When you set off cruising, you may be tempted to purchase every accessory that you think will make your life easier. The truth is, all these accessories will become a monstrous headache!
The gear that you do need to go cruising is a good rudder, steering, sails, and good rigging. This will make your boat move forward toward your destination. All other accessories are just that, accessories and not necessities. As long as you remember that these are accessories and not necessities, you will be much happier as you sail along and these accessories fail and break down along the way.
A sturdy rudder and steering system is crucial as it will give your yacht directional control. If you lose your rudder, you lose the ability to steer the vessel and reaching your destination will become a lot more complicated!
Be sure to inspect the rudder blade and the attachment of the rudder to the rudder post. Should the connection to the rudder post fail, the rudder will simply flow in the water behind the keel and not steer you along.
The next point of failure is the steering system. The simplest method to steer would be to use a tiller connected directly to the rudder. A tiller provides a direct and secure method to steer the boat that is as non-complex as possible. The other option for steering is to use a wheel which is connected to the rudder post via a system of linkages or cables. Wheels are considered more comfortable by some, but they do provide a place where failure could occur.
Sails are what give a sailboat its name. If you didn't have sails, your yacht would be called a powerboat! Sails will power you through the water indefinitely. There are no fuel levels or concerns with sails as they are powered by the wind, and wind exists everywhere on the water. Carrying the right sails and flying the appropriate sails will allow your yacht to sail through the seas to anywhere your hear desires.
The final ingredient in the required gear to carry is the most important in my opinion: Good rigging. Rigging will hold the sails up so that they can power your vessel and move you along. If your rigging is bad, it will not be able to safely fly your sails, meaning that you won't be able to move along towards your destination.
This may sound overly simplistic when it is broken down to these four essential items, but the truth is that it is this simple! A sailboat only needs a rudder, steering, sails, and good rigging to sail. Everything else on the boat is an accessory and should never take priority over these four on the repair list. If you arrive somewhere with a torn sail and a dirty fuel filter, the sail repair should be addressed before the fuel filter.
Keeping your priorities straight will allow you to keep sailing for longer and happier. If your refrigerator dies while sailing or your water heater stops working, you will still be able to sail as long as you have a sound rudder, steering, sails, and rigging.