We asked a number of active bluewater cruisers what bit of gear they carry under €500 that they wouldn’t be without on a long cruise


Peter Forbes

Amel 54 Carango

Peter Forbes

Currently undertaking a circumnavigation with World ARC. After a career in aviation, engineering and manufacturing, Forbes examined and tested a series of bluewater yachts from Discovery, Hallberg-Rassy, Oyster and others before settling on an Amel 54 for his circumnavigation. He has two favourite bits of gear:


MobMat 001 - Copy

“For our favourite gear it’s a close run contest between the Mobmat for the recovery of a man overboard and the Echomax radar enhancer (below). The Mobmat is well packaged and hangs unobtrusively on the rail and would probably be the only way a man overboard could be recovered without sustaining serious injury in a high sea.”

Key features: Simple, effective MOB recovery solution for a short-handed crew. The semi-rigid lifting cradle connects to a halyard to lift a casualty back aboard.

Price £402. www.mobmat.com

Echomax Active XS radar enhancer


“This radar enhancer and passive detector saves using a radar and gives a very long-range warning of your yacht being ‘swept’ by a third party radar – essential on long passages while trying to conserve electrical power.”

Key features: works like the SeaMe device by actively enhancing radar pulses, but on both X and S bands. It is compact, light and thin and has a current draw of just 23mA on standby.

Price ex VAT £549. www.echomax.co.uk www.adecmarine.co.uk


David and Sally Batten

Stimson 56, Alcedo of Ryme


The Battens have owned a number of yachts including the Steve Dalzell-designed 45ft wood epoxy cutter Avocet of Ryme.

Alcedo was designed by Chris Stimson and built by Martyn Brake in Dorset using a strip plank system for the canoe body and an unusual flat-pack kit of composite panels for the topsides.

At the time of writing they had 1,630 miles still to sail across the Pacific. They chose two favourites.

Navtex receiver

Navtex pro V2

David reports: “Absolutely marvellous in the Atlantic and Med, if a little limited in the Pacific as we are out of range here.

“We are currently using a Furuno Navtex, which is said to be very good, but it has the most appalling user interface. My previous Navtex was a NASA Pro, which was truly excellent and I think the best value of them all.”

Key features: low cost, simple to use and install, and consumes just 40mA.

Price £247. www.nasamarine.com

Pela oil drainer


“Really useful – so much so that we have two! Not only can you change the engine oil, but we use it for sucking up anything we find in the inaccessible bits of the bilge. It has revolutionised our lives – we now keep a dry boat most of the time.”

Key features: a manual pump creates a vacuum to suck up liquids, including fuel and oil, into a calibrated container.

Price from £39.95 for the 2lt model. www.pelapumps.co.uk


Paul and Caroline Frew

Oyster 575, Juno

Paul and Caroloine Frew JUNO

The Frews have sailed for more than 30 years, initially in the Solent and then chartering abroad on holiday. In 2011 they bought Juno, since when they have sailed over 40,000 miles, including two Mediterranean circuits, two Atlantic crossings and most recently with the World ARC across the Pacific to Australia.

They point to the IsatPhone 2 satphone as an essential.

IsatPhone 2 satellite phone


“Other than coastal hopping, I wouldn’t go to sea without my handheld satphone. It’s all very well having flares, EPIRBs and other emergency equipment, but offshore the ability to speak to someone at Falmouth Coastguard gives me great comfort.

“I like the Inmarsat network so I have an IsatPhone 2. I test it regularly as part of my offshore checklist and it seems to work fine – although never used in anger, I am pleased to say.”

Key features: tracking and paging ability, plus a dedicated, user-programmable emergency button. It also has Bluetooth for hands-free use.

Price ex VAT £500. www.inmarsat.com


A number of people specified AIS transponders

John and Christine Lytle

Bowman 40, Oriole

John Chiristne Lytle

The Lytles sail a 20-year-old Bowman, which has been based in the Eastern Caribbean for the past 14 years, having crossed the Atlantic via the Canaries and Cape Verdes in 2002. Since 1976 the majority of their spare time has been spent cruising with two sons who now both earn their living on the sea. They are fans of AIS.

Comar CSB200 AIS


“An AIS transmitter and receiver should be a must for cruising yachts. Ships get prior warning of your presence long before they get a radar echo – we have had ships altering course for us 40 miles away.

“Plus you have the name of all the AIS transmitting ships and yachts, and can call them up. Friends and family can also keep track of you on Marine Traffic.

“Our Comar CSB200 interfaces with our nav software. We also have a separate tuned antenna for it at the masthead, which has given us a 60-mile range. From being the only small yacht with AIS they are now everywhere in big numbers.”

Key features: low-cost AIS Class B transponder that connects to PCs or chartplotters. Price ex VAT £499. www.comarsystems.com


Stuart and Anne Letton

Island Packet 45, Time Bandit

Stuart Letton

This couple bought their first boat together in their teens. Now armed with an Island Packet 45 they have crossed the Atlantic four times, cruised to the Lofotens and are currently on the first part of a circumnavigation.

Raymarine 500 AIS

Raymarine AIS650-Transceiver

“Other than collision avoidance the AIS allows more relaxed overnight watch keeping when short-handed and when far enough offshore not to have small fishing craft appearing. My Raymarine 500 is linked to my plotter,” says Stuart.

Key features: Raymarine has discontinued the Class B 500 set and replaced it with the AIS650 (pictured). This dual-channel transceiver allows vessels to transmit and receive navigation data for overlaying on a chartplotter.

Price £590. www.raymarine.com


John and Stella Dyer

First 47.7, Exocet Strike



The Dyers ran their boat for skippered charter out of Plymouth before equipping her for long-term cruising. They are currently in New Zealand, having sailed there with the World ARC, a voyage they have been planning for the last decade.

Vesper WM850 AIS


“We recommend AIS transponders in general. Ours is the Vesper WM850, but the new 8000 black box version with wi-fi looks superb and is lower cost.”

Key features: high AIS performance at a low cost, this model includes an integral display for viewing AIS targets, and collision avoidance is aided by audible alarms.

Price £759. www.vespermarine.com


Focus on safety

Bones and Anna Black

Bowman 57, Emily Morgan


Bones and Anna have both sailed from childhood and live aboard a 1982 Bowman 57, mixing their time doing ocean passages and private charter. Winter is spent in the Caribbean or further afield and summers in the UK.

Their choice of kit would always be safety gear:

Ocean Safety Kru Sport Pro

Kru Sport Pro Blue

“Always safety first, we would not go to sea without a lifejacket and lifeline. We use Kru Sport Pro lifejackets from Ocean Safety with hood and light, and we find them very comfortable.”

Key features: 180N buoyancy in a waistcoat-style jacket with inspection window to check the cylinder and a PLB pocket.

Price £129.95 for the automatic inflation version without harness. www.oceansafety.com