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Must-have cruising accessories (that we don't make)

Posted by Dave on Aug 16th 2023

Must-have cruising accessories (that we don't make)

Edson exists to make boating more fun, safer, more convenient, more accessible, and ultimately more rewarding. We're constantly trying out new product ideas in the search for better mousetraps (and we have several in the pipeline), but there are a bunch of things outside of our wheelhouse that make life onboard so much better. Here are some of this summer's top picks.

#1. Autopilot. This one's probably out of bounds for consideration as an accessory, but oh boy does it make life better. I can futz around with sail trim and different lead positions and 20 different other stupid things and she can read a book or do a crossword without my sailing OCD imposing on her one little bit. As much as I live for steering boats in races and where steering really matters, I'm so happy to outsource it on passages and just keep a good lookout. Don't forget that if you have an autopilot, you want to attach it to a separate autopilot tiller arm.

#2 Windlass, lots of chain, and a snubber. Similar to the first, this doesn't really qualify as an accessory, but oh boy does it make life better. This past weekend we had an overnight squall with gusts over 40. With all that chain, we didn't move an inch. You still see people on gorgeous, otherwise wonderfully equipped cruising boats that have no windlass. I'm in pretty good shape but for me, no definition of fun includes pulling up 80 feet of smelly, muddy anchor chain. A snubber can be very simple and nothing makes a boat ride more comfortably at anchor.

#3 Dock and Bay microfiber (or whatever magic stuff they are) beach towels. Everyone we've been cruising with uses these ones They don't get all damp and sandy and gross when you take them to the beach, they actually dry completely before you want to use them next, they pack up tiny, and they feel really nice and get you dry. A way better solution. 

#4. Dinghy storage bag. Eventually we'll get one of these fancy ones with the seat cushion and life jacket storage, but in the meantime I lashed an old mesh race boat cockpit sheet bag to the carry handles on our inflatable and it's a great way to store our searchlight, water bottles, and the bunch of other stuff you don't want marinating in the ganky soup in the bottom of your dinghy. 

#5. Drybags. We have a couple of these and find them invaluable for keeping stuff you want to stay dry, dry. We use the 30l one for dinghy trips to the beach and don't have to worry about towels, Kindles, phones, and wallets getting doused, and the 10l one is great for carrying wallets and phones to dinner ashore. 

#6. Alternate color masthead light. Technically you're supposed to have a white masthead light with 360* visibility as your anchor light. Ours is blue because it came that way, and holy cow does that make the boat easy to find at night, and I'm pretty sure the anchor police aren't going to bust us on this one (though watch me be wrong about that!). Just don't everyone run out and get blue because then we won't be able to find our boat anymore, okay?

#7. Fishing gear. This is a hard must. There's a whole other post (which I won't write because I'm terrible at fishing) about hand lines and fishing for real actual big fish while cruising, but a spinning combo, some Kastmasters and a few poppers will get you in on the action when you see a big fish break. Even if you don't see any action, I find shooting a bunch of casts out to be really relaxing at the end of the day. Just make sure you have whatever permits you need to be fishing where you are.

#8. Water toys. SUP boards are ubiquitous at this point. Many dinghies are powerful enough to pull towables. A bunch of us here have the wing foiling bug and can't bear to miss a windy afternoon. The journey is the destination and all that jazz, but it's so easy and getting easier (win wink, nudge nudge) to carry more fun along with you.