Posted by Darrell Nicholson at 05:23AM - Comments: (3)
Still trying to find a place to stow everything for that big summer cruise or that voyage south this autumn? You don’t have to wind up like this sloop we came across in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, with everything but the kitchen sink hanging from the stern arch. With so much sail area aft, the boat has effectively become a yawl a la Sanford and Son, a precarious rig for a passage to the Aran Islands. Here are a few organizing tools and stowage bags that we’ve found handy in the past few years:
Stowage bags: Camping compression sacks used for sleeping bags and other gear offer a great way to stow clothes, linens, or blankets that you’ll need but use infrequently. Waterproof versions used for river-rafting are ideal for taking laundry ashore in the dinghy. Practical Sailor has also tested vacuum bags and some clever zip-bags from Right Track Designs that mount on tracks—great for temporarily expanding space in quarter-berth "closets.”
Inflatable fenders: You can quickly gain a couple or more cubic feet in deck lockers by replacing most of your rubber fenders with inflatable versions. I like to also keep on board a couple of conventional heavy-duty fenders, since they are always ready for launch. Practical Sailor's favorite inflatable fenders were from Easystow and Aere.
E-reader: One of the handiest electronic devices we have on board is our Kindle (hers) and our iPad (his). While we still keep hard copies of essential navigation books and cruising guides, our leisure reading has migrated to the e-reader. In our reader survey, the Kindle earned a top spot. Although Math Rutherford's recent voyage around the Americas proved too much for the Kindle, our original Kindle is still kicking. Any e-reader that is compatible with PDFs can read the electronic version of Practical Sailor. Look for on an electronic-only subscription to the magazine to be available later this year.
Bicycles: We spent several years disassembling our mountain bikes, stowing them in the V-berth, and then reassembling them in each harbor. With our rock-hopping days behind us, we’re now quite happy with the Bike Friday, the crème-de-la-crème of folding bikes. There are several other affordable versions, including a rugged folding mountain bike from Montague, based on a model designed for paratroopers, and several models from Dahon, maker of PS's favorite folding bike in 2006.
Roll-up dinghy: Rigid inflatable dinghies make great station wagons, but they are hard to stow on deck a small boat. We compared two roll-up dinghies with high-pressure inflatable floors. Any of these will fit in big cockpit locker. Our favorite 11-footer was the Cadet 340 Fast Roller from Zodiac.
Car carrier: Boats that lack cockpit locker space are seriously handicapped when it comes to stowing lines and fenders. We haven’t tested Barrington Marine’s Sailboat Rack System, but the racks, which attach to deckhouse grab-rails and fit most popular car-top carriers, look useful for certain situations. The installation may require beefing up the backing plates on the grabrails (we’d be especially wary of teak grabrails), and we’d be very careful about putting too much weight up high on a small boat, which would affect stability.
Dinghy pocket: While you’ll gain only a few extra square inches with the Stow-away Deck Plate from Beckson, this handy pocket is a convenient place to keep your keys, wallet, and other small items in your dinghy or the cockpit of a small boat.
Stern-line: Tying a stern-line ashore is a standard procedure in some tight anchorages. Our Quickline spool from Ultra Marine, featured in the December 2006 issue of Practical Sailor holds about 100 feet of braided flat line, freeing up a big chunk of locker space.