Holiday Gifts Ideas for Sailors
Stylish, Sun-Smart Sailor
Even if your favorite sailor was cheering for the Kiwis when Oracle Team USA pulled off its improbable 9-8 comeback to defend the Cup, you’ll find something to like in the gear commemorating the 34th America’s Cup. Remember the event by gifting the AC34 fan or catamaran convert on your list an Oracle Team USA ball cap, T-shirt, or jacket, or side with the hard-fighting Kiwis and gift Emirates Team New Zealand gear. Inventories were low at presstime, but Oracle Team USA, Team New Zealand, and America’s Cup gifts are still available, and more gear is expected soon.
You’ll find Oracle gear on the Puma website (www.puma.com) and AC34 shirts, fleece, hoodies, caps, and visors on the official America’s Cup website (www.americascup.com), which will be selling commemorative products until Dec. 31. Emirates Team New Zealand gear, including shirts, caps, jackets, and fleece, is available from the Emirates Team New Zealand online store (www.emiratesteamnzshop.com, new inventory expected mid-November) and North Sails website (www.northsails-sportswear.com). Prices vary, so there’s something to fit every budget.
The Book Hound
“Sailing on the Edge”: Another commemorative gift for the AC34 enthusiast is “Sailing on the Edge: America’s Cup” (Insight Editions, 2013, $50 online), a beautiful coffee-table book that covers the long and colorful history of the America’s Cup, from 1851’s race around the Isle of Wight to the lead-up for this year’s showdown on San Francisco Bay. The 232-page book is a cross between a deluxe scrapbook and a maritime cliffhanger, with more than 200 photos of the majestic yachts and historical figures that have raced for the Auld Mug. Sections include sail plans of early America’s Cup defenders, vintage posters, newspaper clippings from historic campaigns, and a pull-out booklet detailing the new AC LiveLine technology. PS found the pull-out copy of the sail plan of Reliance and historical photos of the 1899 Columbia campaign particularly compelling. (www.insighteditions.com)
“Sailing”: Our second book pick is an exceptional choice for the luckiest person on your list. Onne van der Wal’s stunning, oversized photo book, “Sailing” (Rizzoli, 2013, $100), captures 200 vibrant color photos of our favorite sport from one end of the globe to the other.
Van der Wal, who was a sailor long before he was a photographer, has spent his life on the water, capturing images from the tropics to the icy poles, from the Mediterranean to his home base in Narragansett Bay, R.I. The recently released, 288-page book includes an introduction by veteran ocean racer, author, and PS contributor Herb McCormick; five panoramic pull-out pages; and an index of photo-taking information. As a special treat, a photo index contains the latitude and longitude of each photo’s location, so instead of wondering where a photo was taken?,” you can pull out your GPS and be on your way. Other gift ideas featuring Van der Wal’s amazing marine photography—calendars, notecards, posters, and limited-edition prints—are available on his website (www.vanderwal.com), along with “Sailing.” (www.rizzoliusa.com)
The Java Lover
Know someone who will be up all night wrapping presents, or sitting the dogwatch Christmas Eve? Make their day by stashing this trio of coffee-related items under the tree.
Clever Dripper: During Practical Sailor’s never-ending search for the perfect onboard coffee-brewing method, editors stumbled across an appealing compromise: a full-immersion, drip-brew plastic cone. Made by Coffee Shrub in Taiwan, the Clever Dripper is a 13-ounce, 6 x 6 x 6-inch BPA-free plastic cone. What sets this cone filter apart from others is its shutoff valve, which holds the coffee in the cone until the brewing process is complete.
Testers found the Clever Dripper easy to use and to clean. Simply sit the cone atop its included plastic coaster, insert a paper filter, and fill with ground coffee and boiling water. The plastic stopper valve holds the hot water in the cone while the coffee steeps; an included plastic lid can be secured over the cone during the 4-minute steeping process. Once the coffee is brewed, the cone can be placed on top of a coffee mug or thermos, and the coffee drains directly into the container. To clean up, just remove the paper filter and toss it.
The valve design enables the cone to offer the taste of French Press-brewed coffee and the easy cleanup of drip machines and paper cones. The cone, which holds 16 ounces of water, fits containers with mouths ranging from 1.5 to 3.75 inches in diameter. It sells for $22 online. (www.sweetmarias.com)
Travel Companion Thermos: No gift set for a java-loving sailor would be complete without a top-notch thermos to keep coffee warm through those wintery daysails and long night watches.
Thermos Nissan’s 16-ounce, vacuum-insulated stainless-steel Travel Companion fits the bill. Testers found that the compact Thermos was able to keep coffee hot for up to 12 hours, and it kept cold liquids cold for 24 hours. The one-pint, lightweight design is BPA free, fits most cupholders, and comes with a built-in stainless-steel cup. It has a five-year warranty and sells for $27 online. It’s also available in a 26-ounce size. (www.thermos.com)
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)
Stylish, Sun-Smart Sailor
Sperry sailing mocs and Columbia Sportswear’s cooling, UV-protective neck buff are great gift options for the trendy, sun-smart, practical sailor.
Sperry Sea Kite: Released this year, the sporty and comfortable men’s Sea Kite Sport Mocs from Sperry offer a modern update to the classic sailing moc style. The new shoes combine a water-resistant, leather and mesh upper that fits like a tennis shoe with the classic stitching and laces of a boat shoe. We tested the grey model, which has splashy orange lining, trim, and accents; a more traditional brown model is also available.
Testers found the shoes comfortable and versatile: Their non-marking, grippy soles make them a good choice for onboard wear, and their modern styling means they’re attractive enough to wear out to dinner.
The Sea Kite sole features Sperry’s Adaptive Wave-Siping, which is designed to disperse water underfoot and assist in stability and slip-resistance in wet and dry conditions. Testers put the Sea Kite shoes through the inclined traction test we put all test shoes through to simulate heeling angle. The Sperrys showed good traction during tests, allowing testers to say put at 35-degree heel on wet and dry teak and a 30-degree heel on nonskid; this was on par with many sailing shoes we’ve tested in the past.
The leather-mesh combination allows some breathing in the shoe, but with quality tight seams and leather uppers, don’t count on the shoes to be quick draining. Removable insoles help with dry time, and a pull tab on the heel helps with quick donning and doffing.
The Sea Kites retail for $100 on Sperry’s website. (www.sperrytopsider.com)
Columbia Neck Gaiter: The Columbia Freezer Zero Neck Gaiter is a lightweight neck buff that offers UPF 50 sun protection and a cooling sensation for those who like to stick their neck out on the water. Columbia’s Omni-Freeze Zero fabric, which we tested during our review of Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero shirts (PS Recommended, May 2013), features a cooling technology that lowers the temperature of the fabric when it reacts with sweat.
The infinity-scarf-style gaiter can be worn pulled down around the base of the neck to protect the lower neck and décolletage from the sun’s rays, or pulled high, up over the ears, mouth and nose (bank-robber style), for partial facial protection. Testers found that the breathable and cooling fabric was comfortable, even when wearing the gaiter over the nose and mouth in South Florida’s blistering summer sun and heat. Our past tests have also shown that barrier protection like fabric is superior to sunscreens when it comes to battling harmful UV (PS, October 2010).
The neck gaiter costs $30 on the Columbia website and is an ideal gift for sailors, fishermen, and anyone who spends time outdoors in sunny climes. (www.columbia.com)
New Sailor or Boatowner
Know someone who’s new to boat ownership or cruising? Consider gifting them a Practical Sailor subscription or one of our e-books, which cover everything from man-overboard and safety at sea to marine sanitation systems, sails, and essential marine cleaners. Our online bookstore also offers a library of PS editor-picked must-have resources for the sailor and boat owner. (www.practical-sailor.com)