Useful but not fundamental: 7 Accessories for your boat

Useful but not fundamental: 7 Accessories for your boat

From air conditioning to the water maker, useful but not always indispensable. Let's find out what you really need for a practical and relaxing sailing holiday...

Often, when we imagine our summer holiday in the city in winter, we look for a boat that can faithfully replicate the environment where we are used to living and the comforts of home.

One of the strengths of a holiday on a boat is that everything on board is straightforward, and some items that we tend to consider indispensable on land become superfluous.

Let's take a look at the six most popular boat accessories and see how they can be useful and how we can easily do without them.

The simplicity of life onboard takes us to rediscover what is really vital when sailing. 

1. Air conditioning 

2. Generator

3. Watermaker

4. Inverter

5. Bow thruster

6. Electric toilet

7. Teak deck

1.Air conditioning 

Often, when looking for a boat for hire, many clients consider it a crucial fixed point. In reality, even in summer, we will hardly ever need this accessory, especially at Mediterranean latitudes. The temperature will be perfect at any time of day and especially at night when a pleasant breeze will make us appreciate a light jumper.

Consider that when they are at anchor, boats naturally position themselves parallel to the wind, so by leaving a hatch at the bow and the companionway open, our boat will be entirely covered by a pleasant current of fresh air.

In addition, air conditioning would force us to stay inside all the time, depriving us of the opportunity to experience the cockpit, undoubtedly the boat's most remarkable and pleasant area.

Lastly, air conditioning is a highly energy-consuming piece of equipment: environmental sustainability aside, its use is generally incompatible with the capacity of the batteries, obliging us to use it only when the engine is running (an additional source of heat) or in port, connected to the mains.

Having an air conditioning system on a boat is useless if not combined with a generator. Despite being generally noise-isolated, generators will still produce constant mechanical background noise. So, are we sure this is the background we want for the beautiful cove at sunset where we've just anchored?


Often people, especially those approaching this world for the first time, come aboard with a demand for water and land-based electricity. It's normal, and it's great that more and more people are getting into this fantastic world, but the great thing is that, once you set foot on board, you soon realise what you need and what you can do without, it's a light-hearted awareness.

For leisure purposes, you'll find that the generator is not strictly necessary unless you plan to do more than a couple of days at sea in a row.

A few hours of engine use makes no difference in keeping the batteries charged in the long term.

3. Watermaker

A water maker or desalinator is a device that uses an osmotic process to remove salt from seawater, making it fresh and, in some cases, even drinkable.

Control panel for mobile watermaker for sailing catamaran

Control panel for mobile watermaker for a catamaran

It is helpful if you are away from a port for a long time, take lots of showers, and use the water almost as a household item, particularly for catamarans that generally have a lower water reserve than monohulls when it comes to the number of cabins. You'll find no need for a generator in the latest highly efficient boat models. 

4. Inverter

The inverter is an electronic device that transforms the 12-volt direct current from the batteries into 220V alternating current, like that of the domestic network. Inverters come in a wide variety of types and powers, either portable with a few watts or fixed, connected to the boat's 220V system and capable of delivering greater power at anchor or while sailing when disconnected from the shore network.

Although they are increasingly sophisticated and efficient, this process has some losses. We only use it when we have no alternative.

5. Bow thruster

The bow thruster is a propeller positioned inside the bow with its axis perpendicular to the boat's motion. It is a manoeuvring propeller: it allows the bow to move left and right without advancing, like the hands of a clock.

Onboard bow thruster

It is handy when manoeuvring to moor in tight spaces, particularly in windy conditions to quickly direct the bow in the correct direction so that you can then manoeuvre backwards as you wish before the wind shifts it. Useful, especially when only one person is in charge of the mooring manoeuvres. You can get away without it, especially if the crew has a little bit of experience, particularly on vessels under 40 feet. It is not necessary if you plan to do a lot of road steaming and, of course, on catamarans, replaced by the possibility of using the two engines in opposite directions (forward and reverse).

6. Electric toilet

The boat's toilets are below the water's surface and need a pump to expel their contents to the outside. Generally, this pump is a manual type with a switch to select the various suction modes.

However, varying degrees of support can bring the user experience closer to a domestic toilet, from a simple electric pump to an automated system that handles everything itself with a simple touch.

But consider that it needs electricity for a non-essential function (it would be possible to do it otherwise) and it is pretty noisy: do we need it?

7. Teak deck

Teak makes a boat look fancy and classy, especially in photos. It's also pleasant to walk on barefoot plus offers a good grip.

However, it is not a must-have option: when it comes to charter boats, we are not concerned with maintenance issues, but we do consider that a nice teak deck contributes to the warmth of the boat's interior. It is essential and pleasant that it is present in some key points, such as the cockpit and the stern beach, which can contribute to the enjoyment of your stay on board.

Teak deck

This post is written by Francesco Gambini. Francesco met sailing in Liguria 20 years ago. A fleet specialist in Sailogy, his favourite boat is the Dufour 310 Grand Large. 

Francesco Gambini