November 2013 Issue
Holiday Gifts Ideas for Sailors
Small-Boater and Gadgetphile
Brighten someone’s holidays with a personal light or feed the gadget-junky’s cravings with a smartphone wind meter.
Vaavud: Ronstan International is marketing a new product that can turn smartphones or digital tablets into portable wind instruments. The pocketsize Vaavud Smartphone Wind Meter allows users to measure wind speed using iOS or Android smartphones or tablets. It features a cup-style anemometer with a one-piece molded rotor and low-friction Teflon bearing.
Testers found the Vaavud’s setup and operation simple and intuitive: After downloading the free Vaavud app, snap the wind meter into the headphone port of a smartphone or tablet, and hit start. The Vaavud is not affected by changes in wind direction.
The app home screen shows mean, actual, and max wind speeds, and users can select the preferred measurement—knots, miles (or kilometers) per hour, meters per second, or Beaufort scale. The Vaavud has a wind range of 4 to 48 knots, and a graph displays the historical wind-speed data.
The app works with Weendy, a growing, community-based, crowdshare weather network that allows you to see and share real-time weather conditions in your area.
Vaavud’s portability and ruggedness are bonuses for sailors, surfers, and cockpit meteorologists. It weighs less than an ounce, uses no batteries or electronics, and is easy to clean—just rinse away salt spray or sand with fresh water. The Vaavud is waterproof, however, it does not float, as testers found out the hard way.
Vaavud works with iPhone 4, 4s, 5, and iPads that run on iOS 6 or 7. The Vaavud is shipped set up for use with the iPhone and iPad, but the unit we tested came with an adapter to use it with Android-based products like the Samsung Galaxy line. There is a list of Vaavud-compatible devices on the company website.
Some phone cases have a tethered plastic plug protecting the headphone jack port, and in tests using an iPhone 4s in an Otterbox Defender case, the cap rubbed against the anemometer, affecting accuracy.
Developed in Denmark and manufactured in China, the Vaavud is distributed here by Ronstan International. It was recently nominated for a prestigous DAME design award during the 2013 Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The handy, useful device, which costs $50 and comes with a neoprene carrying case, would make a great stocking stuffer for small-boat and tech-savvy sailors or other water enthusiasts, especially when paired with a waterproof phone case like the PS Best Choice LifeProof (PS, November 2012), which is now available for iPhone 5 and some Android-based models. (www.vaavud.com, www.ronstan.com, www.lifeproof.com)
TerraLux TT3: The ergonomic TerraLux TT3, designed for military tactical and self-defense applications, has a bulletproof anodized aluminum casing and an advanced LED technology, making it a good fit for the often-tough sailing life. Testers were impressed with the Cree Gen 2 XPG LED bulbs’ brightness, and the TT3’s spotlighting, beam focus, and moderate power consumption. Like the best flashlights in our 2007 LED flashlight test (PS, December 2007), the TerraLux TT3 has an O-ring-sealed screw cap that offers access to the battery port and also functions as the on/off switch. The rubber pushbutton activates three lighting modes and an attention-grabbing strobe light with a one-hand-operable switch.
Two AA batteries are needed for a very bright 225 lumens of light. The working voltage is between 1.8 and 3.2 volts, and the run times are estimated at 1.3 hours on high, eight hours on medium, and 90 hours when placed on its lowest light setting. The petite flashlight measures 9.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 inches and meets IPX8 water-resistance standards, meaning it’s submersible to 6 feet for four hours. The TerraLux has a tempered-glass lens and comes with a spare switch cover, a spare O-ring, a holster, lanyard, and spring clip. It sells for $60 online. (www.terraluxportable.com)
Streamlight Siege Lantern: Streamlight is a well-known maker of durable, high-quality personal lights used by military, police, and fire departments. The company, whose Waypoint Rechargeable notched a Best Choice in our spotlight test (PS, September 2013), recently released a new LED lantern, the Siege.
The Siege is compact (7.25 inches tall by 3.7 inches wide), rugged, impact resistant, rated as submersible to 3 feet for 30 minutes (IPX7), and it floats. It features four white LEDs and one red LED, and offers five lighting modes: high, medium, and low white, steady night-vision red, and flashing red.
What testers liked about the Siege was that it can be carried by its handle, stood upright, or hung by its D-rings for even, 360-degree lighting.
The Siege uses three D-size alkaline batteries that provide soft light for up to about 300 hours, or 12 days on the low setting, and it includes a battery-level indicator so you know how much juice it has left. In the emergency SOS flashing mode, the batteries can last up to 18 days.
With a retail price of $39, it would make a great cockpit or cabin light, and would be a practical gift for small-boat sailors and those who also enjoying camping. (www.streamlight.com)