Everybody has a list of liveaboard comfort items that they can't do without. Here are a few of mine.
A Bimini Top is usually a canvas awning stretched over a frame that shelters the cockpit from the blazing sun while you are underway.
The frame gives the awning stiffness so it won't tear or blow away while you are moving at a good clip.
It also provides excellent shelter when you are in a marina or on a mooring. In addition to keeping the sun away, it is also useful for keeping you dry when the boat is in a slip or on the mooring during a heavy rain.
It adds to the liveable space of your boat.
Here is the Bimini Top on AWOL. Notice how the forward area has been enclosed with additional canvas and plastic to turn the Bimini Top into a dodger that helps keep the boat dry while underway.
When not underway, I kept the center panel zipped in and the cockpit became a dry back porch where I could sit and enjoy the rain.
Boat awnings are usually not designed to be used underway. They can be stretched over the boom of a sailboat, for example, to provide shade on your deck and to deflect the rainfall. Smaller versions can also be stretched over open hatches.
My CSY33 had an awning to shelter the cockpit rather than a Bimini Top. It was secured to the boom gallows forward of the companionway hatch and rolled out when needed and was secured to the aft standing rigging, the back stays. In the photo below it's rolled up against the boom gallows. It worked fine both underway and on the hook or in a slip.
Good weather resistant cockpit cushions will add to your liveaboard comfort. The cockpit becomes your porch and you will sit there more than any other area of the boat.
The cockpit above belongs to a Nonsuch 30 sailboat. Good custom made cushions are not cheap, but they are worth every penny.
Gas or Charcoal Grill
One of these clamped on your stern rail will make your cockpit become not just a porch, but a place where you can take many of your meals. They can be fired up using propane or charcoal. Check out your marina, however. Many marinas do not allow grills to be used on boats or docks. These marinas often provide grills ashore for their boaters to use.
A good cockpit table can make meals much more convenient and enjoyable. Most of them are designed to be removed or folded so they do not obstruct the cockpit when they are not needed.
Here is the cockpit table on my CSY 33 Silverheels. Like many liveaboards, my cockpit became the social center of life on the boat. If you want to socialize with your dock neighbors in the marina, keep your boat in the slip with the stern next to the dock. The cockpit becomes your porch.
If you are not so chatty, put the stern away from the dock and enjoy a quiet place to sit and contemplate the natural world around you.
By Mike Miller, Copyright 2012-2023 Living-Aboard.com