On top of food and fuel, there are other consumables to be taken into account: are they available around the world, or do we need to carry a sufficient supply from home?
GAS: most Rally boats used gas for cooking, accepting the problem of having to refill them in odd places around the world.
In fact, there are two different gasses, propane and buthane, which would require different bottles and different regulators, but the truth is, you will almost never find out what sort of gas is available (in most cases, it’s actually a mixture) so after a while we stopped worrying…
Another problem is with the bottles’ threads, of which there are a gazillion different ones, and the refilling stations may not be able (or willing…) to fit yours.
We choose to leave with four 2.8 Kg. bottles, two standard Camping Gaz and two italian-threaded camper bottles, and we always managed to fill either one type or the other, depending on the country, although very seldom we could fill both types, therefore cutting our reserve from 4 down to 2 months of use (admittedly, our cooking was rather limited, also in view of the hot climate and the cook’s unwillingness to stand in front of a heat source!
We had an emergency camping-style cooker which was running on the same throw-away gas cartridges as our BBQ, but we never had to resort to it.
A special problem is in Australia, where they forbid refilling bottles other than those with an australian type-approval stamp, so we had no other option than to buy a small local bottle, which we could then easily refill at most car fuelling stations.
A word of warning: gas bottles rust very rapidly! We had to brush them clean and repaint them several times, and by the end of the voyage they were good for scrapping.
Two strict rules: keep the gas bottles in a ventilated locker with no access to the boat’s interior, and keep them closed all the time when not in use! No exceptions allowed!!
ENGINE OIL AND FILTERS: engine oil is easy to get, as it is the same as for vehicles, but it is advisable to carry at least enough to perform a full oil change plus few refills.
The inverter’s oil may be a little less easy to find (ours was a car’s automatic-drive oil), so we always kept enough for at least two or three changes (it’s a small quantity anyway).
Definitely much less easy to get are the engine’s oil- and fuel-filters, which normally get replaced at every oil change, but could be replaced also during engine troubleshooting routines (e.g. due to dirty fuel): never run short of them, as you don’t know when you will be able to buy them next time.
WATERMAKER FILTERS AND CLEANING PRODUCTS: this is highly specialised stuff, nearly impossible to find, carry it from home!
SPARES: according to Murphy’s Law, if something can break, it will (at the worst possible moment…)!!
Even in countries where nautical stuff can be found, chances are that the locally popular makes could be different from back home. Generally you can have parts shipped, but this may take a long time; some Rally boats had to drop off because they were unable to complete serious repairs in time!
Still, excluding the option of towing a fully-equipped spare boat (…) choices have to be made, so let’s see:
– SAILS: we carried a new mainsail and a new genoa, but decided to keep them as spares and set sail with the old ones (refurbished by the sailmaker). The idea was to switch sails somewhere halfways through, but we didn’t have to, and finished the voyage with the old, albeit well worn, sails. Other boats were less lucky, and had to resort to local sailmakers where one could be found (and you can imagine how busy these sailmaker shops were, with 30-odd boats simultaneously in port!).
– ROPES: we did not carry a lot of spare ropes, and those were mostly already rigged; we used up a lot of mooring lines (carry many, strong and long ones!) while sheets and halyards fared quite well and were still in good shape at the end of the voyage.
– GROUND TACKLE: we carried 3 bower anchors plus a kedge, each ready for use with its own rode: heavy, bulky, but anchors are a critical items, and one can be lost or cast off (it happened to quite a few boats!).
– ELECTRONICS: we had two identical chartplotters, one in the cockpit and one below decks, which were backing-up one another, and carried a spare of their GPS receiver (we did not need it, but was lent to another boat!).
Furthermore, we had another fixed GPS receiver, plus a GPS aerial for use with a PC, and a handheld GPS unit.
We also had 2 sextants, but we never had to resort to them…
After the capsize in the lower Carribbean sea, we had to replace some electronics for which we had no spare and had to order from the USA, but none of them was essential.
We carried a fixed VHF and two handhelds, of which one was killed in the capsize, and we carried a spare fixed station which was not used.
We had 2 PC’s on board (although one was really old and slow), anyway they were not used for essential purposes (main use was e-mail), but we overlooked to carry the disks to allow reinstalling all our Sw when we had to buy a new computer in Panama.
taking into account the new, low-cost netbooks, nowadays I would rather equip 2 (or 3) identical netbooks, of which one would be stored in a waterproof location as a spare.
We broke 2 cameras, and the rewritable DVD’s we used to backup photos were destroyed by seawater, while the second backup on USB keys survived to the plunge.
– ENGINE SPARES: we carried a long list of spares, as suggested by our mechanic; to my great despair, the mechanic decided to install all spares on the engine, keeping the used parts as spares! His logic was “this way you will probably not have failures, and even if you do, the used spares are good enough to carry you home”; I was unconvinced, but I must say that it worked, we had NO engine failures throughout the voyage, unlike most of the other Rally boats!
A special case is represented by the engine’s cooling-water impellers, which need to be replaced at regular intervals: never run short of them!
– DINGHY: we carried a spare dinghy and outboard, and both turned out to be useful, the outboard to ourselves when our main outboard took the plunge in the Carribbean capsize, and the dinghy to another boat, when theirs went AOL…