Yacht owners' gadget guide

Everyone loves a good gadget. We teamed up with Yachtsandyachting.co.uk and asked their forum members what they thought was essential to have whilst out on the water.

If you're in need of a present idea for your favourite sailor or you just want to treat yourself to a new toy, the following 12 items should provide you with some inspiration.

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A Hand-Bearing Compass

Every yacht owner should have one as it's a great back-up mechanism. It's easy to read with a photo-luminescent light for night-time use and incredibly accurate (to +/- o.5 degrees) with a good field of vision. The neck lanyard reduces the likelihood of it going AWOL and it generally comes with a five year warranty. Prices start around £35.

Waterproof Bags

Another essential 'must have' item. Numerous brands, such as Aquapac, are available. They have super-strong seams and a clipping mechanism that keeps items dry if submersed. Useful holders for car keys, cash and credit cards, they have adjustable lanyards/neck-cords and will float if dropped in water. Prices start at around £15.

A Fox 40 Pealess Whistle

It's all plastic and there's no cork pea to disintegrate in the wet. Described by fans as 'nice and loud'. Although this may not be classed as a gadget, it is a 'must-have' item and a great stocking filler. Source online for around £4 and upwards.

A Mast Cover

Not so much of a gadget, rather an everyday essential. One for the 29er dinghy has been mentioned in despatches - it's described as 'neatly stowing the halyards, makes de-rigging easier and towing home less stressful'. Upon further investigation, there are a variety of covers available, in differing materials and colours, for specific purposes.

An Under Cover protects the hull, a Trailing Cover protects the craft whilst towing - as it has no openings for masts and shrouds it reduces the drag. A Flat Cover is suitable for towing and storage - it allows you to place the mast up or down and the halyard point in the centre stops water gathering. And finally, an Overboom is suitable for a dinghy that's kept in one place. Rain will run off this cover, reducing the likelihood of any deck contact and ensuring greater air circulation.
Prices range from £100 up to £185 for a 29er and with more damp colder weather coming upon us, it's worthwhile checking out whether your craft is adequately protected against the elements.

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A Rope Splicing Fid

The tricky job of splicing could not be completed without a fid or needle, so this is another 'must have' item. A single fid starts at around £10, whilst a stainless steel pack of five can be sourced online for around £50.

A Harken RigTune Pro

This gizmo accurately gauges the tension of rigging between 2.5mm and 5mm to the nearest kilogram, replicating the precise rig tension on differing tacks including wire rope, rod and the more modern zylon version (known as PBO). Favoured by racers who want to maximise their boat speed and performance, the Harken RigTune Pro will cost in the region of £170.

A Gerber Multi-Tool

There are a number of variations, but generally it's recommended to find one with a locking knife, replacement blades, screwdrivers (cross and flat-head), pliers, a bottle opener, wire stripper, mini crowbar and lanyard attachment. More basic versions start at £30 and can go up to £80.

A Shackle Key

This gadget will help those who don't have Herculean strength in their fingers to undo stubborn shackles. It's a multi-purpose tool which can be used on coined-head shackle pins. It has sockets for 1/16" and ¼" plain and nylon nuts and a screwdriver which is perfect for tightening small drain plugs. Source online for around £20.

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A Raymarine Tacktick Digital Micro Compass for Dinghy Sailors

And its counterpart - a Micronet Race Master for yacht enthusiasts. These waterproof wireless gadgets provide you with all the information you need, detailing wind, speed and depth data. Easy to set up and use and accurate to one degree, they're described as the ultimate tactical race compass and wind shift indicator. The Micro Compass is around £240 and the Micronet Race Master from £470 upwards.

A Casio Sea Pathfinder Watch

As well as being a useful time-keeper and stopwatch, it has numerous features including; built-in compass, thermometer, depth gauge and barometer. There's also a world time function and a LED light that activates when dark. A tip from past users; replace the plastic strap with a Velcro one, as the strap tends to break. Prices start at around £20.

The Optimum Time Watch is also recommended - similar to the Casio, but with specific countdown features that are in line with ISAF start procedures. With options to buy with a plastic or Velcro strap, it can be sourced for £23 or more.

GoPro Camera

The most popular gadget amongst sailing enthusiasts is the tiny, highly advanced GoPro camera. Described as the world's most versatile and one of the smallest action camera systems, this lightweight and yet powerful piece of wireless equipment allows you to easily capture and share videos whilst on the move. A number of models are available, dependent on use. These include helmet cameras and systems that can be clamped onto surfboards, masts or around your wrist or chest.

The latest release is the HDHero2 model which allows you to capture 10, 11 megapixel photos in one second and 0.5 second time lapse photos. More importantly, it's waterproof to 60 metres. All cameras have a 170 degree field of vision and there are a number of suppliers in the UK. Prices are from £250 onwards.


No Gadget Guide would be complete without a mention of Apple's iPhone. Currently described by Which? magazine as the best web browsing phone, the range of applications available for download increases year upon year. Current favourites include those for navigation, forecasts, tide times, racing rules and GPS speed. There's also a Sailmaster app which optimises your sailing and racing performance, or how about Knots, Splices and Ropework? This app, with 154 diagrams, shows how to tie certain knots and explains what they're for.

There's even a wind meter app - although this does involve standing on deck and using your iPhone microphone to gauge the wind speed - which could damage your phone in the process. It's described by users as pretty accurate though. At 59p per download, they're well worth a look.

Yachts and yachting forum members use GoPros to post their videos and numerous others can be viewed on You Tube.

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Thank you

Towergate Insurance and yachtsandyachting.com hope you find this Guide useful - many thanks to all those who posted up their recommendations.

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Yacht insurance from Towergate

For risk management advice from our experts and to buy yacht cover see our yacht insurance page or phone 0344 892 1987.

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About the author

Adam Summersby is a respected leader with 11 years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including caravan, site operators and excess reimbursement, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.