There are dozens of innovations available for yachts these days. I like the simplest, and those that solve real, everyday practical problems. Here are two of our own improvisations, which proved their value on our voyage:

Low-tech: Bean bag sail ties

For years we’ve struggled with sail ties which fly away in the wind, making it difficult to pass them round the sail and boom. We came up with a simple solution: bean bags. Having found some suitable, we sewed them onto our sail ties so that their weighted end could more easily be thrown over the sail, even in a breeze. Here they are in action:

Caroline throwing the weighted sail tie over the sail

High-tech: GoPro submarine

I would not choose to swim beneath the boat while at sea, unless as a desperate last resort. So the risk of potential entanglement in ropes, or any other problem involving the keel, rudder or propeller, fills me with dread. This innovation won’t disentangle a rope, but helps work out what’s going on under water.

We managed to avoid pot-buoys for 2,500 nautical miles, but at one point we could feel a strange vibration on the rudder, and the boat was going slower than we’re used to. It was time to deploy innovation number two: The Go-Pro.

By simply clamping our Go-Pro camera to the boat hook, I was able to sweep this around under water and capture video that showed us the problem (in this case our saildrive rubber gaiter had come loose).

GoPro Hero 5 Session, with its clamp

The GoPro is a Hero 5 ‘Session’, bought refurbished from eBay. The clamp is one of many attachments that I bought separately (and cheaply) as a kit.

What are your favourite practical innovations? We’d welcome learning from others, especially where costs are low and benefits are high.