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The Two Captains



Page Four of 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Volume VI - September 2001

Office stuff, Washer/Drier, Bread Maker, TV and other luxuries

There is no doubt that Tackless II has pretty much all the toys a cruiser could imagine. When fitting out, there is this mental struggle between being a purist and having all the comforts of home. Some boats go around the world with no refrigeration, no water heater, no TV etc. For some people it's an economic decision, while others simply subscribe to the "less-is-more philosophy", which certainly has its merits: "If you don't have it, it can't break and need fixing."

We don't have a house back anywhere. Everything is here. We also expect that our cruise will take a very long time. We can rough it for short periods, but we really don't want to rough it indefinitely.

Computers: There is hardly a cruiser out here that doesn't have at least one computer on board. A year and a half ago, we purchased our second unit from Sea Tech, a distributor focusing on the nautical trade. Their computer is bigger than a regular laptop and includes a numeric keypad on the right and a big 15" monitor. It comes with all the nautical software you could want already installed. We also bought a port replicator for it which has totally solved the nightmare of all the cables to everything. This computer has worked reliably for two years, and Steve and Pam are only an email away when glitches arise.

About the same time we replaced Gwen's laptop with a Toshiba. We rationalize two computers because Gwen does a lot of writing, not just for the website, but increasingly for magazines. It also is comforting to know we have a backup for navigation, weather fax reception, and email. We bought the Toshiba because so many cruisers spoke highly of its ruggedness, but we have since concluded that that was an earlier model. The hard drive on hers crashed after a mere five months, and we have heard a number of other similar stories. To give Toshiba credit, they did fix it under warranty. This computer came with a DVD player, which makes watching movies in the cockpit possible!

Digital Cameras: Don't leave home without one. It need not be a fancy, super quality camera as web sites and emails are happier with fewer pixels. Otherwise it takes forever to download, not to mention getting fewer pictures on your chip. Almost every cruiser we know has a digital camera, and the ability to swap photos on floppies will enrich your collection infinitely. We have the Olympus. Actually we have two. The first, the D-400 Zoom, worked very well for two years, until there was an electronic failure. Although Olympus did repair it, we bought a C-3000 Zoom in the meantime. This is a pricier model, with the capacity of better quality and mini-videos, but we bought it primarily because it uses a lens cap rather than the vulnerable sliding-door technology. If the world were perfect, one would have a waterproof housing for it, because even more than normal cameras, you hesitate to whip it out in rugged, damp conditions! We stayed with Olympus because we had all the chips.

Printer: We bought an HP PhotoSmart P1100 a year and a half ago when we had a color Christmas letter to send out and realized the cost would get us halfway to a new printer. We are very pleased with it. It takes the Olympus chips (as well as HP chips) in a little dedicated drive. The ability to print up pictures is not just great for your own scrapbooks or for guests, but it's a terrific icebreaker with the people you meet in your travels. The photo you give them may the first of themselves they have ever had!

Scanner: We just bought a Canon USB Flatbed Scanner. I had this idea I would scan all my receipts. Hah! However, it's been a real sleeper as a copier! We can copy passports and crew lists for all the Port Captains, who want multiple copies but never have their own copier! We can copy cruising notes from other boats. We can copy and share maintenance diagrams. Etc. Etc. Very useful if you have the space.

CD Burner: We bought one to record and store and send home CDs of all our photos, as it's the one thing you really couldn't bear to lose. CDs as a back-up medium are amazingly cheap. We find that cruisers use them widely as a means of sharing information.

TV/Video: In Curaçao, we replaced our American TV/ Video System with a multi-system. So far, we haven't left the US broadcast standard, but we have been able to look at videos made by Europeans. Definitely worth doing if you are purchasing a TV. Also, we got rid of our Shakespeare antenna, which was the size of a UFO, and went with the much more compact West Marine Interceptor.

Washer/Drier: You may remember from the Trinidad refit posting, that various friends talked us into installing a 110v washer. It was not cheap, it required some major remodeling of our salon, and we greatly feared it would be our big folly. We, however, absolutely love it! It has made life so much pleasanter and simpler (not to mention cleaner!) It has given us no problems whatsoever. We very rarely use the drier function, finding that clothesline drying is necessary even if you do use it. If you've got the space for it, add it.

Breadmaker: Although this is getting very far away from the Engine Room, it involves a machine and a foodstuff near and dear to me. Just before leaving Trinidad, Gwen picked up a Salton Breadmachine in a "Treasure of the Bilge" deal. Although we buy bread ashore when good bread is available, the whole way across from Trinidad we rarely saw anything but white, white "Bimbo" type bread in the stores. We used the machine a lot! People are put off by fears of power consumption, but REALLY this 400Watt model does not use all that much power. Although a whole cycle takes about three hours, the draw is only when mixing (the first 20 minutes) and when baking (the last 30 minutes), although obviously your inverter has to be able to handle the max. Gwen figured initially that she would just use it to mix and knead, saving on the mess and hassle, but several circumnavigators claimed they let it do the whole job, so we did. It makes a loaf that feeds us for a couple of days. Gwen is into whole grains and stuff (she recommends The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book by George Burnett). Although flour and yeast are available pretty much everywhere, you have to plan ahead on the more exotic ingredients, including such basics as whole wheat flour. The breadmaker will even mix up dough for bagels or pizza. Gwen has a pizza stone she leaves in the bottom of the oven all the time. It makes great pizza!

So….that's about it for every bit of functioning, useful equipment we have on board Tackless II. Hopefully this summary will be helpful to all of you planning your cruising layout. Good luck.

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