Five Things We Use ALL the Time


Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Amy

We bought a lot of stuff as we moved onto Starry Horizons.  Some items were duds that we never use, but there are a few that we are surprised to find ourselves pulling out all the time:

1) Electric Bug Zapper

David picked up this electric bug zapper racket that electrocutes bugs. It’s pretty ingenious, and we’ve found it really helpful here. Since its summer, the bugs are a bit crazy. Fortunately, we aren’t dealing with no-see-ums. Most of the bugs are flies or mosquitoes. Our enclosure does a great job of keeping them out of the main salon and cockpit, but occasionally a bugger will get in and we fry it. Some of the flies around here are so big we fry them to disable and then squish them to kill them.

2) Hydration Backpack

We have two hydration backpacks on board, and they are pretty much out all the time.  Since we walk to places instead of drive, it’s good to have a supply of water available.  Of course, we bring it with us for hiking.  And, instead of carrying a purse around, I just keep my important stuff in the backpack, which I can take out the reservoir if I just want to use it as a small backpack.

Just for the record, my “important stuff” is no longer wallet, makeup, and sunglasses, but a swiss army knife, band-aids, Advil, lighter, etc…. my how things have changed.

3) Con-Tact Non-Adhesive Non-Slip Shelf Liner

We use this shelf liner permanently on some of our shelves to keep our dishware from sliding around.  However, the biggest use is while we are underway.  If we are going to be in motion overnight (meaning I’m cooking dinner), we pull out several pieces of the shelf liner.  A large piece goes over our main salon table, another large piece over the large counter, and then smaller pieces around the sink.  This keeps anything we are using (dirty plates or appliances) from sliding off the counter.  We lost a pot of rice that way!

4) Kneeling pads

We get down on our hands and knees A LOT.  Our knees take enough of a beating, especially when you consider most of our boat is covered in non-skid, which is really painful to kneel on (it’s that some old-school punishment?  make your kids kneel on gravel? Ouch!).  We use these kneeling pads for maintenance projects and cleaning projects.

5. Vise Grips

David never owned vise grips before, but on a recommendation, we bought a pair for our toolkit, and sure enough, he’s using them all the time now.

What do you find indispensable on your boat?


  1. Vacuum sealer. We take all the meats out of their bulky plastic and styrofoam packaging and reseal. Doubles the freezer space. Plus great for big fish.

    1. We do have one onboard but I don’t use it that often. I think we cycle through our meats enough that we don’t have to worry about freezer burn and space a lot now.

  2. Please be carefull where you carry that swiss army knife, in some countries they are illegal(my english is rusty).

  3. Favorite kitchen appliance: InstantPot (Electric Pressure Cooker)
    Saves on gas and time, we use it all the time
    A close second: Our Bamix immersion blender

    Favorite tool: hot knife rope cutter by HSGM
    Is in use at least once a week, somewhat surprisingly

    Favorite Gadget: SENA Bluetooth headphones
    At least three other cruisers bought them when they saw how nicely they work and how quietly we can dock and anchor with them

    Favorite power tools: We have seven cordless Makita power tools that all share the same four rechargeable battery packs and the same charger: In order of usage: vacuum cleaner, drill, jig saw, flash light, circular saw, oscillating multi tool, angle grinder (for cutting the stays in an emergency). There is also a USB-adapter for the battery packs, in order to charge the iPad during a power outage emergency.

  4. Pipe cutter is very useful when fresh water system needs some work.
    Amp clamp to see if solar is producing.
    Calipers for measuring line diameter (cheap plastic one is fine but buy 3)
    Compact socket wrench set. Buy a few 10mm sockets. WD40 the handles as they do die. NEVER use my old wrenches.
    Electric kettle.
    Good Binos.
    Anchor drift app for iPhone.
    Tylaska shackle for chute and snatch blocks for genoa.

    1. I’ll tell David about your anchor app recommendation. He’s tried several and never been happy. We have a pair of Steiner binoculars and LOVE them.

  5. Favorite tool: digital caliper. I use it to measure so much. Shackles, bolts, line size, hose ID, etc. Digital model converts a number from mm / decimal inches / inch fraction.
    Favorite power tool: electric screwdriver
    Favorite book: Nigel Calder’s “Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual” 2015 edition. I need the help with engines and electricity.
    Favorite others: Camelbak is a must, waterproof backpack, French press coffee maker.
    Thanks David and Amy for fostering the Out Chasing Stars community

    1. Digital calipers is something we do not have, but it’s so small and helpful I can see how it would be nice to have aboard! We have the Calder book and yes, very helpful. What waterproof backpack do you have?

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