I'm gradually outfitting my boat for the eventual cruise and agree with the 'going small and simple' approach. I like the idea of having a handheld GPS, or two, or three, or four, as a system independent of the ship's power. I'll be adding this to my list of purchases for the boat.
One of the things I'll be installing this year on my boat is a wind-vane, a fleming 301 global minor, which I got for a very good deal. I don't see windvanes around much and I'm not sure if most of the boats in my area don't cruise far or if everyone is using electric autopilots instead. I use the electric autopilot now and then but I wouldn't want to trust it to keep up with my boat's yawing on a bad sea or use all that electricity. I've also sailed a fair amount with sheet to tiller arrangements, which work to varying degrees, but I think of this as more of a back-up plan if my windvane breaks.
I like having my systems as simple and as manual as possible, with back-ups and spares. My boat is rigged with an inner forestay and running back-stays to add extra sail arrangements and mast support if needed. New oversized rigging. I have a GPS unit and a chartplotter, depthsounder, VHF (with DSC interfaced with both GPS units) and lighting (interior, deck level nav., masthead nav., spreader work light, steaming) for my electrical draws, which I think is fairly modest. One 60W solar panel and four 6v batteries keep up with all this fine. I also have manual charts and all the tools and use them. Manual lavac head. Alcohol stove. Lots of anchoring gear. No refridgerator. No internal engine; I have a small 6hp outboard (two tanks, two fuel lines) for docking and getting home without any wind. It seems like a lot of people spend A LOT of time and money on their engines and maintenence. Jordan drogue. Life raft. And lots of other stuff.
Most importantly, I get out there and sail as much as the short Maine season will allow. I love to read and plan but I'm a 'hands-on' kinda guy and getting out on the water in my boat is the best way to apply what I've learned and improve my skills.
Congratulations of your most recent passage, Vega, and thanks for letting me know that my modest boat and approach to outfitting isn't unseaworthy or dated.
who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little