(Updated 1/30/2017)

(See bottom of this page for post-voyage updates)

Our choice of dinghy was driven by several considerations.  First, our 25 foot boat didn't have room for a rigid dinghy, so an inflatable was the only reasonable option.  Second, as with most aspects of outfitting the boat, we preferred to keep things simple, so didn't want an outboard engine, nor did we want volatile gasoline onboard.   And fourth, inflatable dinghies row poorly.  Instead, we thought an inflatable double kayak made more sense.   

Pearl kept an eye on Craigslist for several weeks and to our surprise, managed to score an almost new Advanced Elements Convertible inflatable double kayak for a small fraction of the price of a new one.  We weren't sure how it would work out, but our choice was confirmed shortly after when we read in a sailing blog that the authors had used the same model extensively on their voyages and thought quite highly of it.    

We have two mp3 players for listening to audio books.  One is a gift from our friend Karen and the other a gift from another friend, Alan.  We also have an enormous supply of audiobooks to listen to, thanks to Alan, who provided us with over 1000 hours of audiobooks.  We've supplemented those with audiobooks from websites like the Gutenburg Project and LIbreVox that offer free audio books.    

We have an extensive medical kit and, as Pearl is a registered nurse, the expertise to use it.  Our friends Ramesh, an ER doc, and Lanie, a nurse practitioner and Sean, a physician's assistant, all helped us to fill out the meds, which include a variety of antibiotics and a range of analgesics from mild to strong.  We also have copies of "Where There is no Doctor" and "Where There is No Dentist". 

Our optics include 7x50 range finding binoculars, a gift from our friend Jimmy.  We also have a small Sony Cybershot camera.  

We'll be using a 3.5 gallon plastic bucket for a toilet.   The routine is to put some water into the bottom of the bucket before use.  After use the bucket gets dumped overboard then cleaned with a toilet brush and rinsed with sea water.  The lid is then snapped back on and the bucket is stowed below.  For urinating, our friend Kate turned us on to using a Nestle's Quik container.  We'll be reporting on it after the voyage.   

Safety Harnesses:

We wanted safety harnesses that were comfortable enough to sleep in.  That's important because the off watch crew sometimes needs to come on deck quickly and if the harness is already on, it's one less step to do.  All the commercial models were either too heavy or had uncomfortable metal fittings that made them unsuitable for comfortable sleeping.  We instead designed our own. 

They were made of 1" and 2" flat nylon webbing, sewn with V-92 dacron thread.  They were custom sized for each of us, as they were non-adjustable in order to eliminate extra hardware. 

Harness with tether clipped in

Harness, rear view

Detail of sewing at bottom rear of harness

Front of harness with tether clipped in

Plastic quick release buckle secures harness in front when tether carabiner is not clipped on.

Overall view of harness
As with the other equipment described on this page, we'll be reporting on the harnesses after the voyage.       

Post-voyage comments (updated 10-14-2017):


Our Advanced Elements Convertible inflatable kayak only got a thumbs up in a couple areas.  It was relatively lightweight, easy to paddle, and tracked reasonably well.  While we're hard pressed to come up with a better solution for a boat as small as Minimus, it fell short on several accounts. 

Its length made it awkward to inflate on deck.  The method we eventually arrived at was to partially inflate it, then put it over the side and finish inflating it in the water.  That meant leaning over the side of the boat to finish the inflation process, which was challenging in a rolly anchorage.  Putting in the backbone was also done with the kayak in the water and was challenging for the same reasons.  Lining up the pins on one section of the backbone with the hole in the next was invariably a hassle.  On land it would have been fairly easy but reaching down over the side of a boat rolling back and forth was never something we looked forward to.

In contrast to a dinghy in which one has a seat up off the bottom, in the kayak we were sitting at floor level with the result that just about every time we paddled to shore we arrived with wet butts. 

The biggest disappointment though was the lack of adequately strong construction in one critical area.  In one of the most remote anchorages we visited, one of the main seams came apart on the Advanced Frame tube, which contains the inflation bladder.  Fortunately, another boat in the anchorage had a sewing machine and I was able to sew it back together.  The importance of a dinghy on a cruising boat can hardly be over-emphasized.  It's often used multiple times a day to get back and forth to shore and is sometimes necessary for setting and retrieving a second anchor.  This could have been a serious issue if the bladder had burst.  

Lastly, it was almost impossible to free a stuck anchor from the kayak, as its narrow beam inclined it to capsize if one tried to pull up the anchor with more than minimal force.  

Next time we'd go with a more conventional and rugged inflatable dinghy or a hard dinghy. 

Velcro on Advanced Elements inflatable kayak.  Velcro was sewn onto orange backing but then backing was merely glued onto underside of deck instead of being sewn on.  The glue soon failed allowing the velcro to detach from deck. 

Advanced Elements inflatable kayak.  This critical seam came apart.  The seam is part of the fabric sleeve that contains the inflation bladder.  The seam is critically important, yet was not engineered or sewn adequately strong.  Had we not discovered it in time, the inflation bladder would have ruptured, leaving us without a kayak.  Fortunately, we were able to sew it back together.   


A big thumbs up here.  We enjoyed listening to audiobooks every day of the trip, whether at sea or at anchor. 


For the most part, we didn't need the medical kit.  When I came down with septicemia we were very fortunate to be next to the only real hospital for 1000 miles around, so didn't need it then.  A surprising number of other sailors had foot infections, usually due to cuts or abrasions, so Bactroban (a much more effective topical antibiotic than the standard over-the-counter Triple Antibiotic ointment) is highly recommended. 


Our binoculars were far more used at anchor than at sea.  When sailing, the motion made using them difficult to use, but at anchor we often used them to see the name of a new boat coming into the anchorage, or to check out any number of things onshore.

The camera worked well until I accidentally dropped it overboard in the Tuamotus.  Fortunately we were able to substitute the built-in camera on the cell phone. 


The bucket worked well, as it always did on my previous boats. 

The urinal was the best design we've ever used.  An important design factor was that it was easy to pinch the urinal between the legs when both hands were needed to hold onto the boat in rough weather. 

The Nestle's Quik urinal got a big thumbs up from both of us.
Thanks for the suggestion Kate!

Safety harnesses:
These got a big thumbs up.  They were secure, comfortable for sleeping in and worked great.  We never took them off while on passage, except to bathe.