As if winter wasn’t long enough for us boaters, the fact that 2020 is a leap year means the dead of winter is one day longer this season. Then again, no true yachtsman or woman has ever let mother nature stand in the way of a boating adventure. Enter companies like Stormr, Helly Hansen and Gill Marine along with their latest foul weather gear to help combat your withering winter blues. Here’s a roundup of what we consider some of the best jackets for those winter yachting days.
Pro Tournament 3L Fishing Jacket. Photo by Gill Marine.
Gill Pro Tournament 3L Jacket
Gill’s latest hardcore weather jacket – the Pro Tournament 3L – represents years of research and rigorous product development. The company touts this new coat as the “greatest innovation in fishing jacket history”. Whether or not you’ll feel the same (we think you might), one thing is certain: this is apparel designed and constructed for some of the worst boating conditions possible out on the water.
“The Vortex Hood has a three-channeled construction with air chutes built into the hood itself,” said Matt Clark, Product Development Director at GILL. “Look at it in aerospace terms. With an airplane wing you get the vortex effect when wind travels faster over the top of the curved surface. So, over the top of the Vortex Hood wind speed accelerates and the air is sucked out the back of the hood.”
Of course there are a healthy number of other great options for foul weather fishing jackets out there, so let’s take a look at some more of our top picks.
Cabela’s Guidewear Men’s Angler Jacket
Cabela’s seam-sealed, waterproof Guidewear Men’s Angler Jacket with GORE-TEX® (which we tested first-hand in a recent unexpected, offshore downpour and can confirm kept us bone dry). “Cast freely while staying totally dry,” says Cabela’s website, and it’s basically true.
Simms Challenger Jacket
Simms’ infamous Challenger Jacket “runs fast in any weather” and features a proprietary shell fabric that is waterproof, breathable and very durable. The Challenger jacket also features a flexible 3-point adjustable storm hood for shelter from those wet offshore gusts as well as a zippered chest pocket for quick access to fishing essentials (it even has a kill switch attachment and an interior sunglasses chamois for keep your shades smudge-free).
Helly Hansen Chelsea Evolution Shell Jacket
If you’re really looking to exceed the known boundaries and push your inclement weather boating to the limit, you might consider Helly Hansen’s Chelsea Evolution shell jacket. This jacket combines the 3-layer Helly Tech® Performance fabric with ventilation zips and a comfortable, lightweight but durable design.
Stormr Strykr jacket
The last one we’ll mention on this list is Stormr’s Strykr jacket, which features Neoprene Core Technology that provides waterproof, windproof and highly-insulating qualities that set new standards in severe weather outerwear.
Whichever one of these fishing jackets you choose for your stormy weather yachting excursions, you’ll likely be happy with the results. They are all serious jackets for serious weather conditions, regardless of whether you’re inshore fishing or far out at sea.
What is the best kind of live aboard boat?
Like buying a house or renting an apartment, personal taste weighs heavy when choosing a boat. People sail around the world and live on vessels as small as 24 foot (7.3 M) and as large as hundreds of feet. Essentially, as long as the vessel is seaworthy, it is possible.
Determining your limits and expectations of the vessel will be big factors into finding the perfect boat. A few things that are worth considering are: the size of your crew, your location and sail plans and your budget. Getting these few things down on paper will allow you to eliminate potential vessels that just don’t meet your criteria.
Hull Designs: Monohulls Versus Catamarans
The design of the vessel plays a big part in the interior layout. It is well known that a catamaran will have much more space than a monohull of the same length, simply because it has two hulls instead of one and a large adjoining deck. This increased space is popular with live board families. Not only is there more space for the kids to run around but by allotting one hull for the kid’s cabins and one hull for the parents, everyone gets some much need privacy.
A monohull is a bit cozier, but you can still have privacy and comfort onboard too. A center cockpit design is popular with monohull live aboards as it usually means that there is a large, private cabin down below, tucked aft of the entrance and separate from the main living space and other cabins. This design is great for live aboard families, but many other people who sail like it because it allows them to host visitors onboard while giving them a bit privacy at the end of the day.
When considering a live aboard boat, it is easy to get caught up in cabin layouts and what mod-cons you’ll have onboard but there is one factor that should always be considered: safety. Making sure your vessel is as seaworthy as it is comfortable can mean the difference between living your dream or suffering a nightmare.
What is the best location to live aboard?
For most people the word boating conjures up scenes of sun-kisses beaches, clear blue skies and palm trees. In reality, boats can go anywhere there is enough water to float them. From the hot and steamy tropics to the frozen high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic, it is possible to live aboard just about anywhere in the world. That is, as long as you and your vessel are prepared!
There are many easy add-ons and modifications that can make life onboard a little more comfortable, wherever you choose to live. A large bimini or a boom tent can provide shade for vessels in tropical locations. Full cockpit enclosures with see-through walls or windows are popular with boats spending time in cool or rainy climates. Adding insulation and a space heater is essential if you are planning on toughing it out somewhere for the winter.
One of biggest advantages of life onboard is that life is not stationary. Not only is it possible explore the area close by, it is also possible to travel the world with all the comforts and familiarity of home.
What is the cost of living aboard?
The cost of living on a boat varies greatly depending on your lifestyle. For instance, eating ashore is always more expensive than preparing a meal onboard, and staying a marina costs a lot more than anchoring for free. There is one major factor that contributes greatly to the cost of living aboard, and that is location.
Many people choose to live aboard in foreign countries simply because the cost of living is lower. Everyday expenses and provisions like food and fuel are often a fraction of the price of those same commodities in North America or Europe. Add to that the fact that anchoring is almost always free and monthly expenses can be significantly lower that life on land.
Another key factor in monthly costs onboard is the skillset of the crew. A boat demands constant maintenance and creative problem solving. Having a crew that is able to make repairs, or at least is willing to learn, will cut down on the cost of having to call in an expert who works on an hourly rate.
A good starting point is knowing the basic workings of outboards and diesel engines. Having basic sewing skills comes in handy, as does general knowledge about paint, fiberglass and power tools. If this all seems a little overwhelming at first – take a deep breath! There are lots of course available to new boaters wanting to expand their abilities, as well as a supportive and helpful community of boaters worldwide that are always willing to help.
Can you live aboard at a marina?
Yes, it is possible to live aboard at a marina, however some restrictions may apply. In the USA requirements vary from state to state however there are a few basics followed, even internationally. Most marinas require vessels to have a working holding tank so that no toilet waste can be pumped overboard. Wanting to keep the grounds clean and visually appealing to guests, some marinas have strict rules about what is allowable on deck. For instance, prohibiting boaters from hanging laundry out to dry on the lifeline.
Marina charge for berths based on the vessels LOA (length-over-all). This fee is quoted as a set amount per foot or meter – i.e. $2/foot. Catamarans are usually charged this LOA fee multiplied by 1.5 or 2, as they can occupy two standard berths. Additional charges may include power, water, access to onshore bathroom and shower facilities, dinghy dock fees and key deposits.
In the USA there is often a cap on the number of boats allowed with live aboards in any one marina. So, if you are planning on living onboard it is best to inform the marina before taking a berth that you are planning on living onboard and to ask about any rules or restrictions they might have.
Can you get mail as a live aboard?
Long gone are the days of receiving hand written letters and care packages from family when arriving in a far-flung port. Even if we live on land most of us have eliminated the need to receive mail thanks to electronic billing options, digital subscriptions and online banking. Yet, mail can still be an essential service when it comes to receiving parts and supplies.
If you decide to stay in one place it is very easy to receive mail while living onboard. The simplest method is simply to open a post box at the post office or subscribe to a mail forwarding service that will collect your mail on your behalf.
Another solution is to send mail to your marina office. Many marinas are happy to receive mail for their guests, either permanent live aboard or those visiting from overseas. It is also common to contact a marina at your next destination and have mail forwarded while you are at sea, especially if you are in need of parts or are sailing on a tight schedule.
If you are traveling somewhere without a marina or shoreside support, it is still possible to receive mail world wide using the long-established service of Post Restante. Sending something post restante, or general delivery as it is called in North America, means that the item will be held at the destination post office until it is collected, or until one month has elapsed. Addresses, charges and proper labelling guidelines can be found online for almost every country in world.
If you are importing goods or parts, it is important to know duty and import fees of the country where you are receiving mail, or you may end up with a costly surprise at the post office. Boats can often get import fees waived as goods are not technically imported into the country but going on your “vessel is transit.” Specific documents and proper labelling are required, so make sure to research your destination.
Can you have TV and internet onboard?
The answer to this question would have been very different 12 years ago when we moved onboard our boat. Back then it was free to air TV channels and searching for WIFI signals at local hotspots, cafes and marinas. Options for having internet access at sea were slow and extremely expensive.
These days, thanks to dramatic technological advancements, it is possible to be online and connected almost everywhere you travel. Smart phones and tablets have replaced bulky laptops, and on demand services like Netflix and YouTube have all but replaced scheduled TV programming.
Most countries, especially developing countries, rely on mobile phone networks as it is easier and cheaper to install cellphone towers than it is to run phone cables. This generally means that there are now fewer and fewer places that you can truly be out of touch. SIM cards are widely available and usually inexpensive, and prepaid services that include talk time, text messaging and data usage easy to access.
Internet access at sea is still difficult and if you’re cruising more than 10 miles offshore you’ll need to get satellite service to access the internet. Marine satellite internet service is a maturing industry, and once out of range of cell towers, connectivity depends on the satellite’s signal. The price tag for such services is often cost-prohibitive for most boaters, especially if you’re wanting to surf the web and stream video or music. However, gadgets like the Iridium GO and Garmin InReach now allow users to stay connected via basic internet services, location reports, weather reports and international text messaging without breaking the bank.
How do you get power?
Most live aboards have renewable energy strategies in place to meet their power demands. Advancements in onboard solar panels, hybrid solar propulsion and solar power gadgets such as rechargeable lights and power packs makes living off the grid easy and now affordable. As well many boaters install wind generators to harness power when sailing or at night, when solar panels do not work. There is also the option of a tow generator that produces power while underway.
Some live aboards rely on generators, either portable gas units or more powerful built-in diesel set ups, to provide electricity they require. As well, like in your car, the engine is equipped with an alternator which will provide power when the engine is running, either when the vessel is underway or in neutral at anchor.
While at a marina it is possible to plug into shore power. The power outputs and plug configurations can change from country to country so it is important research where you are going, and requirements to plug into shore power at your location.
All of these options make power that is stored in a battery bank onboard, similar to charging up an electric car or golf cart. As many live aboards will attest, it is a constant dance to keep the batteries topped up, devices charged, the fridge cold and the lights on.
What do you do for water?
Every boat has built-in water tanks; however, the capacity of those tanks varies greatly. In the old days it was common for live aboards to fill tanks when visiting a marina or a fuel dock, or to ferry water from a community well ashore. With limited tankage it was then necessary to ration water usage onboard to conserve their supply. Plumbing salt water into the galley to wash dishes and taking salt water showers were both common ways to cut down on fresh water usage.
These days more and more live aboards are installing reverse osmosis watermaker systems that can convert salt water into clean drinking water. These systems not only allow boaters to be self-sufficient, but they alleviate the need to burden shoreside water supplies in remote places. An important consideration if travelling to destinations that rely on rain catchment, as climate change is making rainy seasons less predictable and shorter in many areas. Water conservation is still habit with most live aboards, watermaker or not.
Living on a boat will require an adjustment period if you are a life-long landlubber. The biggest change most people struggle with is downsizing their life, possessions and expectations, to fit into the compact dimensions of a boat. The process can be difficult, but in the end, most enjoy the freedom and lightness that comes with paring down the clutter and discovering what is really important to them. Life as a live aboard is its own reward./>
Heather Francis gives us an insider’s look at the live aboard life and answers some frequently asked…
Soft Storage Sacks
Boat design is all about the carefully conceived curves, so rarely will you find nice, neat square storage space. Using a container that has hard, angular edges can further reduce the volume of an already tight storage area. Opting for a soft sided bin or basket means the container can conform to the odd shape of the hold. In dry compartments, try a soft canvas or mesh bag. For potentially wet storage areas a sturdy roll-top, waterproof gear sack will keep goodies safe.
With the advent of silicon there are now a variety of collapsible storage bins on the market. These pieces are a handy addition, allowing the convenience of having many luxury items onboard without cluttering up cupboards. Full-sized bowls, measuring cups, salad spinners and washtubs all accordion down flat and can be stacked and stowed in small spaces when not in use.
Folding Tables and Chairs
Often times common areas on a boat are multi-use. The cockpit, for instance, needs to be a functional space while underway but it is a favorite hangout spot when on anchor. Having a folding table, whether it is a built in or completely removable, allows you to enjoy a meal under the stars as well as make room for crew to work while the boat is moving. Folding chairs stow easily but accommodate extra guests around the table. The salty, marine environment is harsh, quickly corroding items that may last years on dry land. When buying folding tables and chairs check that the hinges are durable, and the item is made out of high quality stainless, aluminum or plastic.
There is always a spot on the wall, a strange-shaped nook or a cupboard door that could be utilized for storage simply by adding a hook. Hang keys, bags, hats and other everyday items on a hook for quick access. Adding a few hooks in the head makes for a spot to hang a dry towel, and a hook by each bunk is a great spot for an in case of emergency, easy to reach flashlight. If permanently affixing a hook with screws is undesirable, look for heavy duty 3M removable hooks that don’t require tools and won’t damage surfaces.
Popular on boats since boats started floating, small hammocks are a terrific way to store items such as clothing and blankets when not in use. Usually made out of netting these hammocks make the most out of empty spaces. Taking up very little room when not in use they expand and accommodate any shaped items, stowing them safely in a conveniently reached spot. Many people also use net hammocks in the galley to store fresh fruit and vegetables instead of taking up precious fridge space. Net hammocks do allow for more airflow around your produce but softer fruit such as peaches, pears and summer squash may be cut or damaged by the thin net strings.
Usually partitioned and designed for use in a closet to store items such as shoes these handy organizers are great on a boat. Pretty enough to be hung within sight they make a great spot to store towels in the head, a place to stow soft toys in a kid’s cabin or hung in a closet to keep clothing tidy. Hanging organizers are also a neat way to keep the crew items corralled while underway. Simply colour cod or number each nook and every crew person can have a place to put small items when not in use.
Trying to maximize storage space means making use of every available nook and cranny, including the ones directly overhead. There are purpose-made bags on the market like the “T-Bag” that are designed to attach to the underside of a t-top or bimini. Large enough to store items like life jackets and safety equipment that are needed in the cockpit, they provide a spot to stow gear out of the weather but within easy reach. If there is head room down below utilizing overhead nets or bags is also a cleaver way to stow light weight items like bed linens or clothing.
Whether it’s on a rail, the wall or over a door, a hanging pocket is a handy way to keep things tidy. Used to keep lines in the cockpit from being dangerously underfoot, the anchor rode from becoming tangled on the bow or a pair of binoculars within reach of the helmsman. Made out of canvas or a weatherized mesh, hanging pockets come in a variety of colors and sizes. Turn the back of a sliding door into a wall of pockets to store shoes, sunscreen, gloves, even fishing lures. Placed in the head, pockets can instantly organize crew toiletries and be a spot to hold precious jewelry items while showering or swimming. Use a hanging pocket in the galley to make frequently reached for condiments, snacks or coffee mugs easily accessible. There are never too many hanging pockets on a boat.
At first glance a pillow doesn’t seem like it belongs in this list, after all pillows can take up a lot of space. However, making a pillow do double duty turns it into a super space saver. Stuff pillow cases with extra or unused bedding, clothes or towels to keep the cabin tidy and give people a soft spot to lean. Choosing pillow cases that accent the décor of the boat will ensure that even the most discerning guest won’t guess your secret storage solution.
Heavy duty or industrial Velcro is an easy way to keep small items from sliding around while underway. Self-adhesive and customizable to any shape Velcro pads can be stuck by the helm to keep small gadgets within sight of the captain or used to secure delicate items down below. Velcro can also be used on vertical surfaces, keeping décor items like photos firmly in place. Strong enough to keep overhead panels stuck in place or chair backs in proper position Velcro is a heavy hitter when it comes to storage solutions onboard.
Need to compress large items like bedding or store seasonal clothes? Vacuum bags to the rescue. Buying provisions in bulk but want to preserve the freshness of half your order? Vacuum bags to the rescue. Need to ensure that items like flares and the emergency medical kit in the ditch bag are waterproof? Vacuum bags to the rescue. Available in sizes ranging from 8” x 10” to suitcase-sized, vacuum bags are an amazing, and extremely versatile, storage solution. Vacuum bags not only compress items by removing air but also seals them in a heavy-duty air-tight, and waterproof, bag. When opened the items like clothes and bedding are dryer-fresh. Foodstuffs that are vacuum packed are not only free of bugs and moisture but removing air prevents spoilage and extends potential shelf time. For the avid fishermen a vacuum packer is the quickest and easiest way to portion and preserve the days catch. Items frozen in vacuum packed bags are less prone to freezer burn.
Perhaps one of the best storage solutions for the galley a magnetic strip is both handy and unobtrusive. Mounted on a bulkhead a magnetic strip is the best way to keep knives out of harms way. Strong enough to keep items secure in a rough seaway magnetic strips are also a convenient place to stow a pair of scissors or a bottle opener. Mount one in the cockpit and keep fishing lures from becoming tangled or falling underfoot, not to mention keep the fileting knife ready for action. Some magnetics strips are sold with a selection of metal canisters which provide a convenient way to sort spices in the galley or keep small items like nuts and bolts tidy in the tool kit.
Used to gather and hang lines in a storage hold, tie down odd shaped equipment or keep canvas from flapping in a breeze bungee cords, or shock cords, are indispensable on a boat. One stretched around a storage bin or long a wall makes a spot to tuck flip flops. Use a bungee to hang a roll of paper towel or create a spot to hang sunglasses so they won’t get scratched. Stretch a bungee cord overhead to make an instant clothes line to dry a wet towel after a swim. Fasten a length of shock cord along a wall at regular intervals to create a custom storage solution for hand tools like screwdrivers or a spatula in the galley. A bungee cord never stays idle on a boat.
Hanging Glass Racks & Cup Hooks
Once only found in your favorite local pub, hanging racks are now common place on boats. Used to store drinking glasses these simple metal racks install under cabinets or overheads and add a touch of class to any boat. Hanging stemware not only frees up precious cupboard space but delicate glassware is stored safely in an easy to reach spot. Cup hooks are traditionally mounted on the underside of a shelf or cupboard and are a way to store more durable items like coffee mugs.
Nesting Pots and Dishes
Cupboard space in the galley can quickly get taken over by dishes and cookware. One easy way to maximize galley storage is to invest in dishes that neatly stack and pots that nest inside one another. No need to break the bank at the chandlery, although there are lots of thoughtful products available there. Simply keep storage in mind when you are choosing pots and pans – make sure they stack together neatly, avoid long handles on pans and lids, look for a pot and pan that are the same diameter so one lid can be used on two items. For dishes choose low profile plates and make sure they are small enough to fit inside the cupboard, many galley storage areas are narrower than a typical dinner plate.
It seems impossible to live without handheld gadgets these days, and it doesn’t take long before there is a tangle of cords clogging up the counter next to the nearest outlet. To avoid an unsightly mess, and to charge as many devices as possible at once consider installing a dedicated charging station. Designed to hold multiple devices while tastefully hiding all those USB cords, charging stations are a cleaver way to stay charged up and clutter free. For an even more boat friendly solution, turn a drawer into a charging station. The stack of devices will be out of sight and won’t fall off the counter while the boat is in motion.
Custom Built Options
Sometimes the best option is one that is tailored to your specific needs, especially when it comes to getting the most out of storage space on a boat. Tables that fold against a bulkhead walls, a sofa that conceals a built-in fridge, a lift away counter top that hides the onboard bar. If you are in the market for a new boat, then exploring what custom storage options each design offer could buy you a few more square feet of usable space. And, for those who are already boat owners, custom modifications can mean the difference between boating in chaos or living clutter-free.
Think Outside the Boat
There has been a trend in recent years to downsize and declutter, to live with less and do more. With an increasing number of people choosing to live in small spaces there are more products and storage ideas for those spaces. Yes, there are a few more obstacles on a boat- items have to be secured for sea and often need to be waterproof – but don’t get stuck at the local marine store. Many of the storage ideas used by RV-ers and Tiny Home owners are perfect fits for boat storage as well, you just have to think outside the boat./>
Here are a few tried and tested Space Saving Storage Solutions to make stowing your boat a pleasure rather…
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