4 must haves on Saetta

Before we start to talk about things we need, we want to say this:

So far we have used this blog to take you with us on our journey. We also have released videos on YouTube. From now on we will use our videos to tell you about our journeys, trips and adventures and we will use this blog to dig a bit deeper into some subjects. Please let us know if there is anything you would like to know more about! If you would like us to keep on going with this blog the way we do now, we also would love to hear from you!

Today we would like to talk about the 4 things we feel we need on Saetta. We will not continue our trip if one of these breaks down and we are not able to replace it. Although, that’s what we say now, with more experience we might rely less on equipment like this and decide to continue.

We are fully aware that there are plenty of people who do the same (or more) as us with less equipment. So saying WE need these items on board, does not mean everybody needs these items on board!

1. Radar

Plotter with AIS

Our radar is not always on, usually only when we arrive somewhere in the dark or when we are sailing in fog. But those times we really depend on it. Sailing in fog, with nothing to see, can be very scary. With the radar on at least we know where there are objects in our path.

We also use it when we arrive at an anchorage in the dark. Not all boats use their anchor light and in the dark (sometimes combined with fog) it is very hard to see what is in front of you. So we love our radar! Besides radar we use AIS. This is a system that shows other ships that also have AIS on our plotter. We can see how fast they are going, in which direction and if we are in a collision course. When in doubt we can go on the radio and call the ship by its name. Pretty handy. I would not like to go without AIS, but I also think that between radar and AIS, radar is the more important one.

2. Engine


After a lot of engine problems, we decided to get a new engine a couple of years ago. This was a huge investment but we are so happy we did this. Everytime we press the start button, the engine starts without any issue! And yes, we have a sailboat, but we still use the engine to maneuver in and out a marina/anchorage or if there is not enough wind on a passage to sail. We try to motor as less as possible, but it can not always be avoided. But we have met people who sailed around the world without an engine, so not everybody will see the engine as a necessity.

3. Solar panels

Solar panels and wind generator

We love our solar panels. We have a total of 540W and that is enough for us to keep us going, also on longer passages with the autopilot and plotter on, laptop and phones charging, fridge and freezer on. So the first months of our trip we didn’t worry about power at all. Starting from the end of September we had to be a bit more careful because for the panels to work, we need sun and we did have a few cloudy days. For this, we do have a wind generator, but our set up is not optional at the moment. There is too much vibration going through the supports, which doesn’t feel safe. So we have to fix this first, before we can use our wind generator. Until then, we will have to be careful with power on cloudy days and every now and then, run our engine to generate power.

4. Autopilot

Our Jarbas II

Miguel keeps on saying it: from all of us on the boat, Jarbas is the best at keeping Saetta on track. Jarbas being our autopilot. Jarbas II that is, because Jarbas I had to retire not that long ago. It was old, started squeaking more and more and the mechanic saw a lot of wear. So we replaced Jarbas, because going without a Jarbas is not an option for us. On shorter passages it is nice to hand steer the boat, but on longer passages we find it way too tiring. Again, plenty of people who go without an autopilot, but we wouldn’t want to miss Jarbas II for the world!

So far our 4 must have items on the boat. I am sure there are more and we might find this out along the way, but so far this has been our experience. What equipment can’t you miss on your boat??

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