Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies

Stocking Stuffers for Your Nauti One

PS Advisor: Harness Crotch Straps

During our testing a of a harness without a crotch strap, the harness did ride up on the victim, but there was no tendency for the wearer to slip out. If the waist strap is tighter than the wearers shoulder width, its not possible for him to slip out. This answer begs the question: What about people whose tummy is wider than their shoulders? Harness waist belts should be worn as taut as is comfortable. If that practice is followed, then crotch straps should not be needed.

Green and Clean: Multitasking Shower Kit

With labeling that advertises "Simple is better" and "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without," J.R. Liggetts products appear to be made for sailors. And what boat owner doesn't love multifunction stuff? J.R. Liggetts products take multitasking to a whole new level: The soap bars can be used for shaving and washing your body, hair, or laundry. The companys Natural Traveler Kit includes the handmade, all-in-one shampoo/soap bar, a recycled-plastic travel case with drain hole and shower hook, and a camp-style face cloth. Testers liked the convenience of the traveling case, which holds one soap and the face cloth. We used it for all advertised purposes and found that it works well as a soap and laundry wash. It rinsed away with little water, but did not lather in salt water. One 3.5-ounce bar equals 24 ounces of liquid shampoo, according to the maker.

For the Wooden Boat Buff

All year long, wooden boat worshippers can drool over pin-ups of the worlds classic beauties, thanks to two calendars that spotlight these works of art (and elbow grease). The Wooden Boat Festivals 2008 calendar, by Gumbo Publishing, chronicles the annual Port Townsend, Wash., event of the same name. With photographs by well-known photographer Mitchel Osborne, the calendar offers a glimpse into the world of wooden boat groupies. Photos of schooners under way dominate the pages, but Osborne also captured the details that make wooden boats what they are. From cane-backed seats and impeccable varnish to tan-bark sails and a busty figurehead, the photos tell the unique stories of the boats that make the Wooden Boat Festival an annual homecoming for people from around the world.

Lights On for Practical Sailor Headlamp Round Up

Headlamps compliment rather than compete with traditional hand-held flashlights. Lighting of more than one kind is invaluable on board, and headlamps have the advantage of freeing up the two hands of the sailor who always seems to need a third. Our test focused on LED headlamps that claimed water resistance and featured a crosshead strap for comfort, and did not require a battery recharge. We tested 17 headlamps from six manufacturers: Icon from Black Diamond, a rock-climbing and skiing gear maker; the HeadsUp Recoil 2680 from Pelican, maker of all things watertight; and Vizion from Underwater Kinetics, along with four headlamps from Petzl, five from Princeton Tec, and five from Streamlights. Our top picks were based on wearing, testing and using these headlamps for months. Best Choice honors go to the Black Diamond Icon, a lightweight lamp thats versatile and loaded with features. Recommended products include the feature-laden red-filter-equipped Petzl Tactikka and the lightweight, Lithium-powered Streamlight Argo HP. The Pelican outshone others on pure brightness.

Gifts for Sailing Parents

With Mothers Day and Fathers Day looming, we dug through our Chandlery items to find things that would make good gifts for sailing moms and dads. Landlubbers got it easy: Dad gets a new shirt and tie; Mom gets flowers (no carnations!). But thats not fitting for our nautical moms and dads. Unless their gift has some practical onboard use, it will shortly find its way to the senior-center flea market. Most of these gifts would be well received by either Mom or Dad, but if you end up missing the mark, you can always reclaim the gift and use it for your own offshore adventures.

Lather, Rinse, and Repeat

Testers looked at how well the soaps lathered in limited amounts of water; how easily they rinsed off; and how clean and dry the skin was after washing. Four testers—with varying skin and hair types—used each soap in fresh water and salt water. The body wipe test products were used according to manufacturer directions. Testers also shampooed their hair with the soaps marketed as multi-purpose products (hair and body) in fresh and salt water.

Marine Dock Carts Field Test 2007

The three hand trucks-Roleez Folding-Wheel, Sea Bowld, and Dock Dolly-were nearly identical, with telescoping handles and flip-up bases. The four others-the Roleez Sports Caddy, Pack N Roll, Wonder Wheeler, and the Foldit-ran the gamut from a very compact, crate-style cart (Pack N Roll) to the large, workhorse Foldit dock cart. Testers considered each rolling carts performance on and off the dock. They also loaded onto the carts items that are often carried to and from the boat-a 12-volt battery, cooler filled with food, and a duffel bag of clothes. Testers also noted how easily each was stowed and how much room it took up.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.