Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies


Its that time of year again: Time to hunt down those last-minute gifts for the boaties in our lives. And because many sailors wish lists come with hefty price tags, PS editors decided to put together a roundup of less expensive goodies well-suited for stuffing stockings. We scoured the booths at recent boat shows and came up with the following:

Sea Fever Gear

From baby bibs, blankets, and shower curtains to decked-out jeans, bags, and vests, Sea Fever Gear turns old sails into the most practical or stylish items. The brainchild of Penny and Pixie Haughwout, Sea Fever was born when the sisterly duo found themselves unable to throw away old sails that held many memories of their childhood sailing adventures. They decided instead to make them into mementos. Ten years later, they still work out of their living rooms, but now they offer a wide selection of unique products. PS editors favorites are the shower curtains (complete with port-holes), fleece-lined scarves, and the lightweight, colorful Nauti-Nities. Prices vary, starting at $1.

Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies

Calendars and Cards
One perennial favorite nautical photographer among the calendar and card crowd is Onne van der Wal. The Dutch-born Rhode Island resident has been in the business for 20 years. A seasoned yacht racer who has won numerous awards for his photos, van der Wal captures the spirit of sailing through unique angles and lighting. His products for next year include the 2007 nautical wall calendar ($16) and the Classic Sailboats note cards ($15) pictured here.

Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies

Another boating photographer known for his classic shots is Benjamin Mendlowitz. Celebrating its 25th edition, The Calendar of Wooden Boats by NOAH Publications, with art by Mendlowitz, includes photos of such beauties as a Buzzards Bay 15 and a 95-foot Fife cutter. The anniversary calendar includes a pullout of all 25 calendar covers. ($15)

Key Buoy
For the gadget guru in your life or the captain who seems to always lose things over-board heres a gag gift that he might actually get some use out of: the Davis Key Buoy ($7), a PFD for your keys. When the key chain hits the water, it opens up, automatically releasing a self-inflating tube that floats up, bringing your keys back to the surface within 30 seconds. The 14-inch, bright orange float extends well above the water for easy retrieval.

Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies

We just had to test this. Davis claims the float can support 4.2 ounces for at least 40 minutes, so testers attached a 4-ounce lead sinker to the keychain and tossed it overboard. As advertised, the unit rose to the surface in 24 seconds and was easily seen and recovered. The Key Buoy is a one-shot deal, so its not the most economical way to keep track of your keys, but it is small (1.1 ounce and is the size of a standard car alarm key fob). 

Shackle Dog

Gadgets, Gear, and Goodies

The Shackle Dog is a multi-tool of a different nature. It can be used to do up or undo shackles, open deck plates, and most importantly, it can pop open any cold beverage of your choice. The anodized aluminum (or carbon fiber) puppy A Sailors Best Friend can fit on a keychain, in a pocket, or on a lanyard. At $8, its a great gift for your crew. (The more you buy, the cheaper they are.) And you can even have them engraved upon request. 






Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here