I'm Aurélien Poncin, a 31 years old French entrepreneur in the yachting industry passionate about design and design thinking. I founded Aureus Yachts back in April 2010 to run a sailing 50 footer project, aimed at hedonists. The company gathers around 50 talents to create a new reference for luxury sailing, focused on sensations rather than traditional codes. We build each year 10 to 15 boats (Catana 42 and Aureus XV) in our factory, near La Rochelle.
It is a great collection of yachtswomen and yachtsmen’s usually rather embarrassing misadventures…and just for that, it’s a guilty pleasure to read it, a real treat.
You’ll read about night encounters, bad crew experiences, a wide variety of (often avoidable) failures, maneuvering of course, and generally poor choices facing unexpected events. Isn’t it what learning to sail is about ?
Obviously, it’s funny to read about others humiliating moments, and the guilt is totally manageable since we all had such moments, especially on a sailing yacht. But there is more to this original sailing book. It’s a good way to extend your knowledge about sailing, living onboard, living with crew members, etc.
Who said learning to sail had to be fair ?
The book offers a good alternative to technical guides and I’m sure there are very few sailors that would not enjoy such a reading. It was published originally in 2000 and seeing the positive returns, the editor since reedited it (in 2009) and published a second opus : “Further Confessions“. I have not read this one but will do on my next cruise for sure.
The publishing was made possible by the collection of 25 years of readers testimony in the columns of the magazine Yachting Monthly.
So thank you Yachting Monthly for sharing and publishing, and thanks to those who shared their not so glorious experiences. I really had a good time and will read the following ones.
I hope you’ll enjoy it as well…learning how not to sail proves to be a lot of fun too.
If you sail offshore on a regular basis, you know staying awake during the night watches, especially the quiet ones, can get tricky sometimes. I wanted to share with you the solution I found to make those watches easier: Listening to audiobooks !
With Audible, a branch of Amazon, it’s never been easier to find great books to listen to.
There are a lot of books available, for instance, on sailing voyage, which can help you gather experience and tricks, but there are also most of the bestsellers in fiction and non-fiction among the 200.000+ titles that are on the audible audiobooks catalog.
Audible offers a membership plan that will allow you to purchase an audiobook per month for only 7,99£ (or 14,95$ for the US and 9,90€ for the Euro zone). A typical book is between 8 and 20 hours of listening, so it will give you a good occupation for a few watches in a raw.
Best of all, Audible offers you a free (really free, with no tricks) trial for your first Audiobook !
All you have to do is subscribe to a monthly membership on Audible and the first month, i.e audiobook, will be free (not charged on your payment card). If for some reason you are not happy with the experience, you can at any time cancel your membership with 2 clicks, and you won’t be charged for any additional month.
The whole process to get your membership will only take 5 minutes (less if you are already an Amazon customer). After that, the best way is to download the audible app on your smartphone or tablet (IOS or Android) and you can start listening.
Here is a list of great books about sailing and offshore navigation to start with:
And a recommendation for a really excellent book:
If you have troubles staying awake or simply need something to make the watch time a little more exciting, I really think audiobooks will help you.
I had a few occasions to see the pleasure that triggers a good espresso delivered to a tired crew member in the middle of his watch. It’s like bringing chocolate eggs to a hungry kid !
Yet most of the yachtswomen and yachtsmen I meet have no way of doing an espresso on their boat. “I don’t have AC current”, or “an Espresso machine consumes too much” or “where would I put the machine, how do I fasten it ? It would be too complicated”.
That’s when I usually become an evangelist for Handpresso. “Guys, don’t you know Handpresso ?”, “It’s fantastic ! all you need is 2 arms, hot water and standard ground coffee or E.S.E pods, and you have your Espresso”. “No electricity required, no space required”. “See, we could be drinking an espresso right, instead of this !”.
After years of being that evangelist, I had a discussion last week about coffee on board with a friend, on his terrific Sangria, and he dared to tell me he knew nothing about Handpresso, “I don’t have 220V onboard, we’re on a Sangria, not the Aureus XV, how would I prepare you an espresso”. I know…it sounds like disguised self congratulation for building a yacht equipped in standard version with a Nespresso machine, but to be fair, the Sangria is a fantastic sailing yachts, only 7,62 meters, with a lot of love to give…and, I believe, the most sold sailing boat in the history of yacht building.
Anyway, my own buddy did not know about Handpresso…I had been a poor evangelist.
That’s it ! Now I feel compelled to say it again, this time on a blog post, shared on Facebook, to any sailing enthusiast that also happens to be an espresso enthusiast (not fake espresso): Handpresso is a must have on Board !
The image above shows a set that includes includes 4 unbreakable cups and an Handpresso Thermos Flask. This innovative has an integrated thermometer so you can always be sure the water is hot enough for your espresso. That way, you fill it with very hot water and can enjoy espresso all morning.
Now, check it out and please never tell me again “I can’t do an espresso”, just because we’re on a sailing yachts.
This makes the handpresso Wild Hybrid Outdoor set the ultimate gift for a sailing or hiking enthusiast !
Here is a 2 minutes video showing you how easy it is o make a good espresso on board with a Handpresso.
We’ve made a lot of sea trials on the Aureus XV since its launch in June 2013. More than 10.000 nautical miles for the first year, and much more to come.
Those tests, in all types of conditions have also been the occasion to test a lot of gears and tools, that we wanted to integrate on the boat to make her a really easy boat to sail with, to maintain and to live aboard. We’ve tested a lot, and a few appeared to be really indispensable once you know what they can do to improve your sailing experience. In that way, they also make great gifts for sailors, so think about that next Christmas if you’re having a hard time figuring out what to offer to your sailing enthusiast uncle. Those tools for sailors, or boat owners do not all look like the typical gift type, but they’ll make, at some point, a happy sailor or boat owner.
Of course the basic tools one finds on pretty much every boat are important, but I’d like to share with you the non obvious tools we’ve found to be extremely helpful for offshore sailors, and yet usually not part of their toolbox. Even if it’s not on the list, I assume all sailors have a multimeter, a set of Allen keys, and a basic set of tools (a hammer, a dead blow hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc?).
Also, I voluntarily don’t feature any Leatherman in the list, as it is really the basic tool for any outdoor enthusiast, including sailors. A Leatherman is “The” tool any sailor should have, and from what I see most do. Also it would have been difficult to choose which one to feature in this “potential gifts for sailors” list.
If you are looking for a gift idea for a sailor, check first if he has a Leatherman. I use the very simple Leathermans Freestyle(sharp knife and a good plier) or Skeletool cx (knife, screwdriver, plier). They are very easy to wear on the belt and the most compact of the Leatherman range. Leatherman Wave or Surge are excellent alternatives for sailors. They are heavier but have more tools.
This being said, here are, in my mind, the top 10 unconventional (read very rarely included in the typical toolbox) tools and gears to have on a sailing yacht which has an offshore sailing program. Most of those tools will do great gifts for sailors, in a reasonable price range. If you are looking for (small) gifts ideas for a sailor friend or relative, I hope those ideas will help.
Top 10 (unconventional) tools to have on board:
The room in a sailboat has to be optimized by architects and builders.
Lots of technical gears and equipment have to fit while sparing a constantly increasing room for living. It means builders try to limit the technical space by optimizing the space. There is very little space between technical hardware, it gets crowded under the floor panels, and cluttered technical accesses make diagnostics, maintenance and repairs harder.
A lot of the sailor’s efficiency will come from having the appropriate tools to cope with tough accessibility constraints:
A Claw Pickup tool and a Magnetic Retrieval tool. Very often, the boat owner is confronted to the impossibility to fit his hand where he should. Catch back the bits, screws, coins and other stuffs that fall between the water tank and the boat’s structure, or in any other tiny space. This Claw pick-up tool is very helpful every time some stuff decides to fall in an inaccessible space of the boat (between the hull and a tank, or between two batteries). It makes a real difference when you have it and might allow you not to go crazy trying to catch that piece that went right under your engine block ! Not expensive tools, but indispensable ones. I agree it doesn’t look like a gift, but it makes anyhow a great gift idea for a sailor.
A Telescopic lighted Inspection mirror… Yes, sometimes the problem is you can’t even see what you have to do or what you are doing. With this tool you’ll reach and enlighten most of the previously inaccessible spaces.
AMultibits Ratchet Stubby Set ! And when you find the screw to unscrew, you can’t fit the screwdriver… Hence the Multibits Ratchet Stubby Set ! Every sailor has a set of screwdrivers on his or her boat’s tool box, but too often it misses a Stubby screwdriver. This compact ratchet screwdriver is immensely helpful when you’ll have to unscrew stuffs in very little place. The Stanley Ratchet Stubby Set is a good product, it comes with 15 bits and will resist heavy uses in tough conditions (salty environment).
Sometimes electrical wires fails and short circuits happens. Sometimes you want to install a new device and not spend the afternoon wiring it:
Wago terminal connectors 5 ways block: If some wiring fails, and it happens on any boat at some point, Wago compact terminal connectors are an perfect solution, the most efficient and fast way to do it, at least in a hurry. They are very easy to use and apply a great pressure on the wire. They are also very useful to add equipments on in an existing installation. A thoughtful sailor needs Wago, period ! They are fast, safe and easy. You can do junctions, additions, repairs in a blink. Here is a great video, from the “ultimate handyman”, showing the benefits of those incredible connectors.
An Automatic wire Stripper is a fantastic addition to the basic toolbox. It will allow the boat owner to do a better job, a faster job at stripping wires. An automatic wire stripper reduces the risk of cutting the conductors, thus improving the quality of the wiring. It also reduces the risks of injury. Here is a video I found on youtube showing how to use an automatic wire stripper, you’ll see how easy it is.
Most of the time, sailors care too little pluming inventory. I know you can’t bring all sizes of hoses, seacocks and valves, but here is one thing you can easily have on board, that will solve a lot of problems:
Self Amalgamating Tape. It’s the fastest and easiest way to fix a leaking hose or connection. Self-amalgamating tape is a non-tacky silicone-rubber tape which when stretched and wrapped around cables, electrical joints, hoses and pipes combines or unites itself into a strong, seamless, rubbery, waterproof, and electrically insulating laye (source of this description: Wikipedia). Basically, if there is a leak, try this first !
On a boat, things have a tendency to fly if you let them unattached, and when they fly, they breaks !
Dual Lock Tape, from 3M, is a great way to fix light and medium weight objects to flat surfaces. This velcro tape is an excellent way to prevent tools, boxes and accessories from flying over the saloon in a rough sea. Check out this video to realize how helpful it can be for any boat owner. “Loose the screw” as they says.
Sugru is a really amazing product, really ! Among the best tools to fix and repair. Sugru allows you to do amazing things in a lot of domains . What the F…. is Sugru ? you might ask:
Though of course the boat owners will be more interested in the fixing aspect of Sugru, there is a lot one can do with this remarkable innovation.
Having a set of two “One Handed Clamps“, or “Quick-Jaw Clamps” is a great help, as sometimes you will need to keep heavy things in place, in contact, or apart at a minimum distance, while repairing. Those Wolfcraft One Handed Clamps are good to have on a sailboat for they are both light, quite strong, and remain very easy to use.
Finally, I could not make any list of tools without emphasizing the fact that there are tools and “Tools”.
I’m sure any boat owner has on-board a set of spanners, but the reference has now changed, since the introduction of the flex ratcheting spanners. With those incredibly awesome spanners, you do the job quickly, even when accessibility to the bolt is terrible. This FACOM Metrix Flex Ratcheting Spanner Set is the best addition I’ve made to my toolbox this year and I strongly recommend it. it’s terribly good, easy to store and a pleasure to use. A must have for any handyman sailor, admire the mechanic !
I’m confident any of those tools will make a welcome addition to any boat owner’s toolbox, and will make great gifts for sailors !
And since you might read this article as the result for a google search for “Gifts for sailors”, I’ll conclude this article by reminding you of the Handpresso, a.k.a the perfect gift for a sailor that likes espresso.
The Handpresso is a wonderful device that allows you to make proper good espressos without electricity. All you need is hot water and two hands to pump. The pumping will provide the proper pressure to make a real espresso. This really makes it an excellent gift, a sure hit, for sailors and any outdoor enthusiast for that matter…providing they love espresso.
I recently read the audi version, audiobook via audible, of “Love with a chance of drowning”, or the story of a young Australian women, the author Torre DeRoche, who falls in love, in the US, with an Argentinean guy, Ivan, passionate with sailing.
When the latter decides to go for a circumnavigation on his relatively small, and not brand new, sailboat, Torre decides to go with him, despite her fear of water and attachment to comfort (she’s a real city girl).
This book is funny, romantic and instructive for any wannabe circumnavigator. We plunge into there life, during the trip from California to Australia, via Polynesia. A lot of funny anecdotes, interesting descriptions of stopovers in the Pacific.
It’s also an occasion to confirm that whatever you do on a boat, expect some gear failures !
I recommend “Love with a chance of drowning” for those who love offshore sailing and voyage. I think it’s especially good for women, as a lot of them might recognize themselves in this girl trying so hard to understand and appreciate her (latin) lovers’s passion.
The book is available on Amazon in paper, CD MP3 or downloadable audiobook (11h30 of fun, with a nice female voice). You can download a sample (a few minutes of the book) on this page, but I guaranty you’ll have fun listening to or reading this book.
This allow you to connect your smartphone, via wifi, to the device to sent text messages, regular tracking positions, and SOS messages.
The beauty of this device is it makes it accessible for most of the sailors to get a constant link with home. It costs only 215€ (178£) to purchase and the monthly fees goes from 25$ to 65$ if you don’t want any annual contract (just a month).
For instance, you can purchase a one month plan for 65$ with unlimited text messages, SOS messages and tracking (your folks can follow you on an internet page that will update your position every 10 minutes.) It has of course a global coverage.
I tested it and must admit it’s a great work, that I strongly recommend to those who can’t offer a full satellite system or don’t want to be trapped with annual communication plans (contract).