FOR all those suffering the annual problem of what to put underneath the tree for their boat-obsessed other halves, here are some suggestions – some to be taken more seriously than others…
One of the single most useful presents that anyone has given me is a Waterbuoy floating key ring.
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve managed to drop the boat keys into the river – clambering across slippery decks while trying to carry too many things at once is just asking for trouble I know – but this clever little gadget simply clips on to your key ring and keeps the keys afloat long enough for you to retrieve them. At under £10 from most chandleries, it’s worth it’s weight in gold.
If the skipper is one of those who’s never been able to work out which is port and which is starboard, why not give him a pair of captain’s socks – available from Nauticalia among other suppliers, at a cost of just £4.95. The left sock is bright red and the right a lurid green. It won’t win him any prizes at a fashion show, but it just might save a lot of cussing and swearing net time someone shouts out ‘hard-a-starboard!’
On a slightly more serious note, why not consider buying him a guide to navigating the lower reaches of the Thames on DVD? There’s an excellent series called Telepilot, produced by master mariner Gary Williams, which includes four DVDs devoted to navigating the Thames. Thames One covers the run between Shepperton Lock and Tower Bridge, while Thames Two takes you on from Tower Bridge to the point where the Thames joins the River Medway in Kent. If you’re feeling brave, there are two other episodes which cover passages from the Medway to Ramsgate and from Ramsgate right across the estuary to the River Crouch in Essex. Priced between £22-£38, they are extremely worthwhile guides for anyone planning to make these journeys. Visit www.yachttuition.co.uk for more information.
Also useful are a couple of valuable guides to navigating on the upper Thames. Chris Cove-Smith’s excellent River Thames Book is available from most bookshops at around a tenner and contains lots of really useful information for skippers including points of interest on each reach of the river, a guide to riverside hostelries, a guide to mooring and where you can refuel. Alternatively, there’s the Nicholson Ordnance Survey Guide to the River Thames. Both make great presents.
Tickets for the London Boat Show are always most acceptable for those who like to drool over half-million pound gin palaces – or just to look at the latest lines in racing dinghies. Tickets for the show, which is at the Excel in Docklands from January 8-18, cost from £15 for a standard adult one-day ticket ip to £85 for the champagne platinum ticket. Further details from www.londonboatshow.com.
If money is no object, how about considering something a little more generous – Fairline luxury motor yachts can probably supply what you’re looking for with their 78-foot-long ultra luxury cruiser which can set you back a couple of million…
And, of course, if all else fails, why not consider a simple bottle of Pusser’s 15-year-old Navy Rum, so the old chap can sit in the corner muttering ‘Shiver me timbers,’ ‘Aha, Jim lad…’ ‘avast behind’ and other suitably nautical festive sayings.
Whatever you’re doing for Christmas, remember it’s only four or five months before we can get the boats back in the water…