It’s not easy to choose a gift for a sailor or a cruiser. While there are a million things we may need – tools, boat parts, pilot books to name just a few – if you want it to be a surprise, it’s very hard to figure out what would turn out useful.
I’ve compiled a list of cruiser-friendly gifts, which hopefully will help you out. Some are electronic, so you won’t need to send them to a physical address. This is perfect for people who are sailing in remote places or anchor out all the time.
These are solar lights that float and are super useful for lighting up the cockpit in the evening. We love having our LUCI light on while sipping a drink and chilling out. We also always leave ours on in anchorages at night to either find our boat more easily, or signal the presence of our boat to anyone that might arrive in the dark. It’s one of those things that, even though you already have one or two, you could always do with having another one to get your cockpit brighter.
You can get one sent to your sailor friend’s marina from Amazon here.
That’s an easy one! Most cruisers love to read – they have to, as they spend a considerable amount of time at sea with no internet and nothing much to do other than trimming the sails. We certainly started to read more since we moved on board Kittiwake. Here’s our list of recommended books that sailors will love:
- Seraffyn’s Mediterranean Adventure by Lin and Larry Pardey
- The Long Way by Bernard Moitessier
- Love With a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
- Mutiny on The Bounty by William Bligh
- Two Years Before The Mast by Richard Dana
- The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
- Swell by Liz Clark
- Voyaging With Kids by Behan Gifford
All of these can be purchased as eBooks, which makes it a great present for cruisers without an address. They’ll receive their gift via email as soon as they connect to a wi-fi.
Most cruisers don’t have space to keep books, so we read eBooks. We personally have two Kindles with all our books on, and keep physical copies of pilot books, almanacs and practical boat maintenance books. It saves us lots of space and weight on the boat. They have just released the new waterproof Kindle models, so I bet lots of cruisers would love to upgrade, just in case they have a wobble.
You can grab a waterproof Kindle here.
We’re always in need of charts that we can use for navigation. Ask your friends where they plan to cruise or sail in the next few months and get them a chart for that area. You can opt for a paper chart, or an electronic one. However, for electronic charts you’ll have to dig a little deeper and ask your friends what software and plotter they use, so you don’t risk buying a chart that’s incompatible with their device or app.
All sailors need a logbook to record their journeys, especially cruisers. A nice logbook will show your friends or loved ones that you get them. They will likely already have a logbook, yes, but they will eventually run out of pages. Plus, some sailors and cruisers prefer to keep yearly or continent-specific logbooks, to make it easier to look back to a certain passage or area.
Ryan designed and printed a very easy to use logbook that is specifically for passages. We couldn’t find one like this anywhere. We grew tired of drawing tables each time we go on a passage and we wanted to keep a record of our speed in different weather conditions and more, so we decided to design our own logbook! It’s designed specifically with modern navigation in mind, but it has lots of space to add notes for those who like to use traditional navigation every now and then – the notes section is huge!
You can check out our very own logbook here if you’re based in the UK. If you’re in the USA, you can find it here. It’s also available in other marketplaces – just search for the title and “Ryan Osborne”. If you end up buying the logbook, the royalties we receive from the sales (about £2 per book) will go towards our cruising kitty and boat maintenance fund.
Manual Food Blender
With limited power, cruisers often don’t have any kitchen gadgets. New sailors and cruisers won’t know that they can keep being creative on board with their cooking (and keep enjoying their smoothies and shakes) even when they’re short of power. A manual food blender is an excellent galley addition for any new cruiser. They just need to chuck in their favourite ingredients and use their arm power.
We’ve used the Zyliss one for a year and a half and love it. I make hummus, falafel, tzatziki, chunky smoothies and more with it. It’s also an excellent arm work out.
If your sailing friends are busy refitting their boat or getting a few upgrades for the new season, nothing will ever be as useful as a marine online store gift card. No need to ship anything or guess what they may need; just send them a virtual gift card and help them out with their boat maintenance. They’ll be forever grateful because believe me: nothing is as expensive and difficult as a boat ref-fit. Of course any gift card is good too – think of an Amazon one or an iTunes one.
Unbreakable Wine Glasses
If your cruising friends or family like wine, then a few plastic wine glasses will make for a very welcome present. No cruiser we know would dare keep proper wine glasses on board, but drinking wine out of normal glasses or cups just isn’t the same. It’s a small thing, so most cruisers won’t bother to buy them, which makes it a perfect gift. Check out this cheap set of four polycarbonate glasses.
Courtesy flags are small flags you raise on your starboard spreader upon entering a new country as a sign of respect. Most cruisers collect them and show them off at the end of a big trip. If your sailing friends are hoping to go cruising one day or they have a specific country on their wish list, why not get them the courtesy flag for that country? This is thoughtful and symbolic present – it will inspire them to keep preparing for their cruise or to keep going and sail towards their dream destination.
Most cruisers fish from their boat – there’s nothing better than free dinner after all! Especially if the fish can be turned into sashimi or sushi. Lures for big fish can be quite expensive (£10), so they make for a lovely, thoughtful present.
Ryan loves the Williamson tuna lures and their dorado lures. He constantly bugs me about buying them for him, so they’re definitely good ones. We did catch two tuna without much skill with them and we’ve been cruising in areas with little fish.
If your sailing friends are planning on sailing in the spring, autumn and winter or in higher latitudes, they will probably love (and have never thought about getting) a waterproof hat. It’ll mean keeping their head dry when the weather is rough or during their night watch, when dew forms and wets a normal hat.
We love the Sealskinz ones.
Every sailor will love a good quality waterproof pair of binoculars. It’s one of those delicate accessories you can’t go without. They also often break (read fall and break) out of the blue, so everyone could do with having two pairs. They’re helpful for navigation (spotting buoys, lighthouses and other landmarks) and wildlife watching (was that a whale?!).
Open Table App Voucher
If your cruising friends are on a budget and rarely go out, like us, you’ll make them extra happy by gifting them a voucher on the Open Table app. They’ll be able to go for dinner anywhere that’s on the app. Double-check their country or town is indeed on the app and off they’ll go for a nice meal out. That’d be a lovely treat for them.
You can never have too many dry bags. These are bags that create a waterproof seal that keeps your valuables safe while you dinghy to shore. Many times a double dry bag set-up has saved my camera or laptop when dinghying ashore in choppy seas. I was completely wet, but my electronics and money were safe and sound.
Here’s an example of a good bag.
Lots of boaters keep a small musical instrument on board and the ukulele seems to be the most popular one. It’s something we’d personally love to have on board, but we never get around to spend the money on it, as it feels such a luxury item. There is always something more important on our shopping list. Yet, you can find a very cheap starter set, like this one:
Boat cards are like business cards for cruisers. They’re a quick way to share contact information and keep in touch. You meet so many people while cruising, it’s hard to remember boat names and surnames, so cards are perfect for that. And when you reach the country in which some old friends said they’d be, you can get their boat card out and call them up or check for their vessel on the AIS.
Do your cruising friends need new boat cards? If you’re a good designer, you could design their cards for them and send them over as a surprise. Or you could send them a voucher to make their own. We still haven’t gotten round to creating our own cards (luckily, as we’re changing boats!). Any business card provider should be able to print boat cards, so go for whichever looks like a good one.
Most cruisers love to chill out in a hammock. We own a 2 person fabric one (this one, in green) and love to cuddle up with a blanket in it at the end of the day. We read to each other or listen to podcasts in it. But if your friends love to sunbathe or have an afternoon nap, this could be a great present. Hammocks are usually set up on or near the bow, which means they’re the perfect spot for getting a nice breeze.
We love our hammock, but it does take up quite some space, as it’s made of thick fabric. If you’re looking for one that can fold down to a smaller size, check this nylon one out.
This is something we discovered we needed once we made the transition from catamaran to monohull. The movement of a monohull simply won’t allow you to sip your morning coffee as if it was nothing while underway. We’re still getting used to the monohull life, so we got ourselves travel mugs that we can close up. Why do we want mugs that close? So that we won’t spill hot coffee or tea while climbing out of the companionway, in case we need to attend to a line while we’re alone in the cockpit, and more. Plus, a thermal mug is great for cold weather sailing and night sailing. Here’s the ones we got. We shall see in the summer if they work for cold drinks too.
Do you know we have a YouTube channel? We share our adventures as well as tips on how to become budget cruisers and more. Check it out!