Delving into a new lifestyle is definitely overwhelming. Now add to that, you are doing it with your kids, and your new home is less than a quarter of the size of your current place. BOOM! Complete mental breakdown. I’ve been there, standing around crying my eyes out because I just didn’t know where to start. I don’t want you to feel the same way.

Family boats have been sailing the seas for ages. It’s doable. but that doesn’t make it any easier for you. Don’t lose it just yet, there are hacks, to make the transition and boat life more enjoyable for everyone.



Here is a list of a few things that we have found rather handy to have on our sailboat, some are modifications that we have made, others are products that we have bought.

1. Playpen

In only a couple of hours, Eben made our vberth convertible from a bed to a playpen by sewing us a lee cloth, blocking the bed’s entrance. This has been a wonderful boat upgrade. It has given us some extra “childfree” time, to do whatever we want. (Like sweeping without a kid on my heels) We know that they are playing and having fun in a secure space. 

2. Dish scrubbies

These little miracles we first discovered years ago when making our wedding registry. They are dish scrubbies that are the size of your palm and are a stiff plastic mater. They are tough enough to get that “stuck on stuff” off, but gentle enough to not wreck all of our pots and pans.

3. Ipad

I know Mac doesn’t need any extra advertising but quite honestly, the iPad (and iPhone) is key for us. It is our book, our toy, our morning “reader” over coffee, our movie viewer, our trip planner, our link to the world via the internet, our educational tool, our creative outlet, everything. There is not a day that goes by that one of them (we have two) is not in use. It may sound ridiculous to some to be out on a boat and still have this electronic gadget be so popular but we find it crucial to our sanity.

4. Duffle bags and backpack

When we are not on the boat we are out exploring the land around us. A lot of our trips are on the longer side because we prefer getting real experience and not just the facade of a mini-trip. Doing so means we need good luggage that’s big enough to handle all of our clothes, electronics, diapers, etc. but small enough to not take up insane amounts of precious bot space when they are being stored. For these reasons we decided to get the Gregory duffle bags, they are huge, rugged, and roll up into small storage bags when not in use. And for those smaller day trips that we take, we have fallen for our Sailorbag backpack. It’s a perfect size, bigger than a diaper bag but smaller than a hiking pack. We don’t have to think about the storage space it may take up because of its most often “in use”.

5. Silica pouches

Being in a humid environment, and loving our electronics (Eben’s MacBook is just as much his baby as our girls are!), we take great care of our toys so they can stay with us as long as possible. Eben went online and bought a big bag of those small silica pouches that you find in shoes when you first buy them. We take a couple of each of those pouches and throw them in the storage cases, for all our electronics to keep the humidity at bay.

6. One main light switch, LED’s n eBay

When Eben wired up our boat with our electrical we decided that we wanted our boat to be brightly lit. We have 12 pot lights in our salon/galley area. Each has an individual switch next to it, so we can turn on or off as many as we want depending on the mood. But the best part, which helps avoid many tumbles and bruises, is that he installed one main switch. The main one controls them all. The switch is right by our galley way entrance so that we can reach in and turn the lights on before having to enter the dark boat. (All of our lights are LED and we went on to eBay and bought them from China. At $1 a piece! Now you will pay almost the same price per piece in shipping and it will take at least two weeks for them to arrive. But we much rather pay that than the US store alternative at 20x the cost.)

7. Brown paper bags

In our bathroom, when you do your business, there are two options. For pee, your toilet paper goes directly into the bathroom garbage airtight tin, but for the other business, we have the brown paper bags. We take that toilet paper, place it in a brown paper bag. (The same ones we used to get as kids when we bought penny candy at the local store). Then place the paper bag into the tin. That way it cuts down on any possible smells. And that way you don’t happen to see the last person’s mess when you are throwing your paper into the tin. The better idea all around.

8. Front loading Engel

I think we should be Engel reps, we love our fridge and standalone freezer that much. Our boat had the regular drop-in fridge and freezers that a lot of boats come with, but they didn’t work. We had the option to either spend the money to fix them or spend that money on a new fridge. We liked the stats that Engels have, low power draw, cheaper price, and the one we chose was front-loading!! Avoiding the Tetris headache that comes from drop-in fridges. Our fridge, think dorm-style mini-fridge, is the perfect size for our family of four. Now we are considering buying a separate chest freezer from Engle. We just have to figure out how to get it here to us in the DR.

9. Damp rid

I am sure that every boater knows about these things, but if not, you need to know. We use the Damprid buckets in our clothing closets to keep the humidity out and our clothes free of mildew. We did alter in them is we stabbed some extra holes in the lids to suck up as much dampness as possible.

10. 12volt Mac charger

An awesome friend of ours, Brittany on Asante (Windtraveler), gave us a 12volt charger for our Mac book pro when she purchased her new one and the charge connection was different making the charger useless to her. She bought it from Amazon I believe. Before having received this gift from her we were turning on our Honda 1000 generator every night so that we could keep the computer charged while we watched our movies. Now that generator barely ever gets used. That’s a good thing. We can power up our computer from 12volt, from our solar power. So neat to think that the sun is the power for our laptop.

This list will give you a head start on some of the things that will help ease you into the sailing life. If you’re looking to go one step further and turn your boat into a kids (safe) wonderland, don’t miss this post with more tips and tricks.