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.
- A Multibits 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.
Have fun sailing !