Welcome to the 2017 Around ‘n Circles Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide. It’s that perfect idea list if you’re searching for something for that special sailor in your life. If you haven’t read our old “Favorite Things” post there are some things here in the Gift Guide that appeared there as well as a few more that we’ve fallen in love with since. There’s something in here for everyone from electronics to galley gadgets to fishing gear and even a toilet!!
Scosche Dual USB Charger 12v – $12
Let’s start off with a great stocking stuffer. Over the years we have had a few of these. The beauty is that if one of these goes bad you can simply replace it instead of having to take apart your nav station/electrical panel to replace the hardwired USB charger you installed. This plug hits the gift guide as one of the most taken for granted items on board. It’s always there, until it isn’t because it was borrowed for a rental car or moved to the plug at the helm station. It charges 2 phones easily and can even charge 2 tablets simultaneously without skipping a beat.
Bar Keepers Friend – $17
If you have a boat, you have to deal with rust. BKF has become one of the best things we found to take care of those pesky rust stains on fiberglass. It’s also super cost effective compared to some other options. But it’s more than that. We use it to clean all over and make stainless shine. Perfect for lifeline stanchions or dinghy davits, or even the dinghy itself! This makes the gift guide as another one of the most used items on board. We buy it by the six pack and always have some on hand when a stain pops up.
Luci Lights – $15
You just can’t beat these things. They are purely solar powered so you don’t have to worry about batteries. They produce enough light so you can see your food or the person sitting across from you in the cockpit. If you have a larger cockpit like on our catamaran you can get two and it is perfect for the evening. Let them charge in the sun during the day and you will have enough light for when those sundowners turn into late nighters!
Duraflex Flat Back 20q Bucket – $18
Yeah I know, you are saying I could buy 3 orange Homer buckets for that price! But let me tell you this thing is tough. It’s designed as a feed bucket for the farm. It will last you far longer than any of those Homer buckets will and the sun doesn’t make it brittle like those orange buckets that just end up fading and cracking all over the deck and in the ocean. This is a lifetime bucket! If you have a high freeboard like us, the flat back helps when you’re trying to pull up a bucket full of seawater to rinse off the deck. The bail is super thick stainless that doesn’t bend when lifting a full load of seawater.
Seattle Sports Paddlers Bilge Pump – $20
Originally designed for kayaks, this pump works great in the dinghy. It is a dual stroke which means that you’ll get that water out of your dink faster and be on your way. Definitely faster than the cut out water or milk jug dip & toss method!
Hydro Flask Stainless Steel True Pint – $25
You want something that not only looks cool but keeps your beer (or rum drink) really, really cold. This gem really surprised us at how well it kept our drinks cold. It’s a standard pint size so your favorite beverage should fit perfectly. It’s stainless so it won’t rust and if it falls off the salon table in rough seas it won’t break. Of course there’s also the Hydro Flask bottles ($29+) that we all carry around. My bottle is the larger 40 oz. Michelle and the boys use the smaller 20 oz versions that fit better in standard cup holders. These will probably be the last pints and bottles you’ll ever buy unless you lose them or just want a different color. They are that durable.
BottleKeeper – $27
If you’ve been on our boat you have likely seen us with a BottleKeeper in our hands. What began as a cute Christmas present has become a staple on Giro. This lets you take that glass beer bottle anywhere with you and keeps it cold. Yes, it really does work!
Presto 6 Quart Pressure Cooker – $27
If you live on a boat, you know propane is a limited resource. It’s a pain to get to shore with your tanks and in some places damn near impossible to find a place to refill them. So you conserve as much propane as possible. This beauty will do the trick. You can cook just about anything from a few pounds of pork shoulder roast for pulled pork to enough lentil soup that you can eat off of for days. We were quickly converted to the ways of the pressure cooker and love ours. (Want to really save on propane? Keep reading for the solar oven!)
Anker SoundCore – $30
We originally purchased one of these so that Z could listen to his music in his cabin. Its use has expanded to all sorts of things. We use it instead of the tv speaker when we have movie night. The boys use it when they are playing their video games. I’ve even used it to listen to Pandora while fishing in the dinghy. However, it’s not waterproof, and after one close call, that ended the music-filled fishing trips. It’s super easy to pair over bluetooth and has a crazy long battery life. Plus you can plug in a 3.5mm cord and connect that way if you have a device or music player that doesn’t have bluetooth. If like me, you need a waterproof portable speaker keep reading. There’s one below.
Metolius 3/4 Climbing Glove – $31-$36
It’s not a sailor’s gift guide without sailing stuff. But ok, now you’re saying to yourself that Matt has gone off the deep end. What do rock climbing gloves have to do with sailing? Well, as I learned from some sailors that I used to follow closely (Liv & Carol on s/v Estrelltia 5.10b who are no longer cruising ☹️) that these rock climbing gloves last far longer than your typical sailing gloves. While I love the Gill sailing gloves, mine starting showing serious wear a year into owning them. These should outlast even the most expensive marine brand.
Chapman Piloting & Seamanship – 68th Edition – $38
This is the long awaited update to the classic reference book that I’m sure many of you have seen. This updated 68th edition was just released in October. I had an older edition at one point but it has since disappeared (not sure when or where) and had considered replacing it with the 67th edition but knew if I held out long enough there would be an update. In October, voila, my wish was answered.
Sunbeam 5891 2 Pound Bread machine – $45
We love bread. We love fresh, hot, steaming bread fresh out of the bread machine, probably too much and our waistlines probably show it. Unless you’re close to St. Maarten or Martinique or one of those other awesome French islands where fresh bread is readily available this is something you need. If you have a decent size inverter you can run it off your house batteries without too much of a hit. We have a few go-to recipes for anything from a standard white country loaf to a whole wheat loaf and even an awesome pumpernickel rye recipe that will take your roast beef or pastrami to the next level of kick ass.
RavPower 26800mAh USB Battery pack – $50
If you don’t have charger outlets for your phone, iPad, GPS, or other USB powered device, this little baby will give you that freedom to roam around your boat, on shore, where ever you need to go. We carry this with us in our backpack when ever we’re on the move. It has plenty of juice to keep your phone topped up when you need it or when you can’t find a spot to charge. It’s big enough to power even the most demanding tablets too. Plug it in and let it sit over night and you’ll be ready to go tomorrow. This makes the gift guide as one of the most used items on the boat.
Anker 21w Dual USB Solar Charger – $60
As sailors we all cherish the power that our solar panels put out. This little beauty you can take with you to the beach, tie it to your backpack while you’re hiking to the grocery store, or just set it out on deck and let it keep your phone or tablet topped off while you’re sailing. It has two smart USB ports and with planty of sunlight can fully charge 2 phones in the same amount of time as the 12v port at your nav station.
Wonderboom Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker – $80
I mentioned my close call with our Anker Sound Core above. That prompted me to research and find the best waterproof bluetooth speaker I could. So here’s the Wonderboom. It’s super portable, has good battery life, and is waterproof. So you can have those music-filled fishing trips or head to the beach and not worry about whether or not you’re going to ruin your speaker with the sand and surf.
Kindle Paperwhite – $120
Of course you could toss out an extra Franklin & a half and get the waterproof Kindle but we’re sailors and a somewhat cheap lot. So this more economic version of the Kindle is perfect as long as you don’t try reading underwater. It helped me come to grips with getting rid of a ton of “real” books and there are so many free and inexpensive (read $0.99) great books out there. I have a ton of them queued up to read. I love my Kindle and both boys have their books on theirs (they are both ravenous readers).
Penn Senator Rod/Reel Combo – $130
The ancient Chinese proverb is absolutely true! Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you probably realize that we love fresh fish. The boys will eat their weight in sushi/sashimi. While Austin likes to keep score on who catches more fish, we all win in the end as we get to eat yummy stuff fresh from the ocean. Your local fish monger doesn’t even have it this fresh. This is one of the rod/reel combos we use and I love it.
Standard Horizon HX870 Floating 6w VHF Handheld Radio – $200
If you are looking to give yourself a new handheld VHF for Christmas and don’t know which one to get…this is the one. When we sold OG and bought new Giro we left our old handheld VHF and needed a new one. After a ton of research I decided that this unit was the best one that I could get and it wasn’t the most expensive either!! It’s a tad bit stronger than many other units out there at 6w, is waterproof and floats, and has a built in GPS.
Helly Hansen Salt Power Jacket – $140-260
I checked these out at the Annapolis boat show recently and I have one on my wish list. It’s not the super heavyweight jackets to keep you warm in frigid conditions. It’s really one to keep you dry and just warm enough. If you need more protection you can opt for one of the HH offshore jackets or as I plan to do, just throw on one of my fleece jackets underneath if necessary.
Solavore Solar Oven – $287
When Michelle brought this on board I was skeptical. I had heard the stories about how great solar ovens worked but wasn’t sold until I had eaten a solar casserole and OMG the baked potatoes. The physics (or is it thermodynamics) behind it are simple, but it’s tough to wrap your brain around how actually works. We are so conditioned to think that cooking requires vast amounts of expensive fossil fuels. Nope. Believe me, at the beachy latitudes (or hot Texas summers when we got it) that many of us live in, this thing will rock! Oh, and do yourself a favor and snag the case ($65) while you are at it. It’s a good insurance policy that will keep your Solavore safe and protected.
GoPro Hero 5 Session – $299
What’s a Holiday Gift Guide without a GoPro? We’ve shot plenty of video on our older GoPro but love the size and ease of the Sessions. If you’re on a sailboat and need a video camera you owe it to yourself to get a GoPro. The days of clunky video cameras are over and if you drop that high dollar digital SLR movie rig into the drink…well…you know. Michelle says that I need to say that GoPros are waterproof (unlike their older versions) because apparently that’s not widely known. Even if you aren’t trying to make a mint by producing videos constantly you still will want some footage from time to time of your adventures. This thing can handle it. If you need to shoot 4k at 60 FPS in wide and want 5Ghz Wifi then go for the latest model, the Hero 6 Black ($499).
Dickinson Marine Sea-B-Que – $320
On OG we had a Magma grill and loved it despite it’s uneven heat and tendency to never quite fit everything we needed to cook on it if we were trying to serve a decent size group. New Giro came with this Dickinson and talk about taking your grilling to the next level. This thing will do it. It cooks even, it gets HOT, and sips propane. Plus it has enough surface area to let you cook for all but the largest of crowds.
Allen Fly Fishing – Kraken Fly Reel – $349+
As a recent convert to fly fishing, I am totally hooked. There is far more skill and finesse involved in fly fishing. If you are going to fly fish in saltwater you need a good, reliable reel with a sealed bearing drag mechanism. (The typical cork drag won’t last a season.) Of course anything that I can get in Dorado (Mahi/Dolphin/etc.) colors I will! I have two of these and as it stands so far they are IMHO the best fly reels for anyone whether a beginner or a pro. Pair this with a 9′ Allen rod or a TFO Mangrove rod and start slaying those Bonefish, Permit, Jacks, and whatever else you can find.
Raymarine i70s Instrument Display – $400
If like us you are a Raymarine boat and are looking for an awesome upgrade, these are what you need. They are super easy to install if you already have a Seatalk-ng network on board. They come with multiple bezels so you can match your existing equipment for that slick fresh look.
Raritan Marine Elegance Electric Toilet – $1000
If you have space in your power budget, this is probably one of our favorite upgrades. The only drawback….you’ll no longer have that super-buff pump toilet strong-arm. This makes the gift guide as probably one of the most impactful upgrades we’ve done.
So there you are, 25 awesome holiday gifts for you and yours. Was there something even cooler that you had hoped would be on here? Let us know. Or, for that matter share your list, we are always looking for ideas. For our readers in the US, we hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving this week. Wishing everyone happy holidays and stay tuned, we have a really cool series coming out for December.