Chandlery: Practical Sailor Holiday Gift Ideas 2010

Every November, Practical Sailor editors celebrate the impending holiday season by reviewing gift ideas for the sailors on your list-or to add to your wishlist. This years wrap-up covers a range of interests and includes something to fit every budget. Looking for a new gizmo for the gadget junkie? Check out solar-powered, water-resistant Eton Soulra sound system, which can play most MP3 players and iPods, iTouch and iPhones while charging them. Or take a look at the SolarTech SolarPulse, a solar-powered device that charges and maintains a ship's batteries. The featured galley goodies from Galleyware and JetBoil will make practical gifts for those galley goddesses, and the Sailor's Solutions wireless remote switch for 12-volt devices is a good stocking-stuffer for creative boat owners and those looking for convenience.

Folding Cart Does Yeomans Duty

In our previous review of dock carts, folding file carts were a standout. Marina carts are a hike to retrieve and return, where as the folding carts can be packed into a space no larger than a brief case in 5-10 seconds, fitting handily in the truck or in a locker. The downside is limited capacity (15 x 13.5 x 14 inches deep and light construction, bordering on flimsy. Prices start at about from $22. Are the trade-offs worth it?

Ocean Tested: A Professional Carpenter and Cruiser Tells Practical Sailor Whats in His Power-tool...

In the last decade, tool manufacturers have drastically improved their standard products. Today, all of the major manufacturers offer professional-grade power tools at reasonable prices. My personal choices are based on a wealth of experience with literally hundreds of tools owned by myself, my employees, and subcontractors. It boils down to reliable and versatile tools. The must-haves include: Hitachi angle grinder, Porter Cable Orbital Sander, Fein Multi-master, Dremel, Makita 14.4-volt drill driver, Makita 9.6-volt angle drill, and an 18-volt Milwaukee reciprocating saw.

Gripping Hitches for Loaded Lines

Testers evaluated five different knots to determine which would be the ideal for holding a tensioned line. Testers considered ease of tying and untying, ease of learning and recall, and holding power with various types of line. The old standard rolling hitch was pitted against the modified rolling hitch, icicle hitch, gripper hitch, and sailors hitch.

LED Flashlights: Tektite Expedition Best Value

Of 18 models tested, we like the Tektite Expedition.

Marine Weather Forecasting

Over the last few decades, theres been exponential growth in the availability of accurate weather forecasts and the net result is safer voyaging. Government spending on weather data gathering and forecast development has soared. Satellites and data buoys have filled in some of the oceanic gaps caused by an absence of weather balloon sampling at sea. State of the art, algorithm-driven, model data and ensemble-based forecasting have turned electronic guesswork into a better understanding of atmospheric volatility. The net result is an increase in the validity and reliability of marine forecasts and a trend that has stretched 24-hour forecast accuracy into 48- and 96-hour time frames. So, if anything deserves the label don't leave homeport without it, it is todays, better than ever, marine weather forecast.

Emergency Rigging Cutters

The new Toolova Shootit 12 is a no-brainer at the high end-it cuts wire and rod almost like butter. At the low end, the old hacksaw does pretty well, too.

Chandlery: August 2011

Practical Sailor Chandlery: August 2011. This month reviews a tiller, tool toter, and smart-phones.

Next Best Thing

While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.

The Search for Reliable Hands-free Onboard Communication Systems

Being able to communicate with a hands-free communication device along the length of the deck allows crew to coordinate activities like anchoring, docking, and going up the mast. Practical Sailor testers experimented with two systems: Motorola SX800R two-way radios and Nautic Devices Yapalong 3000. Both the Motorola and the Yapalong comprise a cell-phone-sized transmitter/radio unit and a separate handset. We tested them during anchoring, masthead repairs, and docking. The products were used with their mated headsets in various weather and sea conditions, including light rain and spray. The Motorola unit also was tested with a compatible Fire Fox Sportsman Throat Mic.

Build Your Own Boot Dryer

The advantage of a home-built boot dryer is that you can make it fit any number of boots and gloves, and add extensions for drying foul weather gear, options that are not available on the retail market