Bear in mind we are sailors of only moderate experience, 5 years ago neither of us had sailed a yacht.
The preparation of Nightshift for coastal cruising is similar to preparing the yacht to be Category 1 for cruising offshore. Many of the things done to Nightshift are "nice to have's" but not really essential for coastal passage making, but we kinda like the idea of having things stronger than they need to be.
We have carried this theme right through the boat and find we have very few breakages of gear regardless of conditions. For example; when we purchased Nightshift we were looking for a yacht to go offshore in and Nightshift already had every deck fitting, fairlead tracks and stanchions backed with wooden blocks and metal plates. Nightshift has two backstays and two forestays, (however I know of other H28's that have been offshore with only one of each with no problems).
I have all galvanised rigging, which I replaced last year. I wanted galvanised because the last lot was galv and it lasted 17 years before showing signs of wear. According to the rigging specialist I spoke to it's just as strong and has the advantage of showing wear, whereas stainless looks great the day before it breaks. Galv also cost's much less.
We had a deck step built by a boat builder across the entrance to the companionway to raise the cockpit floor to the height of the cockpit seats at the forward end of the cockpit. This is a Category 1 requirement. It has the advantage of giving an extra seat in the cockpit where someone can sit clear of the winches. It also reduces the cockpit volume which helps it drain quicker when filled.
We also have a good quality servo pendulum windvane. This is also not essential but is a huge help, particularly when sailing short handed. It completely relieves Rachel and I from the helm leaving the on watch person to drink soup, read books, fish and do the odd bit of sail trimming and navigation, making a big difference to fatigue. If buying a windvane for an H28 there are several good brands, but beware that because of H28's big barn door rudder with the leading edge attached to the keel, they are heavier on the helm than many yachts their size. When I asked Mr Fleming of Fleming windvanes in San Diego via email he stated he had fitted numerous of his vanes to H28's but that theyneeded the vane for 50 foot yachts not 30 foot ones. We ended up with a second hand "Sailomat" windvane designed for a much larger yacht, this works very well even downwind in light conditions.
On the sailing front, I added a second forestay as originally we only had a single one which was the roller furler. We soon discovered that the roller furler is a great thing when sailing in relatively sheltered waters and off the wind but going into wind they are more limited the more they are furled. There are a few reasons for this, some roller furlers end up with a saggy luff when significantly furled because the belly of the sail is on the furling spar. Foam padded luffs etc help but its still not tight like a hank on sail. Also the sail itself gets higher in the rigging the further it is furled exerting more heeling force, as the higher the sail area the more leverage it has on the yacht. The same sail area in a hank on jib will have more sail closer to the deck than the same size of roller furled sail.
The other problem is disturbed air flow. I am a bit of a novice atsailing but in my younger days I was a keen hanglider pilot. I once bought a new glider with the leading edge of the wing made of Mylar, its the equivalent of the luff on a sail. My old glider used to perform the same in the rain as the dry but my new glider with its mylar leading edge caused water droplets to bead on the leading edge and I discovered to my horror that in the rain the new glider flew like a brick. I had to fly twice as fast to prevent a stall and every time I tried to turn it wanted to sideslip - all this from a few water droplets, imagine what a fat roll of furled saildoes to the airflow on our sail which is just a wing rigged vertically.
Due to the above I would recommend a wire forestay as well as the roller furler and some hank on sails for use in higher winds. Which in New Zealand waters seem to occur frequently. Going to windward in anything over 20knots or so is much better with a hank on sail. When we sailed around the North Island we used a hank on working jib 80 percent of the time, although thanks to El Nino it was unusually bad weather. We nowhave a good selection of hank on sails. We added the second forestay beside the roller furler avoiding theproblems with one of the forestays interfering with the other when tacking.
As for the main sail, I wouldn't be without a third reef in the main. I know that most yachts now have only two reefs and if you only sail in Tasman Bay or the Hauraki Gulf that might be fine but for longer coastal passages the third reef is great. If you only have two reefs it is too big a jump from the second reef tothe trisail. I suppose you could get around this by having a bigger trisail, but then you'll be oversailed at higher windspeeds. Also its easier to just tuck in another reef rather than rig a separate sail. The combination of the third reef and storm jib will take you through most gales. If things get really bad we have a second track up the mast for the trisail, this enables the trisail to be hanked on and lashed to the baseof the mast so if needed it can be rigged quickly and easily.
We also have mast steps/rat lines. Wire jackstays rigged on both sides of the yacht which don't deteriorate in UV like the webbing or rope ones.
The lower half of the tiller has been modified and made out of marinestainless as H28's have been known to snap them where they join the top of the rudder.
I have storm boards made out of heavy marine ply that bolt over the large windows, which we leave on all the time in open ocean. Surprisingly the small windows at the front let in enough light so the storm boards don't make things too dark.
We don't have to do too much more when we head overseas, the floor boards still have to be pinned, nets rigged over shelves and other small stuff like that.
We have purchased a good quality SSB which I will fit shortly. We are going to buy a life raft just before we leave, at the moment we don't carry one except on the trip around the North Island when I hired one from RFD.
The only other things we want to do before heading off shore is perhaps do some more Coastguard courses. I currently have my Boatmasters and Rachel has her Coastal Skippers. I hope that answers your questions, remember that most of these things are nice to haves and probably all the standard H28s would be fine as they are. Looking at some of the modern cruising yachts we have met at various ports most standard H28's are already stronger than many other cruising yachts.