Storm jib = crucial on a NB 17.5 in my opinion, the NB is overpowered by her working jib, especially on the end of the bowsprit. Jibs for her should Have their tack at the bow. A storm jib is SO helpful when you have a reef (or two) in the main.
The mast lowering system was great. We dropped the mast in one minute, and raised it in two, generally. Effort required, but no gymnastics. Go ahead; scandalize the Bimini.
We REALLY liked using the cigarette lighter jacks to plug in the solar panel and our iPhones. We were texting and emailing with abandon. Sad we didn’t escape technology, perhaps, but nice.
The MREs worked.
A silTarp over the mast when down was an excellent shelter. I rigged shock cords to various bits on deck ahead of time, and it went up quickly and worked perfectly.
The Garmin 78 was fine, although the 78 SC was sexier (Bluetooth sharing of waypoints and tracks).
The twings are very useful for jib sail shape, though I cannot actually say I can see the jib while sailing… Doing it by estimation and “minds eye”.
Autopilot: really helpful for those times it can take over the tiller and allow you to concentrate on other things. If I was solo, it would have been a huge advantage. Sailing with crew it was still useful as all heck. I have to design a beefier method of attaching it to the tiller, though.
Extra bouyancy bags: don’t leave home without them.
Drysuits: worth every penny. Smartwool long underwear is worth even more.
Bivy sacks: awesome. Should have gotten better mattresses, though. Don’t skimp: sleep is crucial.
Taking out the forward floorboards was a good idea. It meant we had someplace to store extra oars and gear.
I picked up some automotive suction cups with bungee cord/ ball keepers. We put two inside under the spray dodger (very useful, btw) and two on the deck. Used them to hold halyards and sails on deck. Nice.
The kick-up rudder kept popping up because of wave action and/or boat speed. I need to put a stronger bungee on it, perhaps consider the push-rod method of reseting it on the NB website. Pronto. New oarlocks, too.
The beach rollers worked. The NB fully loaded is heavy. No other way to start.
My packing organization needs work. Didn’t find some useful items until later in the race.
Can’t do this race competitively without having sailed the waters, since some of the best weather to travel is at night. Probably helps to have camped the boat before, preferably multi-night.