It’s time once again to update our list of really cool stuff for a cruising sailboat. All these are things we love, and most of them we use every day. If you buy them through the links here we get a small commission at no cost to you. If that bothers you, buy them elsewhere. No matter. All of these products are things we can recommend without reservation.
We have a variety of was of capturing the pictures we use on our blog. At the high end, we have a Nikon DLSR with a brace of great lenses, and at the low end we have our iPhone cameras. There are a lot of times we need something “in between.” Something we can keep on deck where it might get wet, but with more versatility and capability than an iPhone.
This Olympus camera has filled that gap perfectly. It is totally waterproof, has a reasonable zoom range, and does a passable job at video. The images are way better than a phone camera, but of course not up to the standard of a professional grade DLSR. For you fellow photography nerds out there, it can store its images as raw files. Take it snorkeling, take it to the beach, when you come home just wash the salt and sand off under the faucet.
It has a great feature set, with more capabilities than the average point and shoot, and also with the fully automatic modes that let you just grab and shoot without thinking. There are other “rugged” cameras on the market, but Olympus has done the best job with capability and image quality.
If you go with this camera, I have two suggestions. Get a small case, and get a screen protector for the rear viewscreen. You’ll be using this in a rough and tumble way, and the one part that suffers is the anti-reflective coating on the screen.
Having tried a lot of different ways of making coffee on a boat, this has been the way I have settled on. Melitta is a premium German company, and this product is no exception, yet the price is very reasonable. The carafe is very well insulated and will keep your coffee hot all day. The wide base means that on a rolling boat it stays upright, even when the filter is full.
It’s not magic, it’s not anything but very well designed and very well executed. If you love (or need!) coffee as much as I do, this is an invaluable item.
Almost all gas stoves and BBQ grills that are used on boats have a built-in spark system to ignite the gas. These ignition systems are highly unreliable, and fail fairly quickly leaving the cook to light the stove manually.
We have used piezo-electric spark tools, and butane lighters. They work… but this tool is the bomb. A plasma lighter. Seriously. At first glance it looks like any other spark generating lighter–but it’s not. The plasma spark it generates is more than hot enough to light candles–or anything else that will burn. It is battery powered, and rechargeable with a USB cord. Elegant, high tech, functional, and really cool. Sometimes the cheap and simple pleasures are the best!
Let There be Light
Mantus Marine is a company that whose products show a dedication to value, design and functionality we really appreciate. Best known for their anchors (we trust our boat, and our safety to a Mantus anchor) all of their other products are nothing short of awesome.
There are a bizzillion LED headlamps on the market these days. I can not tell you I have tried all of them, but I have tried many. The Mantus headlamp is the best. Hands down. Period. It is rugged, it is bright. It is well designed. It has a replaceable battery if you should ever wear it out. It is a rare day on Harmonie that we don’t use at least one of the three or four we have on board. Trust me, you’ll be happy with this headlamp, even if you only use it as a handheld flashlight.
The Balmar SG200 battery monitor has been removed from our “recommended list.” If you want to know why, drop me an email and I’ll give you the gory details.
Nobody is more “off the grid” than a cruising sailboat. We generate all of our own power, and have the battery bank to store it. Taking care of a battery bank means understanding how “full” it is. This is a complex topic and has lots of variables, but our SG200 battery monitor from Balmar has proven itself to be a useful tool. It tells us how charged our battery is, and this is not a simple thing. It goes one step further, and tells us the state of health of our battery bank. It is fairly new to us, but both the product and the tech support from Balmar have proven to be excellent. If you have questions about this, feel free to shoot me an email, and I’ll do my best to answer, but this is the best way to monitor your battery’s health I have found.
Clean and Shine
For the care of Harmonie’s exterior we use two products that have proven their worth.
Imagine for a moment you have a wooden surfboard with a beautiful varnished finish. It sure is pretty, but when wet is far too slippery to stand on! This was the original application for “Woody Wax.” The properties that made it great for giving bare feet traction on wooden surfboards, make it great as a wax for the non-skid deck surfaces on a boat. We have seen the great job it does protecting surfaces on Harmonie. Painted, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, fiberglass gelcoat, all look better and corrode less when given a coat of Woody Wax every 6 months or so.
The perfect partner product to Woody Wax for boat decks is Starbright Deck Cleaner. It does a fantastic job of getting all the mess and dirt off fiberglass, vinyl, and metal surfaces without a lot of scrubbing. Using these products together we find the boat just stays cleaner. Dirt (even sunbaked fish blood and guts) just doesn’t stick.
The great thing about these products is they leave your boat’s non-skid deck, well, non-skid!