MAX EBB — I
t was raining cats, dogs and frying pans. The morning commute over the bridge to the city was going to be almost impossible, with the little map on my phone showing bright red all the way. Only the carpool lane could help, so I diverted to the bus stop to see if I could pick up some casual carpool passengers. Thankfully, there were more riders than cars lined up for the hookup, so no waiting. And before I had even stopped rolling there were three commuters folding up their dripping umbrellas and piling into my car. "Sorry about all the sailing gear in the back seat," I apologized to my new passengers. "Say, what kind of boat do you have?" asked the man sitting directly behind me as he repositioned a coil of
Navisafe running lights: Finally, a portable, clamp-on, self-contained battery-powered navigation light that works reliably and complies with the two-mile visibility requirement for boats under 12 meters LOA. $60, plus another $27 for the clamp-on rail mount.
new dock line and a canvas bag full of tools that were blocking his access to the seatbelt buckles. We traded the usual vital info that's exchanged between sailors: Boat details, where we berthed, races we had sailed, skippers and crew we both knew from years past, where we had cruised. With the introductions over, my passenger showed some curiosity regarding some of the gear that was making his backseat ride even more cramped than usual. "I've never had much luck with those battery-powered running lights," he said as he examined a box he was shifting to a different spot on the backseat floor in an attempt to find some leg room. "You must be thinking of those old clamp-on lights with the two D cells and the light bulb," I said. "Those were pathetically dim and hardly lasted two Page 84 •
• December, 2017
hours on a set of batteries." "I had the newer model with the LED lights," my passenger explained. "They were brighter and lasted a long time on four AA batteries, but the on-off switch was flaky. I had to give my bow light a dope slap every so often just to get it to turn on. The box back here looks like a completely new design." "You'll like them," I predicted. "Much brighter LEDs. Finally there's a portable Stabilized binoculars: Thanks to spinoff technav light that meets the two-mile visnology from digital cameras, stabilized binocuibility requirement. No problem with the lars are down to $360. This is for the low-end switch so far, and battery life is pretty Canon 8x25 model. But, for the full beneﬁts of good, even though they're only powered stabilization and high-quality optics, you'll still by three AAA cells. I have two of them on need to spend a boat buck ($1,000) or more. my boat as a backup, and that one's a sucks. Convinces me that I'm, like, in gift for one of my crew. He sails a small no rush to finish my degree. Commuting boat with no electrical system, and keeps just sucks." getting thrown out of beer can races for "Especially today," I agreed. "Rain finishing after sunset with no lights." plus holiday traffic. But what do fire "That's generous of you," remarked trucks have to do with stabilized binthe passenger. "My wife and I usually oculars?" exchange something major for the boat. It's, like, the first rule of gift-giving," Sometimes even a new racing sail or a Lee explained. "No fire trucks." haulout and bottom job. But this year it "I don't think anyone in my family seems the boat has everything, so I'm at would like a fire truck," I said. a loss... "No, Max. 'Fire truck' is code for a "You know, I've had gyro-stabilized present that you buy for someone else, binoculars on my Amazon wish list for but you really want it for yourself. As in, years," I said wistfully, " but they never 'let's buy Mom a fire truck' as typically seem to show up under the tree." expressed by a kid to his dad while shop"That's a great idea," said my passenping for a gift for Mom." ger. "I'd love to have a pair of those on the "I see." boat. They're expensive, but they would "She's right," said the older woman in work as the main holiday boat gift." the front seat on my right. "But, like, it's a fire truck," said a I vaguely recalled that it was a term of young woman's voice from the other side art popularized by Car Talk's Click and of the back seat. The voice was much too Clack. familiar. "If the stabilized binoculars are what "Lee? Is that you?" you really want," she continued, "then With her identity hidden by the umproper gift etiquette dictates that you brella and the raincoat, I hadn't noticed are not allowed to buy them for someone that it was Lee Helm, naval architecture else. Even if you think she might like grad student and occasional race crew them, too. If you want them more than who had been the third person to climb she does, that disqualifies the item as a into my car, now seated in right rear. "Aloha, Max!" she answered cheerfully. "And mahalo for the lift." "But why are you going across the bridge on such a nasty day? Don't you have a thesis to finish?" "I'm working in a Knipex pliers: The best pliers ever made. Replaces conventional plidesign office in the city ers, channellocks, small wrenches and even some sockets, so they during the academic are perfect for a small-boat toolbox. The cam-action design multiplies break," she explained. gripping force and keeps the gripping surfaces parallel, and they "The work is interest- won't slip out of position like conventional channellocks. About $50 ing, but commuting for the 7-inch size.
The December 2017 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.