky hydraulics, and no solar panels. At some point you just have to go and figure you will repair, replace or upgrade along the way. And isn't that better than staying in the harbor waiting until everything is perfect?