Sailing the Atlantic, Cruising the Caribbean - Avalon of Arne

By Phaon Reid

Domestic Arrangements - Water, Cooking, Entertainment

General Principles

The over-riding principle was to keep things simple. If you read some books (or web sites) you'll think you can't go cruising without a fridge, freezer, microwave, watermaker, television, video, air conditioning, pressurised hot and cold water, and electric everything else. This is particularly true if the writer is American. Our own view is that the more gadgets you have, the more you become their prisoner.


Avalon has a single water tank which holds about 60 (English) gallons. This is fed to hand pumps in the galley and the heads. Personally, I wouldn't have a pressurised electric water system on a boat of Avalon's size. It inevitably leads to far higher water consumption, as well as being something else to go wrong.

For the Atlantic crossing, we also took about another 30 gallons in plastic containers. We tended to use the "container" water for drinking and the "tank" water for washing and cooking. After our 18.5 day crossing we had loads to spare - maybe 30 gallons, but after the engine failure we had been deliberately economical, as we didn't know how long it would take us to get in.

For showering, we bought one of those solar showers - basically a PVC bag with a hose, tap and nozzle. This tended to leak from the filler, so we dispensed with the bag and used one of our 2-gallon water carriers instead, which happened to fit perfectly. When water was in short supply, we would shower using a 2-litre plastic Coke bottle with a few holes pierced in the lid - an economical arrangement in every sense. I have used "proper boat showers", inevitably located in the heads, and wouldn't want one.

We seriously considered getting a Watermaker, but didn't in the end. It would have meant more expense, more complexity, more spares to carry and all the rest. The cheaper ones (which still aren't that cheap) aren't reckoned to be that reliable anyway.

On innumerable occasions our awning provided a good supply of water. It is a big affair, stretching the length of the boom, perhaps 15 feet, from the mast to aft of the cockpit. In any sort of rain, we could collect a useful amount of water. Often, a spell of rain would enable us to completely fill the main tank and all the water carriers.


Avalon has a Plastimo Pacific cooker, with two gas rings and an oven, but no grill. A grill would be extremely useful, but it didn't seem worth the expense of junking an otherwise adequate cooker to get one. We make very extensive use of our pressure cooker and would strongly recommend carrying one - it also doubles as a large saucepan for cooking pasta, and the like, for large numbers of people. An even larger pan would have been useful on occasions for cooking lobster. If you don't have one, we found the best bet was to ask an Italian boat. They always seem to have a giant pasta pan.

Bear in mind, when equipping your boat, that cruising is a sociable lifestyle. We have on several occasions cooked for ten or a dozen people, so large quantities of glasses, plates and cutlery are a good idea. The limitations of our cooker mean that we can't cook the most elaborate meals, but this is not normally a problem. On special occasions it is fun to pool resources with another boat. At Christmas in Barbados we cooked the turkey in our oven, while our friends on Idefix prepared the trimmings. The cooked turkey was transferred across by dinghy, and a pleasantly convivial meal followed.

In the Caribbean, we would often arrange a beach barbecue with other boats. Normally the fire would be improvised from driftwood and coconut husks, with a few stones round the edge and a metal grille over the top. Normally the main disk would be fish or chicken, with the various boats bringing a side dish each (rice, salad, that sort of thing) plus a supply of rum and beer. This is a great way to spend an evening, but DO make sure you clear everything up afterwards - then check again in the morning when you can see (and are relatively sober).

Barbecues on boats are a good idea too, although we don't have one ourselves at the moment. The gas variety, once bought, is easier and cheaper to run. Some people would bring them ashore to use on the beach, but we regarded this as cheating.


For music, we fitted Avalon with a fairly basic car radio-cassette player, which has given us good service for a number of years. The speakers are arranged so that they can be used either in the cockpit or down below. We don't feel any need for television or video, although a number of boats do, and we have often been invited over to watch films.

We did take a laptop PC with us, but found that, because we didn't have a printer, we used it very little. We have now got a printer, so maybe we'll use it more in future.

We do quite a bit of reading, swapping books with other boats when we've got through our stock. That way, we get to read things we wouldn't normally have chosen, which leads to some pleasant discoveries and an awful lot of trash. The crowd we mixed with enjoyed playing games - either commercial games like Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Dingbats, Taboo and so on, or improvised games such as Charades, Famous People and Names on Heads. When it was just the two of us on board, we would often play chess, Scrabble or backgammon. Needless to say, a lot of time is spent just socialising, exploring ashore and drinking.