Favorite Cruising Gear for 2004

pot10003.jpg - 36059 BytesOne of our favorite and most frequently used pieces of gear aboard Little Cruiser is our GSI 3.5 qt pressure cooker.  We really use this compact little pot a lot, and we have come to depend on it to stretch our meager propane stores on our three month long trips.  What we like most about using a pressure cooker is that we can cook basmati rice in only ten minutes or we can have our customary bean and vegetable stew done in 20 minutes.  We've found that the pot pressurizes quickly, and then only a small flame is needed to keep the pressure valve whistling away.  The anodized finish seems to reduce food from sticking on the bottom and sides, and the high quality silicone gasket ensures that the lid will maintain a good seal for years to come.  We bought an extra gasket for our last trip, but so far the original one looks like the day we bought the pot. 

iris50.jpg - 33944 BytesWe've enjoyed our Iris 50 handbearing compass (by Platismo) for the last three trips to the Bahamas.  Our main use for this compass has been to take bearings on distant objects, especially freighters which we like to keep track of while crossing the Gulf Stream. The rubberized casing makes it easy to hold on to, and it protects the compass from the hard knocks it gets aboard a little boat.  Unlike our older handbearing compass, the readings don't jump around much, which is a real problem when you are bouncing around in a tiny boat way out in the ocean.  At night, you can read the bearings because of the built-in photoluminescent lighting; however, we do "flash" it from time to time with our halogen flashlight just to make it a bit brighter.  If we ever were to lose this one we wouldn't hesistate to replace it with the same model.  A definite keeper.

lights10017.JPG - 33832 BytesWe use several portable lights aboard Little Cruiser . All of them are made by Princeton Tec because they make a good product and they actually stand behind their lifetime warranty.  The LED headlamps probably get the most use since they leave your hands free to handle other things like lines, chains and anchors.  Because they draw so little power, one set of batteries can usually see us through a whole winter trip. They also work pretty good for reading a map or a chart at night. However, when it comes to searching for a safe anchorage or scanning the horizon for land in the pitch black of night, only our halogen dive lamp, a Princeton Tec 400, will do.  It has a very powerful beam that carries a long way with it's 4 "C" sized batteries, but remember to use it sparingly since the batteries only will last for a few hours of continuous use. 

handreel1.jpg - 67075 Bytes Of all the ways there are to catch fish, using a hand reel has got to be one of the easiest and cheapest methods out there.  These reels, which some people call Cuban Yo-Yo's, generally measure 6 to 8 inches in diameter, and they contain a good amount of monofilament line along with a steel leader, a weight and a hook.  To go fishing, it's simply a matter of putting some bait on the hook and dropping the line overboard.  On the other hand, if you want to cast your line out a good ways, it takes a little more effort and practice.  What you need to do is to swing about 4 feet of the weighted end over your head (kind of like using an old fashion sling shot), and then release it just at the right moment. Don't forget to point the low side/small side of the reel in the direction you release the line so that the line will feed out evenly. 

JavaPress.jpg - 103086 BytesIf you are a coffee lover, then there's no need to leave your gourmet brew behind. For the last few winter trips we've been enjoying freshly ground coffee aboard Little Cruiser . Our beans, which consist of Italian (dark) roast, Viennese cinnamon, and French roast, are kept in airtight containers. Mixed according to taste, the aromatic beans are finely ground using a Turkish coffee grinder. We looked at several mills before choosing this model, and what we like most about this particular unit was that it was very solidly made of brass and steel. It came in several different styles, but we prefered the one with the seperate bottom that held all the grounds until we were ready to use them. Making coffee with the GSI made JavaPresstm was simple. First, hot water was poured into the press, and then the grounds were added and stirred. After a few minutes, the spent grounds were pressed to the bottom using the plunger which has a fine mesh screen. Next, all we had to do was pour our coffee into our cup and admire that beautiful sunrise at the anchorage. 

glue0006r.jpg - 30649 Bytes We bring a variety of glues aboard Little Cruiser - Goop, 3M 5200(regular and fast drying), Silicone Sealant, Epoxy and CA glue. The Goop and 3M5200 stick to just about anything so they can handle a lot of different repairs.  We've used Goop to fix the soles on our shoes, to glue mosquito netting around the hatch and to adhere the loose plastic covering on our solar panels.  The 3M 5200 works well to bed  hardware and to patch pinholes in vinyl.  Slow setting epoxy (like Devcon 2 ton, West System and System 3) work well for fiberglassing and wood repairs.  When it comes to underwater damage to our hull, we have used Pettit Underwater patching compound for years with great success, but now that this product has been discontinued and is hard to find, we may give PC-11 Marine Epoxy paste a try. The manufacturer claims that it will cure "wet, dry or underwater."  In the past, what we did for underwater damage to the hull was put a blob of Pettit underwater epoxy on a plastic spreader.  Then we dove underwater with the stuff, and pressed it into the damaged area.  Next, we rub the area smooth with our finger.  Oddly enough, the epoxy doesn't stick to the skin, but you still might want to use a rubber glove.  Once the epoxy has set well, we usually go back a day later and sand the patch area some more with a piece of 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper.  Lastly, we bring a 1/3 ounce bottle of plastic and regular cyanoacrylate glue/super glue.  The plastic CA glue (Plasti Zaptm)  works well for fixing those odd plastic parts that seem to always break, while the regular variety is perfect for quick repairs involving wood and fiberglass.  Remember to be careful not to glue your fingers together!