We mentioned that while living the “5-year plan”, our gift-giving mentality changed significantly. We tried to provide ourselves with incentives to keep on track. Instead of clothes, jewelry and weekend getaways, we gave each other gifts that would hopefully be useful once we began our cruising life and would keep us inspired as we worked through the action items of our 5-year plan.
We learned to stay away from nautical-themed knick-knacks, gimmicks and anything that could corrode in a salt water environment. Anything that required A/C power was a no-no until we moved aboard and figured out what we'd need. We began to think in terms of a 12-volt boat environment. We concentrated on smaller items that wouldn’t require a hassle when we moved aboard.
If you’re thinking of a gift for someone dreaming of the cruising life or perhaps you’re trying to incentivize each other as you wend your way along the path to the sunset, check out this list for some practical suggestions.
Dry bags are very practical and usable gifts for on-board use. Keeping things dry, especially electronics, is important. We use our dry bags regularly when transporting gear from the boat to the dock in the dinghy.
2. Multi-tools are handy gadgets to have aboard. David's favorite brand is the Leatherman. He keeps one at his nav station, we keep one in our “heading to land” backpack, and we have another in the ditch bag. It doesn't have to be too complicated, but David prefers the Leatherman that has a regular blade, serrated blade and pliers. The toothpick is probably not necessary.
3. A rigger's knife is also a handy tool to have aboard. David's Wichard rigger's knife hangs from a lanyard on a hook on the wall next to the nav station, handy and ready to be grabbed in a jiffy. It was Christmas stocking stuffer back in Year 3 and survives today.
4. Gift certificates from a preferred chandler or on-line boating vendor are always appreciated. It might be fun to include a chandler's catalog along with the gift cert ... good dreaming/planning material. Don't know any chandlers? Try West Marine, Defender or Hamilton Marine.
5. If you're talking more expensive gifts, consider a brass barometer or ship's clock or a ship's bell. We consult our barometer and clock frequently. We use the bell in foggy weather. Make sure the brass and instruments are good quality because the sea is a harsh environment.
6. Brass/bronze hooks – for everything from potholders and measuring cups in the galley, to convenient to grab tools on lanyards, to clothes and towels. They're decorative, but very practical and come in a plethora of designs. We've got all sorts aboard … a whale's tail, fish, a claddagh, an anchor, a crescent moon. Make sure they're not cast iron nor a metal that will rust.
7. Gift certificates from Amazon for electronic books and gear. There are so many books, boat supplies and pieces of equipment available on Amazon, a gift certificate allows your favorite cruisers to choose whatever they need or want.
In the book category, how-to books on boat systems, sailing, rigging, marlinspike seamanship and sail trim were high on the list. Nigel Calder and Don Casey were two of David’s go-to favorites and don’t forget Ashley’s Book of Knots.
8. CDs and DVDs are always welcome, although they require storage space. Better yet, how about an external USB-hard drive or large jump drive with favorite songs and movies already loaded?
9. Net hammocks are useful, take up little room and are great for storing freshies, easy-to-access snacks and all sorts of gear during a passage in otherwise unused space.
10. Speaking of freshies, “green bags” are welcome gifts, too. We use and reuse these bags, especially when we're on long passages.
11. Dive mask, snorkel & fins are great. They can be used during chartering excursions as well as on the boat later.
12. Last, but certainly not least, this simple sewing awl is great for hand-stitching canvas and sails especially in a pinch. They’re inexpensive and handy.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. If you're already a cruiser, what gifts do you most appreciate receiving and why? More suggestions?
Note: Every item mentioned above has been tried and used by the crew on Nine of Cups. If you purchase any items, not just these, through Amazon on this website, it will not cost you a cent more, but will add a few pennies to help support this website. Just sayin'...