I've been back in Phoenix for the three weeks since buying the boat in Florida. We've been remodeling our kitchen, so we've got quite a mess going. I've spent too much time and money reading sailing articles and prepping for our shakedown cruise. I've decided that we're not refitting the electronics on Istana. They're old, but technology is changing so dramatically that I don't want to buy anything I don't need until I really need it. We're also not 100% committed to the sailing "lifestyle" so I don't want to "invest" in permanent high-cost upgrades. What I've bought is portable and relatively inexpensive. To give you an idea what the sailing press considers "inexpensive"- I just read a Cruising World article about upgrading the electronics on a sailboat and their "inexpensive" package was $5000, their intermediate package- $15,000 and their dream package- sky's the limit, if you have to ask you can't afford it.
It is essential to know where you are (and I don't know how to use a sextant) so I've got three redundant navigation "systems", all of which run on hardware I already have. #1, My MacBook Air with OpenCpn, an open-source software product that is FREE, has FREE chart downloads, can interface with a $20 plug-in GPS puck, and is great for planning trips, getting details about anchorages, etc.
Communications- This is not a necessity, people sailed for millenia without a two-way radio! But radio communication is now ubiquitous. A hand-held VHF unit came with Istana and I had one from previous trips. This is line-of-sight, handhelds will reach out about 2 miles to other boats or 20 miles to Coast Guard high antennae. VHF also is a weather information source (very important). Weather info is now one of the main justifications for multi-$1000 communications. I have bought a SDR radio that plugs into the USB port on my laptop and it will receive weatherfax transmissions, weather maps, warnings, etc. Cost- $25. I have splurged a bit on a satellite phone ($150+$25 for 2nd battery) and an ePIRB- a satellite distress beacon- $50+200 for a new battery (over $400 new).
Motive force- I love to sail and the sails are super expensive to replace with new, so taking care of the ones we have is essential. Sail tape, heavy thread, massive needles, a sailing palm. (Cost about $50)
I've also had Tom replace all the halyards (5- Main, Jib, Spinnaker, Mizzen, and Mizzen foresail!) ($350 plus labor) Another sail-related expense is a hand-held anemometer! This little thing was about $80, tells wind speed, direction, humidity, barometric pressure, temperature, wind-chill and more! And it connects to my phone or ipad via bluetooth! Cool.
Speaking of books- I've bought some. Hard tellin, not knowin' but a few-cruising lifestyle stories, how-to, fixing old boats, coastal navigation, fishing, emergency medicine, etc. Particularly enjoyed Dungda de Island by Charles Dougherty, an author from Maine who also wrote a wonderful book about cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. I have to say- reading about it is WAY cheaper than buying a boat!