Okay, I'm going to get a little early in the season and give you a few gift ideas for your boating buddies. And boat owners, if you're reading this, you might highlight the items of particular interest and leave the column "lying around" where it just might be found by Santa . . .
Sail boaters have known about "cam cleats" for years, and they use them to secure lines, but only a few power boaters use them. What for: to secure fenders easily! They aren't cheap, around $16 each, but they really do make life simpler for mates, allowing easy fendering of the vessel. You'll need one for each fender position you normally use, so on boats up to 25', get four; to 36, get six, and 42' and up, get eight. I added them to my boat last spring, and my mate loves them, as did my summer charterers. And if you use Davis, Polyform, or Taylor fenders, look into the Davis "Fenda Reels". LFS will order them for you; they store the line for the fender neatly and compactly.
A great stocking present is only around $3: a can of "Barkeeper's Friend" or "Zud", either available in the cleanser section of any big market. These products make rust removal a breeze. By the way, old toothbrushes are the perfect implement; if cheap enough, new ones will work, too.
One year Judy gave me a case of paper towels! They were actually shop towels, and I've used that supply for several years. A neat, useful present to go with the towel roll holder in the engine compartment. Not expensive, either!
Another little item that has been a Godsend is one of the kneeling pads that is sold in garden shops. It's a great preventer of the dreaded "bilge-board knee".
Hardware is really hard to store on a boat, so I like having a couple of the "organizer" trays. I have one for screws, one for bolts, and one for electrical connectors. The best kind has spring-loaded, hinged lids on its eight compartments, sold by The Woodworkers' Store (800-279-4441) as their number 32144, $14.95 each plus shipping. They stack and nest compactly.
Christmas is a great time for the bigger presents a skipper won't buy for himself. These would include binoculars, and though the better ones cost more, the inexpensive Tascos that sell in the under-$100 range are still pretty good. If you can afford it, get the better ones at $250 or more: the difference is significant. As for me, I'd skip those with a compass, light, etc., and spend it on the optics themselves. 7 x 50 is the boater's size.
I've plugged the locally-made Conex TideFinder before: although it's expensive, it sure is great to have! Every charterer exclaimed how nice it was to have one on our boat, and I'm amazed at how few locals know they're made here in Bellingham. They're sold by both Radar Mariner Electronics and San Juan Electronics, for instance.
And finally, this is the year to buy a GPS, if you don't already have one. Look them over and make a choice: you can buy handhelds for amazingly low prices!
If all else fails, and you've hit the lottery, a new boat would be perfect! For power, why not a Sabreline 43 Motoryacht from Bellingham Yacht Sales or a Grand Banks 42 Classic (really 43) from Grand Yachts Northwest (Intrepid)? They're around $500,000, loaded and classy. Or, for sailors, from Bellhaven Yachts, a 54' Steel Ketch Merlin's Magic (gorgeous) at $454,000, or from Performance Yacht Sales, a brand new Gozzard 36 sloop (magnificent joinery) for about $220,000, or from San Juan Sailing a used Hans Christian 38 cutter, Orioco, at only $98,000 (quality yet low cost)! For the sportboat set, from Hawley's, there's always the new, classic 13' Boston Whaler Dauntless, fully equipped, loaded, for $12,500, virtually unsinkable, or from Yeager's, a new Riviera Sport, 18' of sexy, eurostyled ski boat, for around $15,000 complete. All of them are local boats, and supported by the local dealers who support us.
Happy Holidays --- in advance. Next month, back to the safety issues.
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