Last week we brought you our official 2015 Holiday Gift Guide followed by our Working Sailor’s Edition Gift Guide and today my email has dozens of messages from gCaptain reader asking for more! So if you are looking for a small gift to slip inside the stocking of your favorite mariner this Christmas than this guide is for you!
P.S. Most of these items will ship for free if you sign up for Amazon Prime!
Learn To Play The Bosun’s Whistle (or Pipe)
Historically the bosun’s whistle was used to pass commands to the crew when the voice could not be heard over the sounds of the sea. Because of its high pitch, it could be heard over the activities of the crew and bad weather. The pipe consists of a narrow tube (the gun) which directs air over a metal sphere (the buoy) with a hole in the top. The player opens and closes the hand over the hole to change the pitch. The rest of the pipe consists of a “keel”, a flat piece of metal beneath the gun that holds the call together. $12 Via Amazon
P.S. I don’t know how to use it either… might be a good new year’s resolution.
Light Pen (not Pen Light)
Look up “Light Pen” and you’ll find myriad tiny flashlights that fit tight in the front pocket of your shirt but none of them actually write… except one. The Weems & Plath Marine Navigation Light Pen is different. Give the top of the LED light pen a twist and you can see what you are entering in the log on those long dark nights without having to light up the whole cabin. The LED Light Pen runs for hours using 2 LR44 1.5 volt batteries which are cheap and easy to replace. $9 Via Amazon
P.S. Also pick up a pair of LED Light Dividers if you’re feeling generous.
Pen Light (Not Light Pen)
Please accept my apology for the semantics, I considered omitting this recommendation to prevent confusion with the aforementioned pen but reconsidered because I love (and use!) both. Anyway. The Fenix LD02 100 Lumens Mini Pen Light LED Flashlight is a very bright AND very small pen that can illuminate a darkened passageway in an emergency. It is not intrinsically safe (like THIS one) but does run on a familiar AAA battery. $30 Via Amazon ($35 in Stainless)
P.S. We like using these with eneloop rechargeable AAA batteries because the eneloops, unlike most rechargeables, maintain a charge while sitting on the shelve.
A Modern Fountain Pen
For daytime use on deck you obviously don’t need a light connected to your pen but we don’t suggest using a cheap bic pen either. In our official gCaptain 2015 Holiday Gift Guide we already suggested that the Original Fischer Space Pen (available in various shapes and sizes) is the best writing instrument to use on the deck of the ship…. but what’s the best pen for use in the chart room or at the office ashore? Our friends at ThePenAdict suggest (and I agree) that the best upscale rollerball pen is the Retro 1951 Tornado while the best cheap/disposable pens are Uni-Ball’s Signo DX. But I like a different kind of pen, one that writes smoother than the rest and is a joy to use. For me the best pen is a fountain pen and the best fountain pen under $100 is TWSBI’s Diamond 580 Fountain Pen. $50 Via Amazon
P.S. Here’s Brian Goulet with 12 Reasons Why You Should Write with a Fountain Pen
P.S.2. Don’t forget the Ink Well… you’ll need it!
A Griddy Guide’s Notebook
Grids & Guides is a 144 page notebook of varied and unusual graph paper (including some new grid designs), interspersed with engaging charts and infographics—from knot tying to logic expressions— making it a great gift for right-brained deckies and left-brained engineers alike. $15 Via Amazon
Automatic Car OBD iThingamabobber
This little unit is the Automatic Connected Car Adapter and while the name isn’t very descriptive it connects your car to your iPhone (or Andriod) and does two important jobs. The few times I drove to catch a ship I ran into two major problems. First, I’d have to arrive at the ship very early and did not want to wake her up to let her know I arrived safe. This unit solves the problem because it will text her if I ever crash my car. Second, I always hated figuring out expense reports. This solves that problem too because it calculates exact mileage and fuel costs on a per trip basis. $79 Via Amazon
A Fire Stick That Can’t Start A Fire
With instant access to Netflix, HBO NOW, Hulu, Amazon Prime and 1Gb of storage Amazon’s Fire Stick TV plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV but that’s not why I’m recommending it (I prefer the larger storage capacity of the New Apple TV) … I’m recommending it because of its low price and diminutive size which makes it perfect for traveling. Bring it to the hotel and avoid those overpriced movie selections or lend it to your watchmate aboard ship. $39 via Amazon
Peace Of Mind That Fits In A Stocking
A solitary life at sea carries inherent risks. And the biggest one, the one sailors like to think the least about, is being lost at sea. It is truly the worst case scenario. This little unit, ACR’s ResQLink PLB, is a miniature EPIRB that clips to your lifejacket and transmits an emergency signal to the Coast Guard in an emergency. While a PLB doesn’t reduce the risk of falling overboard or prevent ships from sinking, it does greatly improve the chance you’ll be rescued if disaster strikes. $251 Via Amazon.
Want peace of mind but not $251 dollars worth? This air-tight and crushproof sardine can is packed with 25 survival items, including a fishhook, signal mirror, fire starter cube, and first aid supplies. Will this small kit help you survive the next zombie apocalypse? No but it’s pretty cheap and a lot of fun; every stocking needs at least one item that’s simply designed to delight and act as a conversation piece. This fits the bill nicely. $7 via Amazon
Conversion Tables Galore
This is one sweet book. Tom Glover’s Pock Ref 3rd Edition is part encyclopedia, part trivia tome, part entertainment and part dispute-solver. Buried in the various tables and charts are tons of data and facts to aid the rider, roadside mechanic or budding MacGyver. This book has everything. Wind Chill tables, Heat Index data, an entire chapter that cross-references SAE, Metric and even Whitworth hardware (whatever that is). Oh sure, you can get this information off of the internet but what fun is that? $10 via Amazon
P.S. If your secret santa is an Engineer chances are he already has a copy. In that case why not upgrade him to the hardcover edition for a few bucks more?
If You Also Hate Keychains
If your guy is still using an overstuffed carabiner attached to his belt loop, it’s time to upgrade him to a smarter way to carry his keys. Gone are the days of Chief Mates and First Engineers jingling like janitors thanks to the KeySmart’s aircraft aluminum, stainless steel, laser engraved design. $19 Via Amazon
P.S. If your guy likes big bulky keyrings then we suggest Weems & Plath’s Brass Travel Thermometer which is unduly heavy but looks cool and is useful.
Genuine US Navy Wool Watchcap
Nothing says I Love You better than a warm watchcap on a cold night at sea. And nothing outperforms wool in the wet and cold conditions we often face at sea… it might even save your life as it once did for the Chief Mate of the Marine Electric. Of course Bob Cusick wore a handmade knitted hat, but then you’d need needles, yarn and a bucket full of time. This genuine US Navy Wool Watchcap by Rothco gives you the warm without the need to learn a new skill. $8 Via Amazon
P.S. If you are a knitter, please consider donating your time and skills to The Knit Before Christmas campaign sponsored by The Seaman’s Church.