Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bag Lady

Since we have been cruising I've become a bag connoisseur. Not because I love bags, but because they are so necessary for our lifestyle and there are so many kinds. We need bags for toting things to and from the boat, bags for carrying things on a daily basis, bags for short term storage, and bags for long term storage. Just about everything eventually ends up in a bag.
Anchoring out as we do for months on end means everything must be ferried from shore in our dinghy, so we need water resistant bags because the dinghy is often wet. It's almost like spray and splashes are magically drawn to clean laundry and important papers.
When we were outfitting our boat I ordered some of those expensive, heavy-duty canvas bags with our boat's name embroidered on them. They are sturdy, stylish, and tough, but totally impractical for long term cruising. They might be okay for toting stuff from home to boat if you are a weekend sailor, but they are too bulky and too heavy to fit our needs now. Just finding a place to store them is a chore. They also absorb water and take forever to dry.
Now our favorite tote bags for groceries and laundry are the heavy plastic reusable grocery bags with webbing handles. First and most importantly they are water resistant. They are lightweight, easy to clend dry quickly, and small when folded up. The long webbing straps can be tied together to keep the top closed.
We first found bags like this at grocery stores in countries where they are trying to eliminate single use plastic bags. We have always taken our own bags to the store, but one day we needed more and we bought one of these. Now I wish I'd bought four of them; they are so useful.
I also have a few Tesco Cath Kidson bags that are smaller and good for heavy things like canned goods and drinks. I got these many years ago and love them, but they are starting to get stained because they are a fabric instead of plastic.
Speaking of grocery stores, some still give plastic bags at the checkout. We always save those because they make perfect garbage bags. We have a very small garbage bin because we generate so little trash, and those grocery store bags fit it perfectly. When full, they easily fit into a five gallon bucket in the lazarette for later disposal on shore.
Every cruiser needs at least one large insulated bag for bringing perishables home from the market. We pack anything frozen, all the meats, cheeses, butter, and lettuce into this bag right at the store. Everything stays cool on the (frequently) long walk back to the dinghy, and ride to the boat. We also use this bag for picnics and potlucks.
For shore excursions and hiking, backpacks are popular, but we rarely use ours because they make our backs sweaty. However, they do distribute a heavy load better and I've used mine several times when the Captain was busy with another project and couldn't accompany me to the store. Using the backpack and two tote bags I'm able to carry a triple load a couple of miles.
When you check into a foreign country they want to see all kinds of important papers including your boat documentation and passports. You dont want to take any chances with those papers, so a totally waterproof bag is the best solution. You could use a dry bag, or a waterproof folder inside a larger tote bag.
We keep two sizes of zip lock bags aboard and use them for lots and lots of things. With humidity and spray always trying to dampen everything, we use them to protect our passports and phones when going ashore. We keep small parts together in them. Moving between islands with different currencies we keep money in them so as not to confuse pesos, euros, and ECs. Oh, we also use them for their intended purpose: storing food and meats in the freezer.
I've noticed that quite a few of the lady cruisers have the same brand of handbag; namely Ziploc. Not extremely stylish, but very practical. Last week when I was in St. Eustatius, Mazinga was having a sale and I snagged this Guy Harvey beauty for half off! I guess this bag Lady is coming up in the world.


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