Author Archives: LoriEllen

A Stormglass Predicts The Weather

 Weems Stormglass (Brass) in Black Gift BoxCheck PriceI had never heard of a stormglass, so, when I saw that someone bought one of these off of my Handy Gifts For A New Boat Owner article, I just had to figure out what a Weems Stormglass was and how to use it. After figuring both out, I already have one in my Amazon cart. Once I purchase it, it will live aboard Namaste, our sailboat.

By way of background, a stormglass is an object generally made of brass which has liquid inside that changes appearance and predicts the next day’s weather. The liquid is usually a mixture of such chemicals as ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, ethanol, camphor, and distilled water.

If you look at the liquid and it is cloudy, the weather the next day will also be cloudy. The coolest thing though is when it’s going to thunderstorm – then the liquid will turn cloudy and show little stars! How cool is that??

The Weems stormglass predicts 8 types of weather:

  • Clear weather is indicated by the liquid being totally clear
  • Cloudy weather shows the liquid being cloudy
  • Dots in cloudy liquid indicate high humidity
  • Thunderstorms are indicated by cloudy liquid with stars
  • Clear liquid with small stars in winter months shows snow is coming
  • Large flakes appearing in the liquid in summer indicate the next day’s weather will be overcast. In the winter, this appearance indicates snowy days ahead.
  • Frost makes its appearance in the liquid by crystals forming in the bottom
  • And, if the liquid looks like there are threads in it, that indicates that wind is in the forecast.

Stormglasses are one of the oldest ways to predict weather. This particular stormglass is petite, just around 4″ long and encased in brass. Reviewers love the thing. I think it would be a great item to have on a nice boat. And, how about getting one of these stormglasses to teach younger children about weather?

There’s a few other good ways to predict weather – for those of us who own dogs who react to changes in barometer, there’s almost no better way to know that rain is coming than to watch your trembling dog. However, for those of you who prefer a more precise way to predict the weather, particularly on a boat, here’s a few good choices from

 Weems and Plath Stormglass with Display, BrassCheck Price Ambient Weather AW-YG737S-RD Admiral Fitzroy Storm Glass and Galileo ThermometerCheck Price 6″ Admiral Fitzroy Storm GlassCheck Price Ambient Weather WS-1171A Wireless Advanced Weather Station with Temperature, Dew Point, Barometer and HumidityCheck Price Oregon Scientific BAR208HGA Advanced Weather Station with Atomic Time (small white sensor not included)Check Price

The Picnic Time Manhattan Portable Travel Bar Set – Fun On The Go!

Introducing our favorite travel bar set – the Picnic Time Manhattan Portable Travel Bar Set

 Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kit, MahoganyCheck PriceHot summer days provide boaters with no special reason for throwing a party but, just in case we should have the need, we always carry along our Picnic Time Manhattan Portable Travel Bar set.

(Note: don’t take the name literally – this beautiful travel bar doesn’t just make Manhattans; it’s great for martinis, scotch or whiskey sours – you get the idea….).

John and I often go rafting up with friends, anchoring our boats together offshore for a few hours of good company along with good food and drink. But of course, since the boat galley is so small, for these floating festivals of fun, we need a portable bar. And, John, being a good bartender and a better host, has the perfect solution. He brings on board his Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kit that you see there to the left.

This suitcase-style travel bar has everything we need to serve up our favorite cocktails – Manhattans and Martinis, perhaps. John either carries the cocktail case aboard with its adjustable luggage strap or I might tote it with the sturdy handle.

We love this particular travel bar because of the lovely velveteen-lined interior which protects and showcases its libations. And, this portable bar has a fully insulated divided compartment that accommodates 2 “fifths” or 2 “liter” sized bottles of your best liquor.

The bar kit comes complete with 2 martini glasses, a cocktail shaker, jigger, tongs, strainer, stirrer, Vermouth mister, and even includes olive picks and napkins! All you need to do is grab your favorite liquors, a bottle of onions (for a good Gibson), olives for martinis, and hit the road – well, the water.

The exterior of the Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kit is constructed of nice quality leatherette, which you can even have personally monogrammed to suit your mixologist.

Now, if that doesn’t impress your boater friends upon the sea, we don’t know what will! John and I enjoy being tied up alongside our boating friends, enjoying a good cocktail and having fun on the summertime day.

Of course, the Picnic Time Manhattan Insulated Two-Bottle Cocktail Case/Bar Tool Kits make good gifts for boat owners any time of the year. Just be sure to get yourself one too!

Caution: While on the waterways, do follow all boating safety requirements and do be sure to know the alcohol consumption and BUI regulations in your area before rafting up or operating a boat. Stay safe out there.

Here’s a few other highly rated portable travel bars on

 Two Tone Three Bottle Bartender’s Cocktail Bar Travel Bar With ToolsCheck Price 8 Piece Bar Set with 4 Collapsible cups, Ice Tong, Bar Tool and Stirrer in Eltra Suede and Brown Leather BagCheck Price Franmara Martini Travel Bar Set with CaseCheck Price Barmaster’s Pro Bar Travel SetCheck Price Seven Piece Travel Bar SetCheck Price

And a few things to go along with that travel bar set:

 Pack Premium Spanish Pitted Manzanilla Martini Cocktail OlivesCheck Price Set of 6 Stainless Steel Martini PicksCheck Price Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries – 400g JarCheck Price


 Ambient Weather WR-112 Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio, Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger with Weather Alert, SirenCheck Price

Safety at sea is a major concern for John and me when we set out on a boating adventure on the Chesapeake Bay. Of course, John will not leave the dock without first checking our local weather forecast, and we do not step on board our sailboat or our jet ski without the Ambient Weather WR-112 (aka the ADVENTURER) in tow.

If there is a weather (or other) emergency, we want to know and we want to be prepared in advance of a watch or warning. For picking up National Weather Service news broadcasts of local weather reports, watches, and warnings, we reach for our NOAA Weather Radio, the ADVENTURER.

This particular ambient weather station is a compact, easy to use, weather radio packed with features necessary for emergency preparedness, on the boat or off, including but not limited to:

  • Digital All Hazards NOAA AM/FM weather radio
  • LED flashlight
  • Emergency smart phone and Kindle charger
  • Emergency siren
  • 5-way charging capability – My favorite part of this Ambient Weather station is that you can charge it either by hand crank or, weather permitting of course, by solar panel. You can also charge it through a computer USB, DC or car charger (with optional converter), and through AC power outlets (with optional adaptor).

There are 5 different Ambient Weather alert systems on the market. The high end comes in about double the price of this model. Depending on your needed, the Ambient WR-112 might fit the bill like it does ours.

Keep in mind that the ADVENTURER is NOT waterproof. You will want to keep the WR-112 in a dry spot and out of wet weather’s way, while keeping it in a sunny location so it will continue to charge.

Being prepared makes for a much more adventurous day with necessary safety precautions. Recreational boaters need not, indeed, should not, throw caution to the wind when heading out on the ocean – even when on a sailboat!

The ADVENTURER–Don’t leave land without it!


Distress Signals

emergency signalsAlthough there are specific rules for when the Coast Guard requires or suggests that visual distress signals be carried on boats, I simply don’t understand why anyone would be on the water without them regardless of if they’re required or not.

Even if you’re simply spending a day on a lake, if your engine fails and there’s no one around, well, you’re sort of up a creek (pardon the pun). If you at least had a visual distress signal on board, you might have a chance of attracting attention (even from onshore). And, hopefully, you’ll never need distress signals because you ran aground – what was he thinking (picture taken on the Chesapeake Bay)?!

Visual distress signals come in many flavors from pyrotechnic items such as orange smoke bombs shot into the sky to non-pyrotechnic electric distress signals like an orange flag attached to the boat in trouble. These type of distress signals also come in those used specifically for day (such as the ‘floating orange smoke signal’ to those used for night (such as the Parachute Flare – can be used for day also).

 Electronic Distress Signal – CAUTION – EXPENSIVE!Check Price Shoreline Marine Distress FlagCheck Price Electronic Flare EF-10A-1 LightningCheck Price ODEO M3 LED Electronic FlareCheck Price Parachute Flares: SOLAS Red Distress RocketCheck Price

Air horns may not be approved by the Coast Guard for use as distress signals but they sure are handy to have on board for notifying other boats of your position – particularly when coming into and out of marinas where there are blind corners leading to waterways.

 Falcon Safety Push Button HornCheck Price Falcon Sports HornCheck Price

Life Jackets (PFDs) and Throwable Rings, etc.

life jacketIt’s well known that every boat on the water should have one personal floating device (aka, PFD or left jacket) per person, but, did you also know that boats over 16 feet must have a throwable life saving device, like a ring or a floating cushion, aboard? I sure didn’t until I started writing this post.

There are a few different types of PFDs on the market – inflatable life jackets which inflate manually when you pull a cord and the traditional more bulky PFDs. John and I prefer the inflatable life jackets as they’re more comfortable to wear, lighter, and cooler. They’re also easier to store as they fold up to the size of a small pillow.

But, any life jacket which is worn is a good life jacket. The key is to keep PDFs handy and wear them when required, like when jet skiing or water skiing.

Children under the age of 13 must have a life jacket on when a boat is underway unless the child is in a contained space (like the cabin) or below deck. You can, and will, be stopped by Coast Guard police if they spot you trying to skirt this rule.

Here’s a few types of life jackets that are all 4 or more stars out of 5 on

Inflatable life jackets:

 Onyx M-24 Manual Inflatable Life Jacket, RedCheck Price Mustang Survival MIT Automatic Inflatable Personal Flotation Device, Yellow/BlackCheck Price MTI Adventurewear Helios Inflatable PFD Life Jacket (Gray/Gray, Universal)Check Price Kent Type II Adult Life Jackets with Clear Storage Bag, 4 Each (Orange)Check Price Revere Comfortmax Inflatable Belt Pack Manual Type III Personal Flotation Device (Red, 30-52-Inch)Check Price

Traditional style PFDs:

 O’Neill Superlite USCG Vest (Pac/Nvy/Col, Large)Check Price ONYX General Purpose Boating vest, Universal Adult, 3XL, Over 90#, 40-60-Inches Chest, Blue/BlackCheck Price X20 Universal Adult Life Jacket Vest – Blue & BlackCheck Price Stearns Child’s Classic Boating Vest, BlueCheck Price Stearns Infant Classic Boating Vest, RedCheck Price Stearns Child’s and Youth Boating Vests (Red, 50 – 90-Pound)Check Price

Throwable life saving devices:

 Life Jacket / PFD: Type IV Throwable CushionCheck Price Cal June USCG Approved Ring Buoy (20- Inch Diameter, White)Check Price Kwik Tek LL-1 Life Line Rescue Throw Bag 50 FeetCheck Price


Rapid Dissolve Toilet Tissue

Having a head (bathroom) on a boat is a total joy but pumping out isn’t necessary so much fun – especially if you don’t use the right type of toilet paper.

By their very nature, heads on boats are passive – that means that waste goes into a holding tank where it will remain until you reach a pump out station. Rapid dissolve toilet tissue does what it says – it dissolves so that, when you pump out, there will not be a mass of toilet tissue in the bottom of the tank clogging things up.

Rapid dissolve toilet tissue is suitable not only for boats, but also works quite well in homes with septic systems or in RVs or during any type of camping trip.

 Thetford 03300 Aqua-Soft 2 Ply Toilet Tissue – Pack of 4Check Price Camco 40274 TST 2-Ply Toilet Tissue – 4 packCheck Price Earthsmart Zero Trees Recreational Compostable Toilet PaperCheck Price Scott Rapid Dissolve Bath Tissue, 4 Count (Pack of 12)Check Price

And, while we’re at it, it’s a good idea to throw one of these holding tank deodorizers down the toilet every time you pump out. Without going into details, you’ll be glad you did. We personally prefer the little packets that you just drop in, but there’s a liquid also (note: we haven’t tried the liquids but they got good reviews on

 Walex TOI-91799 Porta-Pak Holding Tank Deodorizer, (Pack of 10)Check Price Walex BIO-11530 Bio-Pak Natural Holding Tank Deodorizer and Waste Digester, (Pack of 10)Check Price Camco 41529 TST Blue Enzyme Toilet Chemical Drop-In – 10 packCheck Price Reliance Products Bio-Blue Toilet Deodorant Packaged (12-Pack)Check Price Thetford 09852 Aqua-Kem – 32 oz.Check Price MrGreen RVM RV & Marine Holding Tank Treatment 34 ozCheck Price Happy Campers Organic RV Holding Tank Treatment – small 18oz jar (18-treatments)Check Price


Fire Extinguishers For Boats

fire extinguisher for boatThe Coast Guard, with good reason, dictates that every boat must have at least one fire extinguisher readily available at all times. In fact, here’s an excellent article that dictates exactly what safety equipment a boat must have: A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirement For Recreational Boats.

I’d insist upon a mariner fire extinguisher even if the Coast Guard didn’t set the requirement as it just makes sense to me. Yes, you’re surrounded by water when on a boat, and, yes, water is used to put out fires but, ah, not all fires. Also, how are you planning on getting that water out of the Bay and into your fire? See my point.

Now, I was a bit confused about the numbering system used by the Coast Guard regarding marine-type fire extinguishers. Here’s what I gleaned:

  • There are 3 different classifications of fire extinguishers – Type A, B, or C.
    Type A fires are those of combustible types – like wood or paper
    Type B fires are for flammable liquids like gasoline
    Type C fires are electrical fires
    Type D fires are for combustible metals like magnesium.
  • There are also different sizes of marine fire extinguishers – Size I or II or III (the larger the number, the more foam and chemicals to fight larger fires)
    Size I fire extinguishers contain 1.75 gallons of foam along with dry chemicals
    Size II fire extinguishers contain 2.5 gallons of foam along with similar dry chemicals

To further confuse the issue, there are additional ratings which say how large a fire the particular extinguisher will put out. The rating is 0.1 meters per unit. Therefore, if a boat fire extinguisher is rated 30-B, that means that it will put out a fire that is 3 meters square.

Take my word for it, just buy a big one!

Most recreational boats require at least one fire extinguisher. In fact, as the boat increases in size, the number of marine extinguishers also increases. Less than 26′, your boat would need just one class BI fire extinguisher. I prefer to have extras but that’s just m

So, I went looking and found some very good quality mariner fire extinguishers that are right there below. Remember, in this case, more is better:

 Kidde Mariner5 Fire Extinguisher for Class B and C boating firesCheck Price Kidde 420119 PRO 340 Fire Extinguisher Metal Bracket, Heavy Duty, Compatible with Kidde 5-Pound Fire ExtinguishersCheck Price Kidde 466204 Pro 10 MP Fire Extinguisher, UL Rated 4-A, 60-B:C, RedCheck Price Kidde 21006287 Auto Fire Extinguisher, 5BC, SilverCheck Price Shield Fire Protection 13315D Auto and Marine DISP 110vb Fire ExtinguisherCheck Price


Boating First Aid Kits

boating first aid kitA good boating first aid kit should be your second purchase after the boat. If you’re proactive like I am, a good quality boating first aid kit was actually the first purchase before the boat. That’s how important I thought it was to be prepared for health emergencies while at sea.

John will tell you (and I will agree) that there are two axioms regarding boating and boating safety:

1. A boat will bite you if it gets the chance (ergo the need for first aid kits….) and
2. If it can tangle, it will (I’ll deal with tangling issues in another post).

Since I’ve been hurt many times on our boat (through no fault of mine, you understand….), I’m always sure of exactly where on the boat the first aid kit(s) are stored. Why do I have more than one emergency kit? Because I bleed just as easily on the bow as the stern! I’ve wrenched my knee when a rogue wave hit once and had to ice the offending joint and wrap it in a compression bandage until we could get back to shore. And, need I mention how many times I’ve ended up stuck on the business end of a fishing pole?

A good first aid kit for a boat should contain basic items such as bandages, neosporin or antibiotic ointment, along with ace bandages, scissors, tweezers etc. The best boating emergency kit will contain additional room for you to store those items you prefer – such as immodium or seasickness pills.

 Orion Safety Products Coastal First Aid KitCheck Price Orion Safety Products Offshore Sport Fisherman First Aid KitCheck Price Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .7 KitCheck Price OUTDOOR FIRST AID KIT 201 PC FOR CAMPING, BOATING, FISHING, HUNTINGCheck Price Medique 40061 First Aid Kit, 61-PieceCheck Price Coleman Expedition First Aid KitCheck Price

Quick Reference Cards

boating reference cardI’d never heard of Davis Instruments Quick Reference Cards until a fellow boater mentioned them to me. Since I’m new to sailing, I purchased a few of these handy dandy reference cards which are the perfect complement to any boat’s helm.

Laminated in a heavy plastic and ready to be stored in a binder if you choose, the Davis Instruments Reference Cards contain information applicable for both beginner and seasoned boaters. These reference cards all contain the most important information – such as who has the right of way when 2 boats are near (hint: it’s always the less maneuverable boat who has the right of way – which means, get OUT OF THE WAY!).

So, here’s a selection of reference cards which would be a great gift for a new boat owner or anyone who wants to have a fast reference for the most important information.

 Davis Instruments Boating Guide Quick Reference CardCheck Price Davis Instruments Navigation Rules Quick Reference CardCheck Price Davis Instruments Weather Forecasting Quick Reference CardCheck Price Quick Reference Marine ElectronicsCheck Price Pocket Quick Reference Cards for BoatingCheck Price

Books on Living Aboard a Boat

namasteJohn lived on Namaste, his Columbia 8.7 meter sailboat, for 3 years prior to our meeting. He commuted happily from Deale, MD to Rockville, MD – about an hour drive on a good day. The commute was well worth the time though as he started his day on the bow of his sailboat with a cup of coffee and ended it on the stern with a cocktail. Can’t beat that.

In our first online chat, John regaled me with tales of what his life was like aboard his boat with his little pug, Matee (who was litter box trained!). He spoke of the challenges he had to overcome in order to live full time aboard the boat. He also spoke of the joy of his lifestyle

Now, 7 years later, there is a new Namaste sailboat (a MacGregor power sailer) and of course, there is me and my rooted (at the moment) lifestyle. Ah, but, someday in the nearish future, John will once again live aboard a boat as we sail the intercoastal waterway from Maine to Florida.

If you have a dream of living aboard a boat, here’s a few highly reviewed books on that can help you make the adjustment to a lifestyle on the water:

 The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat, Revised & UpdatedCheck Price Leap of Faith: Quit Your Job and Live on a BoatCheck Price All in the Same Boat : Living Aboard and CruisingCheck Price The Cruising Life: A Commonsense Guide for the Would-Be VoyagerCheck Price