The size of the boat you select is the greatest influence on what extra power and equipment
you add. 40 ft and under, generally you do not have a built in generator
so a Honda
2000EU is the most popular addition. I will supply about 13 amps of 120VAC to run your battery charger
or a microwave or a small watermaker
. Built in air conditioning
is nice but there is an awful lot of plumbing
that always seem to break or malfunction
. A cheap
Home Depot 5000BTU unit for under $100 can be propped up over a hatch
and with some foam boards you have very efficient air conditioning
that can be run off the Honda
. But again in the Windward Islands
there is no shortage of good 12-17 knot
breezes to keep everybody cool if you have good "wind scoop" type attachments for your hatches.
Watermakers are also high maintenance
but worth their weight in gold when you have females onboard. Coupled with a Honda 2000EU you can make about 4-8 gallons per hour each night while everbody is watching a DVD movie
. The 8 gal/hour units are probably the most popular. A good DC powered unit means you can make water
while you are motoring to windward as you progress down island.
Jerry jugging water
is fine if you are single-handing or have only "back-packer" type young adults on board. Otherwise you need a steady source of water to keep the peace. Water is available free at about half the places you will encounter and costs about 10 cents to 1 dollar a gallon at the rest. I calculated with my big boat and generator
that it was costing about 20 cents per gallon to use the RO machine. So if I could buy water for that or less I could save the wear and tear of running the RO machine.
One very major consideration if you are a "marina" loving person - in the Windward Islands
the marina electricity is 50 cycle not the 60 cycle we are used to in North America. A lot of equipment
will not run on 50 cycle AC electricity especially air conditioners and some battery
chargers. So check everything carefully. That Honda 2000EU can look even better.
machines are water hogs. Mine used 17 gallons per load which is 2 to 3 hours of RO time. I have found that laundry
services and especially self-service laundramats are available everywhere and normally cost about $2 per load to $5 per load which is very competitive considering the RO time, diesel
and machine wear and tear. Using their water instead of your average $3.40 worth of RO time can be cost effective. And the big tumble dryers are nice for sheets
. Oh! big hint, buy only dark colored bed sheets
and pillow cases, not white. You can a week or two out of the dark colored ones before they "must" be washed.
Basically, your water usage and bathing habits change dramatically once you start cruising. As mentioned before most cruisers wear minimal clothing
if any when onboard. Fancy clothing
really doesn't cut it and getting the women to "iron" in the equitorial heat is not a reality. Wrinkle free soft and light clothing is the norm. Love of garlic increases with the increase in time duration between baths/showers and you return to the bathing habits of your great-grand parents. Stock up on authentic original "Joy" liquid soap as it makes great salt water
shampoo and soap for bathing in the ocean with only a brief fresh water rinse afterwards. I am sure other folks have more "tricks of the trade-winds" for living onboard . . .