From the pages of Practical Boat Owner magazine – our pick of the best Christmas gift ideas for the boat owner in your life
You can never have enough drybags and Zhik’s high quality kit always makes good gifts at Christmas or any other time. The new 30lt dry backpack is made from a heavy duty 100% waterproof fabric with welded seams. Features include an internal zipped pocket, padded laptop holder, and water bottle pouch. Extra compression straps will help to reduce bulk when the bag is only partially full and can double to secure jackets and the like on the outside.
Zhik has also launched a new 6lt high vis dry bag. Again this is 100% waterproof with taped seams and is supplied with its own pouch for easy stowage when not in use.
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Scanstrut Nest – Tidy charger
Tired of the tangle of wires and multiple phones and all too frequently clutter nav stations and other work surfaces on board? This Scanstrut Nest is a neat pocket with a built-in wireless charger in which to keep the phone when it’s not being used. It’s designed for easy integration into voids within consoles and cabinets, behind seating and so on. A grippy mat stops the phone moving around inside the pocket, while the front lip acts as a further physical barrier to help keep it in place.
CleanToGleam canopy cleaner
Why not give your boat a little Christmas cheer? Canvaswork such as sail covers and sprayhoods can really suffer over the winter, especially during long periods of damp weather. CleanToGleam has launched a pair of products for cleaning and protecting canopies that are free of harsh, caustic ingredients. The Canopy Cleaner removes dirt, mildew and grease after first dampening with a fine mist spray. The Canopy Protector, which is applied after cleaning, is a non-greasy liquid that repels dirt and moisture, thereby inhibiting further growth of mould and mildew.
RRP: £18 for 1lt bottle.
Inesis 900 Laser Rangefinder
Designed for golfers, this is equally useful on any cruising boat that encounters crowded anchorages. Even the most experienced skipper can struggle to judge distances accurately enough to identify a safe spot to anchor between other vessels – the deck of a boat simply isn’t a good vantage point for this.
A decent laser rangefinder solves this problem – when preparing to anchor you can figure out exactly the distance to other boats. Equally if another vessel anchors close to you it can be used to figure out if there’s safe swinging space for both vessels. Maximum range of this unit is a whopping 1,200m.
Digital Yacht NMEA-Wifi link: NavLink 2 & WLN10-Smart
Many useful smartphone and tablet apps require data such as depth, boat speed, AIS targets, wind info and GPS from the boat’s instrument systems to deliver their full functionality. Digital yacht has two devices that will transmit this data by wifi . The NavLink 2 is suitable for vessels with an NMEA 2000 network, while the older WLN10-Smart will work for older NMEA 0183 systems. The company is offering readers a 20% pre-Christmas discount on these items using the code AAPYXMAS.
RRP: WLN10-Smart – £150. Navlink 2 – £210.
Spot Gen4 – low cost satellite tracker
This device completes a trio of relatively low cost Spot satellite tracking and messaging devices. The Spot Gen4 fits between the basic Spot Tracker, which only pings a position to your phone or email, and the Spot X that allows two-way email and SMS text messaging of up to around 500 characters. The Spot Gen4 allows your friends and family to track your location. In addition, you can pre-programme short custom text messages to indicate whether you’re OK or in need of a specific type of help.
There’s also an SOS function that sends an alert to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, which in turn can raise the alarm with the relevant coastguard agency. The unit uses the Globalstar satellite network which now includes almost all of the Americas (apart from the very southern extremities of Chile), the north Atlantic ocean, plus all of Europe, the Med and north Africa.
Yachts on passage across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean will, however, pass through a band with only fringe coverage.
RRP: £150 + service plans from £10.80 per month.
Velocitek Prostart update
Competitive sailors in the family will love the second generation of the Prostart. The original quickly became the go to device for judging the approach to a race start line, gaining wide acceptance at the top end of fleets that allow such electronics, ranging from dinghy classes to large offshore racers.
Velocitek recently revealed the second generation device. Basic functionality remains the same, as does the user interface and the mast bracket. However, a huge number of small changes improve accuracy and give a better user experience. A higher speed internal 18Hz GPS unit measures distance to the line more accurately and without lag.
There’s also a new magnetic compass that gives better accuracy and maintains calibration across a wide temperature range. Data logging is now four times a second and includes heel, plus fore-and-aft pitch angle. Additional features include a bar graph showing heel angle and the bearing square to the line, making it easy to see bias.
For the new device Velocitek has moved production into its own facility at San Mateo in Silicon Valley. Each unit leaves the factory fully calibrated.
Helly Hansen – Arctic Ocean Parka
Helly Hansen designed this for sailing in the harshest conditions and it’s perfect for winter days afloat. It has a waterproof outer layer, a breathable inner fabric, plus an insulating layer made of a high loft and quick drying recycled polyester material. Taped seams, a double storm flap and watertight cuffs are provided to keep the water out.
RRP: £500 / $700
Gill Penryn Hybrid Jacket – Mid layer warmth
Gill’s new Penryn Hybrid Jacket is super lightweight and made from a four-way stretch fabric with a soft brushed interior. A down-like synthetic insulation is used, which provides excellent warmth and can be packed tightly for easy travel. It’s available in both men’s and women’s fits.