10 Thoughtful Christmas Gift Ideas for Boaters 2016

Hey guys, its that time of year again!   We’ve found a few products this year that we’ve really enjoyed, and we’d like to share them with you.  Great post to link on your facebook for a little hint hint to your friends.  ūüôā

  1. A Cold Can – Ok so full disclamer, we may or may not be friends with the man who invented this thing but it is pretty sweet.  It keeps your drink really cold, seals completely with a locking cap, and floats!  Plus you will be supporting a small business. http://www.thecoldcan.com/

2. This spotlight from West Marine – A lot of people don’t think about needing a spotlight until they get caught out at night.  Think of it for them!  This one is rechargable and happens to go on sale at 50% off on black friday.  Making it only $50

3. Personalized Flag – There’s nothing like hoisting a custom flag with your name on it to make people say “wow these people are serious about pirating”.  We got one a few years ago and its one of our most cherished possessions.

4.A French Press and/or Airtight Coffee Container – This is the combo we’ve had on the boat for a couple years now and we really really love them.  Both are absolutely good as new after living exclusively on the boat.

5. Nesting Pots – If you really really love the person you’re buying for you’ll get them this Magma cooking set.  I swear it is better quality than the ones I have at my house.

6. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my bags in this list!  Please feel free to visit my shop and buy a recycled sailbag for someone you love.  Use coupon code Christmas2016 for 15% off through Jan 1st.

7. Black and Decker Air System – There are a lot of floating toys on a boat, and most of them can’t be inflated simply using your lungs.  This little air station has attachments for everything you might need and its battery operated.  We have one and we’ve found we can blow up about 4 air mattresses per charge.

8. Mono Guitar Case -These guitar cases are extra tough for boat life.  They have impact panels for when you’re getting knocked around underway.  They’re also waterproof for dingy rides to shore.

9. Luci lights – As a boater you can never have too many luci lights.  They’re small, light weight, and last longer than any other solar light I’ve ever tried.  We’ve had ours for a few years now and they’re still going strong.  They come in all sorts of colors and styles these days.

10. If all else fails get them what they really need.  A West Marine gift card.

If none of these ideas catch your eye check out our list from last year.


Guitar Comparison: Gibson Hummingbird versus Epiphone Hummingbird Artist

The Gibson Hummingbird has always been my dream guitar. It had that rock and roll pedigree, mellow mahogany tone, and just enough flamboyance to make it a legendary instrument. There’s just one catch, it’s really expensive.


I fell in love with the Gibson back in my teens, and more than 20 years later, I finally have one (used, of course, I’m not crazy). However, needing another guitar for boating and camping, I was very curious as to the real differences between the Gibson and the very affordable Epiphone Hummingbird Artists. In fact, I found a blueburst B-stock Epiphone Hummingbird Artist for only $169.

Aside from the headstock you’d think the Epiphone would be a spitting image of the Gibson, but it’s definitely not. First off, their bodies, while both mahogany, are not quite the same size. The Gibson¬†is¬†slightly wider and¬†deeper¬†than the Epiphone with a more pronounced curve to the back.


Both guitars have a 24.75″ scale neck, which is probably my favorite aspect of the guitar. It really helps me reach some of those chords with wide spreads. While the Gibson neck does feel more refined, when switching back and forth between the two guitars, you essentially feel like you’re playing the same instrument.

The Epiphone has a synthetic bone nut and a truss rod cover with three screws while the Gibson has a real bone nut and a truss rod cover with only two screws.

The rosewood bridges are similar, but once again, the Epiphone has a synthetic saddle while the Gibson has a real bone saddle. However, the Gibson still has cheap plastic pegs¬†to hold in the strings. Being outside of the saddle, I know they don’t affect tone, but for the price, you’d think Gibson would spend $1 for real bone there as well.

There’s a HUGE¬†difference in the tuners. My Hummingbird¬†has sealed grover tuners, and the newer Gibson models have sealed Gotoh tuners. Epiphone doesn’t¬†even mention the brand of their cheapo tuners in any of their collateral. They’re pretty terrible. I had some serious trouble keeping the Epiphone in tune for the first few weeks I owned it, although it has gotten better. With the Gibson, it’s usually in tune when I open the case, and it never goes out. With the Epiphone, I have to make sure and tune it before I start playing, and I might need to readjust it once or twice throughout the course of a three-hour jam. (This is about on par with every sub-$400 guitar I’ve ever owned.)

Of course, the real signature of a guitar is it’s tone, so I made a short video comparing the Gibson Hummingbird to¬†the Epiphone Hummingbird Pro. Both guitars have Elixir Custom Light strings, and the audio was recorded on a Zoom H2n set to 4 channel mode. If you’re reading/watching this on a phone or laptop, you’ll probably have to plug in some headphones to really hear the difference.

So there you have it, a detailed look at the differences between a Gibson Hummingbird and an Epiphone Hummingbird Artist.

10 Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas for Sailors

Here are a few ideas for that boater you know that they will find incredibly useful, and will not break your budget. Just casually link this page to your family members ;).

1. Nice Rum – This goes without explanation.


2.¬†A good¬†Flashlight¬†– The one we linked here is one we own and we love it. ¬†We were a little put off by the price at first, but it is so amazing. I love how it’s USB rechargeable. Its extremely tough, and provides good light. It’s also water resistant.

3. Automatic Inflatable PFDs – These are¬†PFDs they may actually wear! ¬†The thing about giant orange life jackets is that they will not save any lives down in the locker, and NO ONE wants to wear them. This PFD is just a small belt that will auto inflate when you hit the water. It’s so comfortable you might forget you have it on.


4. COLREGS reference guide¬†– I know … it’s so fun. Unless you’ve recently taken a captain’s exam, chances are it takes you a minute to remember your COLREGS. ¬†And if you’ve never studied for a test like that, there is a better chance you don’t even know what these are, especially if you’re a power boater. (only joking … sort of) ¬†A handy laminated chart can help!


5. Collapsible Bucket Рgreat for washing down decks, washing your clothes and bailing water.

6.¬†Anything from my shop¬†– plug plug plug plug. ¬†Unless you want the dogs to be sad …


7.¬†Turkish Towels¬†and Self Cleaning Travelers Towels¬†– ¬†These are famous in the boat community. ¬†Sv Necesse and Windtraveler have both done¬†blogs about them. Regular towels can take up a lot of space¬†on a boat, and they store a lot of moisture and smell. ¬†They’re also quite bulky to store and large for carrying to the laundromat.¬†Carolyn from The Boat Galley¬†swears by the travelers towels, and I trust her. Anything that reduces smell on a boat is a must. It’s a small space. (This applies to showering as well … Fred).

turkish towel

8. Collapsible Kitchen Things – Especially 1 bowl, 1 colander, and a set of measuring cups. More than that may be too much, depending on the size of the boat, but you can also find great nesting backpacking pot kits at REI.

9. A red Jacques Cousteau hat – Cuz boat hair.

red hat

10.  If all else fails get them what they really need.  A West Marine gift card.

Want to see my G-string?

Any luthiers or guitar experts out there?


I always keep a cheap guitar on the boat. I want it to sound decent, but if worse comes to worst, I don’t want to feel bad if I have to use it as a paddle.

My first boat guitar was an Epiphone Dove with a cracked neck that I procured for $30.


A little wood glue, and it was a nice player for about a year. Then the same spot on the neck broke again, so I stripped it for hardware and junked the body.

My current guitar is an Epiphone AJ. It was a B stock guitar with a few blemishes that I picked up new for $89.


For the past two years or so, it played and sounded great.¬†Unfortunately it has suddenly started popping G-strings. The last two times I’ve played it the G string has broken at the saddle with¬†less than¬†two hours of use. Then tonight I swapped the strings again, and the G broke while I was just tuning it.

I use Elixir strings, so they don’t rust out in a week on the boat, but they’re about $15 a set. When the guitar is worth less than $100, even $15 is a large investment, especially if the strings are now only lasting for an hour or two of play time. They were previously lasting for up¬†to six months of weekend jams.

My Gibson has a bone saddle, and I see lots of them¬†available on eBay for anywhere from 99 cents to $20. But how do I know they’ll fit, and is a 99 cent bone saddle really any good? Should I search for a replacement nylon/plastic saddle? Should I gift this guitar to a starving artist and find another sub-$100 boat instrument?

Right now I have a B string replacing the G string, so that there’s less tension, but it makes the tone a little funny. Using two B strings is definitely not a long-term solution.

Come on guitar experts, I know you’re out there. What in the world is going on with my guitar and how do I fix it (cheaply)?

Three easy boat meals under $5

So thanks to a request from a gentleman on reddit, I am going to give you three meal ideas for a day on the boat.  Using ingredients that will all fit into a small cooler, and can be cooked with only a grill. Also I tried to use things that are in season (summer), and are inexpensive.  The cost is estimated for 2 people, and for the percent of the item you would use.  For example the pancake mix listed below is $5, but it makes two meals, so therefore $2.50 per meal. Obviously, cut all costs in half if you are by yourself.

Meal 1: Pancakes with strawberries on top. (cost per 2 people) $3.95

1/2 package of strawberries: $1.25

Bisquick shake and pour pancake mix: its a little more per pancake, but its sooo easy.  Makes enough pancakes for 4 portions this size.  Stores for a week.  $2.50

Syrup: maybe .20 worth of syrup?  That’s hard to estimate…


Lunch: Toasted Turkey, bacon and cheese sandwich with side salad. $3.65

Turkey: 1.00

Cheese: .40

1/2 bag salad: $1.25

Bacon: $1 (on salad and sandwhich)


Dinner: Grilled Chicken thighs, corn, and a side salad (Cost $5.00)

Chicken Thighs: .88/lb..so at the most $2

Corn: 6/$1  so .40

Other half of the salad from lunch: $1.25

Raspberry vinagarette: .10

Other half of Strawberries: $1.25


Clear Lake Shores Food Park

There’s something new happening in Clear Lake this weekend. The food truck craze has hit the area. Check out the new Clear Lake Shores Food Park.


We stopped by for a look around and Mary made a beeline for the pastry truck.


Prices were high, but both the creme brulee and the macaroons were excellent.


The Fat Wagon prices were more reasonable, but they weren’t opening back up until 4 p.m., so we didn’t get a chance to try their food.


The Clear Lake Shores Food Park should be open through Memorial Day.

My big question is, why don’t we have food boats out in the bay? Can someone please get on that?

Weird boats I’m not allowed to buy (From Mary)

Ok so…I am constantly on the hunt for a new boat. ¬†Not that there is anything wrong with our boat, or that I really intend to buy one, but you never know what you will find.

So here I would like to introduce you to a few amazing boats that my husband will never allow me to purchase.

1. The Podcat¬†http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1986/Podcat–2731621/Santa-Barbara/CA/United-States#.VMf1of54qmQ


This boat is super fast, and super retro, and looks like a frikin space ship.  Unfortunately though, its small, and also probably impossible to find replacement parts for, and for these reasons I will never be able to zoom past you in my amazing space boat. Seriously check out the windows on the back..they look like thrusters.

Theres also a video of it in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_8BQVSKheQ

2. Basically any old pirate ship

There is a steady stream of amazing old pirate ships on craigslist.  This one was my most recent fantasy thanks to my friend Shari: http://globalnews.ca/news/1704973/watch-pirate-ship-for-sale-in-california/

Because you know..if you could just get a few sailing buddies together, it wouldn’t be that much, and then HIGH SEAS ADVENTURE. ¬†I mean..I don’t need anything else in my life.

3. For Cheap or Trade, large liveaboard, Needs work

If you spend any time at all on craigslist, you have seen this boat.  Its big, it may or may not have an interior.  Sometimes it has never even been in the water, and maybe it is just glued together boards.  A few examples of the things this guy is willing to trade for include a Honda motorcycle or $50.

project boat

Don’t get me wrong. ¬†I mean no disrespect to this guy.¬†Every bit of white trash in me wants to buy this thing, put it on my lawn and slowly glue stuff onto it until it will float.

In case you would like to buy this boat: http://houston.craigslist.org/boa/4821672463.html

4. A Wharram…anything.¬†

I love these boats, they look like something out of a movie. ¬†My husband won’t let me have one…that is all.


This one is a pretty sweet example…I love the gang planks that lower down.