November 2011 Issue
Table of Contents
Holiday Gift Ideas
Practical Stocking Stuffers
Shopping for a tool junkie or a consummate do-it-yourselfer? Then you can’t go wrong with one of these handy little products: a ratcheting marine-wire crimper or self-loading screwdriver from Sailor’s Solutions Inc. Of course there are infinitesimal choices when it comes to buying tools that are valuable on a boat, but these three caught our eye this season, and they are affordable enough to classify as stocking stuffers.
We consider any electrical work to be among the more daunting tasks aboard a boat. Having the right tools for these jobs can make a world of difference, both during installation and over the long haul as watertight, properly crimped connections will far outlast poorly executed ones. The Sailor’s Solutions Ratcheting Wire Crimper (WP042) helps ensure shrink terminals are properly crimped every time thanks to its controlled-cycle action; it won’t release until the full cycle is complete. Another unique feature of the tool is that it will work in left-handed and right-handed situations; being ambidextrous is a must when you’re trying to squeeze in the tight confines of engine compartments and electrical control panels! Designed for use with waterproof shrink terminals (sizes 22-10 AWG) and splices, the crimper’s precision dies are color-coded to industry standards, making it easy to get the right fit when you’re crimping. Sailor’s Solutions retails the crimper for $40 online.
Another Sailor’s Solution tool that would make for a practical but cool gift is the Classic AutoLoader, an easy-to-use, multi-bit, self-loading screwdriver. Rather than having to keep up with a half-dozen different sizes of Phillips- and flat-head screwdrivers, or replacing lost interchangeable bits, AutoLoader users have them all in one tool, kind of like six screwdrivers in one for just $20.
Switching bits is easy: Pull back the handle, twist it until it’s in line with the desired bit, push handle forward, then get to work. It literally takes a few seconds to change bits. The AutoLoader comes pre-loaded with six commonly used screwdriver sizes—three Phillips (1, 2, 3) and three flat-head (1/8, 3/16, 1/4)—but the bits are run-of-the-mill hardware hex-base bits, so you can load in whatever sizes you use the most often.
The AutoLoader creators obviously had sailors in mind when they designed the tool: It even has an anti-roll handle. And while the bits and driver shaft could fall victim to corrosion—what tool doesn’t on a boat?—the AutoLoader’s budget-friendly price ensures users would get their (or your) money’s worth.
If you’re on the hunt for gifts for a small-boat or trailer-sailer owner, the DrainPlug Wrench may be worth considering. We’ve known several daysailer skippers (and numerous powerboaters) that have nearly sunk their boats before realizing they’d forgotten to put the drain plug in before launching. These same skippers, occasionally, have a heck of a time locating said drain plug once the boat is safely back on the trailer. Well, the guys at Braid Products have come up with an uber-simple solution: the DrainPlug Wrench, a floating keychain with a compartment for storing a drain plug plus a spare and a molded end that can be used to remove stuck plugs. While its main function is to wrench out stubborn drain plugs, we like the idea of using it as a keychain for boat keys or car keys, which would take advantage of its much more valuable function, in our opinion. Attached to keys, it’s as a subtle reminder to put the plug in, and it serves as a designated place to store the plug and a backup. It’s well worth the $12, even if it’s just used for some friendly ribbing of a plug-forgetting giftee.