As with golfers or cooks or quilters, we sailors dearly love to receive gifts that support or contribute to our particular passion. But a gift selected simply for its nautical motif is likely to miss the mark. As a service to fellow sailors and an aid to non-sailors, I have decided to offer a selection of gift ideas that I am certain would light the eyes of the sailors I knowand almost certainly those of the sailors you know. These are all items with modest price tags. Regular readers will already know I consider it my mission, often a lonely one, to try to keep the cost of sailing out of the stratosphere, so high-dollar gift suggestions would be out of character.
Here, then, in no particular order, are my holiday gift suggestions. Many are available at your favorite chandlery, including here at SailNet. Others are hardware and/or department store items. Prices are approximate.
Insulated Tumblers We have used Tervis tumblers aboard for more than 20 years. An insulated tumbler can make one ice cube do the job that requires 3 cubes in a regular glass or plastic ware. ($30 to $40 set of 4)
Wire Drink Holders These handy gizmos hang from the lifelines to hold drinks level even while the boat heels. Look for a style that will accommodate a mug with a handle. ($20 a pair)
Folding Cooler Hard coolers, unless they are in use, are always in the way on a sailboat, but a folding cooler requires minimal stowage space and makes a nice hullside pad when not in use. Even where there is refrigeration aboard, a cooler is valuable for overflow, picnics, or breakdown. Bigger is not necessarily better for this item. ($25)
CD Case On sailboats with living accommodations, music is nearly always an important component. CD cases are ideal for sailboat use. ($5 to $25)
Rechargeable Spotlight Novice sailors may already have this aboard, but old salts will be "doin fine" with the plug-in spotlight that has been aboard for years. A cordless spotlight is a convenience we may not buy ourselves, which makes it a terrific gift. Make sure the light recharges on 12 volts and that it can be connected directly to a 12-volt source for continuous use. ($40 to $80)
Multi-Tool These were all the rage a few years back, and your sailor may have bought one then. However, designs have improved. If you pick a multi-tool that is light, comfortable, and has genuinely useful tools, this is a gift that will please. ($25 to $80)
Loos Tension Gauge Every sailor would like to have a tension gauge for tuning the rig, but only a few actually spring for this tool. Both the standard and the "Pro" models come in two sizes. The smaller size is for boats under about 25 feet. ($45)
Proper Ships Bucket A good bucket is a joy to most sailors. When we tie a rope to the bail and toss the bucket overboard to scoop up a bucket of seawater while the boat is underway, the strain is substantial. Typical household buckets soon pull apart. A heavy-duty rubber bucket with a thick, stainless bail securely attached will please the sailor on your list. A strong canvas bucket will get the same reaction. If a bucket doesnt seem festive enough to you, fill it with colored tissue and add a bottle of champagne. ($8 to $16)
|"Nothing is more versatile than the open-mouth canvas bag, and no sailor ever has too many."|
Sailing Hat A sailing hat is one that shades the face and ears from 10:00 to 2:00. Stay away from yachting and fishermans caps. Nothing stands up better to the harsh treatment a sailor can give a hat any better than canvas. Many prefer a wide-brimmed canvas hat, such as a Tilley or an Ultimate. Others are more comfortable in a billed cap. On the latter, a neck flap is a definite plus. ($15 to $40)
Sunglasses Save your sailor from cataracts by outfitting him or her with a pair of killer sunglasses. A wrap-around style offers the most protection for on-the-water use. Make sure the lenses are polarized and that they shield out 100 percent of UVA, UVB, and UVC. ($50 up)
Souwester Sailing days arent always full of sunshine. Your sailor will have foul weather gear aboard, but the hood on most foul-weather jackets is annoying, at best. It impairs vision, hearing, and even head movement. The solution is a waterproof hat with an extra long brim in the back, called a Souwester. It also makes your sailor look smart. You too. ($30)
Cruising Guide Most sailors have a "someday" trip they talk about--a summer Downeast, a winter in the Caribbean, a voyage to Tahiti. With the explosion of cruising guides in the last few years, it is possible to enhance your sailors big dream by giving a guide of the area he or she seems to find so alluring. If the price of a guide exceeds your budget, then a chart of the area provides a similar magic carpet ride at a lower fare. (Guides, $15 to $85, Charts $15)
|"When cruising in foreign waters, etiquette requires flying the flag of the country you are visiting."|
Shop Vac If your sailor is also a tinkerer, a shop-vac is a tool he may not have but will surely find indispensable after owning one. You want small but powerful. Dont buy a 12-volt vacuum cleaner. You want the power of a 110-volt motor. Enhancement projects typically happen at the dock anyway, and if not, a small inverter will handle the modest power requirements of a small shop-vac. I can personally recommend a little unit called a Stinger I see sold in most home-supply stores. ($25)
Impact Driver Here is another overlooked tool that no sailor should be without in the corrosion rich sailing environment. This tool converts a hammer blow into torque to unscrew frozen fasteners. When it is needed, this tool can, and usually does, save the day. ($20)
Flag Set This may be the best gift idea of the bunch. Signal flags today have very little practical use, but every sailor would love to own a flag set just to be able to "dress ship." Nothing makes a sailboat look more festive than 40 colorful flags popping in the breeze. That makes a flag set an innately festive gift. ($75)
Depth Sounder If you want to spend a little more on your sailor, I offer one final gift suggestion. Speedtech builds a portable depth sounder with the size and look of a yellow two-cell flashlight. The operator simply sticks the end in the water and pushes the switch to get an instant depth reading. Every sailor can imagine sounding channels and potential anchorages with this nifty device. But even if actual use turns out to be less frequent than imagined, it wont matter. This is one of those rare items that is just tres cool. ($150)
Thats the list. Happy shopping.
Buying Guide: Freshwater System Pumps
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