A lot of our best time on the water consists of simple day-cruising in familiar waters. But if you're taking on a bigger voyage, say, 600-plus miles to Bermuda, then you'll need to make sure you're traveling with the equipment you need. Here are a couple of our essential picks for making the trip.
Autopilot: Every boater loves the feel of the wheel under their hands as they cruise, but on long, straight shots, the feel of the wheel may get a little old. For most Bermuda-bound boaters, the trip is usually a relatively long, relatively straight shot out of the Bahamas, the Caribbean or the Eastern shores of the United States. On long trips, especially for those without a large crew, the ability to keep on course and stay on your heading is very important. For this, the best thing is a reliable autopilot system. One that's worth a look is the ST70 SmartPilot X-10 Hydraulic System for Powerboats from Raymarine. For more information head to www.raymarine.com.
Cruising Guide: A trustworthy and reliable cruising guide should always be on board while cruising, even for those boaters who don't stray too far from their home port and are typically covering familiar waters. This holds especially true for Bermuda. The winds and currents can build shoals where the charts don't record, and a friendly call into port for some local knowledge can go a long way in helping to find a cove for an evening's anchorage or trying to time entering an inlet. The Bermuda Boater, 2nd Edition, written by Ralph Richardson, commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, is a real insider's guide to Bermuda waters from a man who's known them well his whole life. For more information on cruising Bermuda head to bermudaboater.com.
VHF Radio: No one needs to be reminded of why a VHF is an essential piece of cruising gear. Definitely handy closer to shore, it'll also keep you in touch with nearby vessels on your passage to Bermuda. Once you're there, it's worth its weight in gold: The people of Bermuda are generally friendly and welcoming, but no one likes a guest to show up unannounced. Make sure you call ahead and bring your arrival to the attention of the local harbormasters. The latest and greatest in handheld VHF technology comes from Standard Horizon, with their new HX850S model, a VHF radio with a GPS transceiver, DSC Distress calling, and the ability to float. For a full set of specs on the HX850S head to www.standardhorizon.com.