It’s the gifting time of year for many people, and the questions on “what should I get for the cruiser on my list” are appearing with frequency. Like most things cruising, many of the ideas here serve double duty. Wins all around!
Of course you can always give my favorites - time and attention. Those are hard to wrap up with pretty paper, but if you’re crafty you can figure out a cool way to package it.
Two of my favorite gifts for the boat were surprises, “just because” offerings that came our way from friends. One, a hand-carved (with the help of a dremel tool), lovingly varnished oval name plate (that’s a poor description of it but the best I can come up with), is displayed to this day on the port side of the cabin, in between 2 of the portholes. I realize I don’t even have a picture of it, a problem I’ll remedy the next time I’m on board.
The other is a whimsical gargoyle that guards the boat from near the galley. These mythical creatures are said to provide protection from evil - and though we don’t think there should be evil on board, we’ll take protection where it’s offered.
Cruisers have their own sets of wish lists, of course, and they depend on things like storage space, expected cruising grounds, particular likes and dislikes. But what about gifts for those who’ve recently been bitten by the cruising bug - but who don’t yet have a boat or a solid plan? What can you get them? (note: as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Books. Not many, because they’ll wind up sometime with limited space and will want their own to add to the mix. Three I’d recommend wholeheartedly for their practical knowledge and learned-on-the-job wisdom are This Old Boat (Don Casey), Voyaging With Kids (Behan Gifford, Sara Dawn Johnson, and Michael Robertson), and The Boat Galley Cookbook (Carolyn Shearlock). Do I have others on board? Yes, of course. But for someone who wants to learn about life on a boat and cruising, to gain insights into the part of the lifestyle not a lot of people talk about? These three cover a lot of ground. (Here’s a link to another blog post with more books!)
Video series. Dream fodder, frankly. Why not? These are links to websites or Patreon pages for really great cruising/boat work videos. You can get a “subscription” and link the login to your cruising-dreaming friend’s email address. Distant Shores TV, SV Delos, Ran Sailing, Sailing Kittiwake, and Sampson Boat Company are ones we turn to again and again. These range from young couples on tiny boats to a cool dude rebuilding a 100-year-old wooden boat to a floating commune of sorts to couples cruising all over the place. These are by no means the only ones out there.
Fun-and-practical-even-on-land: Sport-a-Seat folding seats. We use these all the time on board; when our cockpit cushions finally die we won’t replace them (at least that’s the plan right now.) They work just as well on land. Comfortable stadium seating, anyone? Insulated water bottle (either a Yeti or a Hydroflask). Durable as heck, solid performers, and happy on watch in the cockpit, on the beach, or in your car commute. Silicone-encased wine glasses. You may be aware that I don’t hold with the “no glass on board” rhetoric; these, though, satisfy both my desire for real glass AND the worry about breakage. Added bonus? Colors! A set of compact reusable shopping bags. Cruising is about being mindful of the environment - these bags are light, strong, squish into nothing, and come in a variety of fun colors and patterns. Start the cruisers-to-be on the mindset path of conservation!
And if you really want to feed their cruising dream? Get them tickets to Cruisers University. Being surrounded by people who are also investigating this new lifestyle and being taught by those who have solid experience is priceless. Plus (ahem) I happen to know that the instructors are fantastic!
I have to end this post with a shameless plug - for my own book. It’s more for land-based people than cruisers (mostly because I have yet to test the pizza-making on board with this kind of regularity!) but if you want all the secrets to homemade pizza, this book is just what you need to have. Video bonuses galore!