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.
Anyone who's ever been in a vigorous thunderstorm aboard a vessel with a tall aluminum mast knows the helpless feeling of vulnerability to the randomness of lightning. I've also seen enough pictures of holes blown through hulls from lightning strikes to want some form of lightning protection. We aren't particularly concerned with losing electronics, since most of ours are portable units (handheld VHF, tablet and smart phone, etc.) that can be entirely disconnected from the boat's electric system. They can then be stowed inside a metal cooking pot which will act as a Faraday cage to protect them. Our main concern was with the safety of the boat and ourselves.
Our lightning rod is a 5/16" diameter aluminum rod bolted to the side of the mast at the masthead. The top of the rod is about 14" above the masthead fitting and is sharpened as recommended by lightning experts. In the event of an approaching lightning storm, we'll secure a 15' piece of 2 gauge copper cable to the base of the mast using stainless steel hose clamps. The other end of the cable will be dropped overboard to serve as a ground. The portion of each cable that will be in the water is about 8' long and has the insulation stripped off. To increase the seawater contact area, a piece of copper sheet 6" by 24" is bolted to the submerged end of the cable. Normally, the cable will be stowed below decks, to be deployed only when lightning is approaching but still distant.
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.