Posted by: oldsalt1942 | June 8, 2009

Additional “Must Take” Items

I’ve been thinking about some additional items to the “Must Take” list Ken Hulme submitted. (See the comments on his post for some others).

An external hard drive.  These are compact and pretty inexpensive now. Not only can you back up what’s on your notebook’s hard drive but they can hold lots of extra stuff to keep notebook’s drive full of free space.

I have two notebook computers that I will be taking with me to Panama, but for anyone who only has one notebook computer a “netbook” might be a good thing to bring along in case your main computer fails. The price of these are down to a couple of hundred dollars now and would be a good back up in an emergency.

A couple of spare keyboards. I prefer working on a regular keyboard rather than the one on my notebook. I find it more comfortable. An external keyboard also protects your notebook’s keyboard because pounding away on the keys will eventually wear them out. When it goes what are you going to do? I had to replace the keyboard on my first notebook  twice and it was a real pain. If you’re going to be living, like I will, in a country where the language isn’t English the keyboards you’ll find there aren’t the same as ours and it’s difficult to learn them. A French keyboard isn’t a QWERTY board and the letters are in places we aren’t used to so you’re really into a hunt and peck mode. Spanish keyboards, while quite similar, aren’t the same as I found out when using internet café units. While we’re used to the “@” symbol being “shift + 2” on the Spanish board the “@ “ symbol might be above the number 2 but is accessed by “ctrl+alt+2” on most boards and on others it’s on another key altogether. Keyboards are cheap. Take two.

A solar shower is a great thing to have. I have one here because after Hurricane Wilma we were without electricity for 2 ½ weeks and boiling water for a decent bath was a drag. Again, I’d say take two in case the first one springs a leak. Unused they don’t take up much space.

I second the multi-band radio. When crossing the Atlantic back in ’91 and on my nine-month sojourn in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala in ’92 I used the shortwaves on the boats to listen to the BBC World Service as well as VOA broadcasts.

You can get the Eton multi-band radio that has AM/FM/NOAA/Shortwave bands which can be powered four ways including solar and hand crank for $70 at

Grundig makes several shortwave models ranging in price from $300 down to $100.

Kaito makes a four-way powered shortwave radio for about $70 and claims that 12 hours in the sun gives you 6 to 8 hours listening time.

Freeplay (the original crank radio) has a crank/solar/battery model with shortwave for about $80.

Epoxy Sticks! Don’t leave the dock without them. Made by various companies these are absolutely essential for anyone living on a boat. Break off a chunk as big as you think will be needed and then knead until the two different colors become one and apply. Cures under water. When hard can be drilled and tapped to accept machine screws. When on my cruise through Belize a small plastic part on my wind vane steering broke. A piece of epoxy stick about the size of an almond fixed it right up and after a couple of thousand miles it still worked like a charm. I also had a problem with the knot meter through-hull leaking. The previous owner had tried to remedy it by applying 5200 caulking around it but it still leaked. I removed the 5200, kneaded a whole tube of epoxy stick and molded it around the through hull and onto the hull. Voila! Not another drop. I’d take at LEAST a half dozen sticks with me in my tool kit.

For me, there’s one other indispensable item most people will think is crazy. Ken needs his mountain dulcimers. I need my Krupps espresso machine. That is non-negotiable and I will have to buy an inverter big enough to handle the load. It doesn’t have to run but three or four minutes to make a demitasse of coffee and since I only drink two demis a day the drain on the batteries won’t be excessive. But I have to have my cup in the morning when I get up. I look forward to that cup, and I like to have a cup after my evening meal.

I invite anyone reading these posts to comment on what they feel would be “must have” items they’d take when making such a move.


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