Apropos of absolutely nothing, here are three small things that make the boatin' life easier.
1. Stern or mast reflectors.
It is generally very bad practice to enter an anchorage at night, but once every 15 months or so we've found ourselves having to do exactly that. We've always had a choice of entering a fairly well-charted anchorage with a wide, deep approach mostly unobstructed by hazards. One such occasion occurred last week when a blown impeller forced us back into the anchorage of Portobello, Panama. We were lucky that we'd recently been there and knew where most boats were anchored. We had a good chartlet to follow with GPS and radar (thanks, Eric Bauhaus!) and we had binoculars and a giant floodlight to help us spot the boats at anchor as we got close to them. It's importantfor an approaching boat to have some way to illuminate boats at anchor, because in our experience at least 25% of the boats in any given anchorage are unlit. Masthead lights and boom lights are fine - that's what we use - but when we were the ones in the boat approaching the anchorage in total darkness, it was difficult to distinguish the nearby boats that had only a boom light, from the more distant boats that had only a masthead light. There was one sailboat in Portobello, though, that really stood out and made our approach easier. It had two small, round reflectors mounted on either side and slightly above its stern pulpit. We could easily see the reflectors from a few hundred feet away, and those reflectors helped put the rest of the nearby boats into better perspective.
That experience made us resolve to get some nice reflective tape for the two poles we have mounted on either side of our stern. We figure a row or two of reflective tape, placed about shoulder height, might help illuminate our boat a little better for anyone approaching in the dark. Including us, if we happen to be out late with the dinghy. We've also seen a boat or two that has placed rows of reflective tape around an upper portion of the mast, to better illuminate the boat not just when at anchor, but also while underway. It may not be USCG-approved, but it sure works for boats that are cruising far from home. So, I'm pro-reflector.
In a desperate effort to bring some sort of consistency to this liveaboard cruising lifestyle, I have designated one day per week to clean the decks, do laundry in the 5-gallon buckets I keep aboard, and anything else that involves the use of water to get clean. I call it, "Washing Wednesday." When we first started cruising I spent time rinsing the salt off The Fox's lifelines and stanchions, and pinning the clean laundry to them with clothespins. And when the wind picked up I always seemed to lose a clothespin or several. Way too stressful for the cruisin' lifestyle. Nowadays, I tie a thin clothesline between shrouds and anywhere else that's handy, and raise the laundry higher off the deck. Instead of pinning the laundry to the line, I run the sleeves of shirts and the legs of pants around the line itself, then just use clothespins to hold it all in place. I don't have to worry about any laundry flying away; it all gets more air and dries faster; and I haven't lost a clothespin yet. It also makes The Fox's topsides look like the white-trash version of Tibetan prayer flags.
3. Time Management.
I've tried going with the cruising flow, and I often do. For example, if we're underway, certain chores get put off. But during the four years we've been cruising 24/7, I've also often found myself lurching from one chore to the next, and doing the same chore day after day. Like doing laundry, or mending boat canvas. To bring a little rhythm back into my life, I have designated certain chores to be performed on certain days of the week. All the days remain flexible to accomodate travel and emergencies, but for my current general schedule, we have Sewing Sunday, Mending Monday, Trash Tuesday, Washing Wednesday, Anything Can Happen Thursday (Big Bang Theory thought of that one first), Financial Friday, and Don't Bug Marianne Saturday.
You're welcome for these handy, handy hints.