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This year has been strange, and probably some important dates slipped our mind: a year in which the track of time, of seasons and celebrations was overshadowed by the great blanket that surrounded our lives in the past months. 

Nevertheless, it is Christmas time, and right on time shows up the «what will I get him? », «What may she like? » dilemma, and a whole series of existential questions from whose answers and following actions depends our life’s serenity in the next few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong: I have no intention of rolling out dozens of advices for presents to give your wife/husband, your auntie who comes to visit at Christmas (oh right, this year it won’t happen), or to your boss who’s retiring at the end of the year. For those ideas you might as well look elsewhere and you will certainly have better luck.

We are talking, instead, of present’s idea for those who, like me who’s writing and like you who are so kind to read my articles, have a visceral passion for sailing and a fanatical interest in tools and gadgets useful when needed.

In most cases, looking for a present for these special occasions it’s a quite frustrating activity, and looking for a present for a sailor is no exception (whether he’s just a practitioner or a shipowner). This is what this article is meant to: some idea caught here and there and most importantly pondered from a certain knowledge of a sailor and navigator’s needs.  

I obviously couldn’t help myself from looking at the catalogue of the company that publishes this blog, considering that Osculati boasts one of the widest repertoires of products in Europe, not without reason considered a true lighthouse for boaters.

All right, let’s venture then and – without a given order or classification – and come out with some brilliant ideas to satisfy a sailor.

The sailor’s knife

A true classic and evergreen present idea; many of them are produced in infinite materials and prices. A good knife must always be present in a sailor equipment. Useful in case of emergency to release quickly a rope, to cut a fishing net, a bag, a fishing line from the propeller, or to simply do small jobs without using the toolbox. The great Leatherman with its many possible uses is the first one that comes to mind and the most “scenic” but, let’s say it, the classic knife which is used to cut something is the best tool ever. Mine only has the blade, the awl accessory and the shackle-opener.

A good bottle of Whiskey

In the 18th century the British Navy integrated a whisky ration in the sailors’ payroll.  This custom was interrupted only in 1970, with many controversy. What other hard liquor can boast such a maritime origin? Only rhum could rival with the typical British drink. In my opinion it is a greatly appreciated gift.

The boat hammock

This is obviously a present thought for a shipowner. I think that it has no particular need to comment: just imagine being at anchor in a nice sunny and breezy afternoon, with your favourite music in your ears and maybe drinking a nice cold beer…no need to add anything else. You can find many online of different materials and features; usually they are made of polyester, and in the package the ropes for the anchoring mast-forestay-boom-stern pulpit are included. They often come with a bag for objects.

Headlamp

A not very popular accessory but very useful, the headlamp usually has a very high brightness suitable for depth vision. The ideal headlamp has combined beam (with intermittence) and it includes a red light, which allows seeing in the dark and prevents other people from going blind. It’s an item you can buy with a few tens of euros, but I can assure you that – just like a good knife – it is essential for a sailor’s bag.

Waterproof bag

Speaking of bags: in addition to my “main” bag, which is a bag of considerable size (I’ve talked about it long ago), I’m used to take on board a “daily” bag too, which allows me to take with me a dry sweatshirt, the phone, keys and other “goods”. In sailing days this bag is often the only one I take on board, leaving the bigger one in the trunk of the car. In my opinion, this bag must be watertight, so that the items inside won’t suffer for the rain, splashes of water or accidental falls in the water (don’t laugh about it, I have seen a lot of them falling in the water, especially in port). My bag is made of a very light TPO fabric and it has a valve that expels the extra air. It has a capacity of 20 litres and it is equipped with shoulder straps “backpack” alike. Very comfortable.

The competitive sailor’s watch

Let’s enter a world made of items of style, aesthetics, functionality and with a price range that goes from a few dozen to several thousand euros. For me, the parameter that should be the most valued of all is the functionality one. If we’re practical, we can say that a competitive sailor needs a watch that indicates the time and has the countdown function for the starts. That’s it. Obviously, the most sophisticated models are not to disdain, since they allow to check the “good” side of the starting line and to determine the best windward leg (decades ago existed a wonderful watch designed and produced by Paul Elvström), but, if I can be honest, with my 19,90 € watch I don’t miss a start.

Electric scooter

Well, we’re now talking about demanding stuff, and this is a present mainly intended for a shipowner. Electrical scooters, also known as motorized scooters, are becoming more and more popular. Just like e-skates, the nature of this type of product deeply evolved in the past few years. Indeed, it went from a tool designed for play and sporty purposes, to a real green means of transport.  On boat – for obvious volume reasons – we will pick a folding model and, investing a few hundred euros, we will be able to give a true micro-mobility cult item. And if you can imagine a more entertaining vehicle to use as a land dinghy, bring it on.

A yachting magazine subscription

An evergreen and – I would add – always useful. There are a dozen of magazines dealing of marine and they do it in different style and form. We are only going to need to try and track the profile of our sailor friend and the game will be made: magazines that talk about technic and sailrace, navigation and pleasure; magazines more focused on the description and test of new models and other on the do-it-yourself maintenance. There is really plenty of choice and we can also range in the international scene. Besides, the majority of magazines (at least as far as I know) includes the digital subscription, which makes delivery and fruition easier. This too is a gift that, personally, I appreciate a lot.

Navionics and other apps

From the most classical and popular navigation aids (warning, don’t forget that aboard it is still mandatory to have the navigation area charts) to other dozens of apps meant to the mooring search, the weather app, anchor alarms and so on and so forth. An investment of a few tens of euros in an Apple Store or Google Play card, to offer the possibility to buy or subscribe to any app that our sailor friend will choose and download on his/her device.

Self-inflatable jacket

The prince of accessories, essential to whoever goes to sea and – I add – item to choose wisely and attentively, and very personal. On the market, you can find lots of models with variable prices. A good jacket is around 150-200 euros and it has a buoyancy of at least 150 N (as the current legislation requires). The umbilical cable connection, the signal light and the sprayhood, as for me, are vital.

Waxed, gloves, shoes and sailing clothing in general

This too can be an important gift, always appreciated but rather difficult to choose. Clothing is a very personal thing, is even more personal what we wear boating and very often is the result of years of trials, choices and customization. Just to give a personal example, even recognizing them as a useful accessory, I don’t like to wear boat boots of any type, in neither season or weather. You need to know very well the person that will use the clothing article. As an alternative, and for a much lower cost, you could opt for a pair of gloves (working, navigation or sailing ones), which will be certainly appreciated and more easy to guess.

By the way, I need to replace my sailing gloves…

Bearing compass

Useful accessory, and not necessarily dedicated to shipowners. It could easily belong to the “guest” sailor who’s willing to actively engage in managing the navigation. In this case too, we are talking about a quite limited price present, which I think might be pleasing to whom is not used to practise a quay sailboat. The compass in my pocket is a nice model meant to withstand impacts and float, and is worn around your neck. It can be used as a regular compass or as bearing compass, since it is provided with rear sights and double upper front reading.

Here, these are a few items that came to my mind and I think they can tickle the imagination of who gives and who receives them.

One last thought: we often think that give is a synonym of donate, but the two verbs, which are very similar, are actually not the same; a gift is something done, mostly, without giving too much weight to what you are buying. Sometimes one just gives something out of a sense of duty, as a formality, and in this case one buys things without thinking of the person who is going to receive them.

The act of donating, instead, encloses a whole different meaning, the one of giving in a deeper meaning, to offer something you thought about for so long, considering the taste and needs of who is going to receive it, without expecting anything in return. Let’s think about it.

Merry Christmas, see you at sea.

Renzo Crovo
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