I have found a light that's safe, rechargeable, water-resistant and doesn't use batteries. It's also remarkably designed.

Solar lights have been around for a while, but I always think of those solar garden lights on spikes for sidewalks. Solight-design (tm) has created an amazing product called SOLARPUFF (tm). It fits in the palm of your hand and is virtually weightless.

My immediate thought was "How great for a boat!" because it folds flat and, when open, has a velcro handle you can attach anywhere - the mast, in the cabin, or a lifeline - or on top of your SUP! The light settings are low, high and flash. The basic product produces a white LED light, but there are others that have colors. An 8 hour charge in the sun will give you 8 - 12 hours of light. Better than your phone.

Here's how it works:  

  Hold the bottom, pull up on the handle and it pops open.  Press the on/off button on the bottom. BINGO! You've got light!

 Hold the bottom, pull up on the handle and it pops open.
 Press the on/off button on the bottom. BINGO! You've got light!

Its astonishing simple design won it a place in the Museum of Modern Art. But it took years to arrive at its beautiful, safe and transportable origami style box. And it was Alice Chun, the creator, who realized after the Haiti earthquake that the world needed an alternative to unsafe kerosene.

What separates SOLARPUFF from other companies is their commitment to provide this light to communities with no access to electricity like  Haiti, Nepal, Syria, Ghana and more. Alice and her company have graciously offered to readers of this blog a 10% discount with the code StarboardTack10 at www.solight-design.com . There are discounts for multiple light purchases as well. And you can donate to one of the countries on their site to send Solarpuffs.

I can't imagine NOT having a few on your boat, in your emergency kit or even in your car. A quality product in design and materials, it's a small green way to feel connected to the rest of the world.


Posted on September 23, 2016 and filed under what you need.

GETTIN' JIGGY WITH IT...Learning to sail

Back in the dark ages we learned how to sail in a 13 1/2 for sailboat called a Blue Jay.

 I don't know who this Jay belongs to but if YOU do let me know so I can give credit...   

I don't know who this Jay belongs to but if YOU do let me know so I can give credit...


You might be more familiar with its big brother, the Lightning. At 19 feet and a foot wider, the Lightning was not only a racer, but also a family boat. Our Lightning was Adios, #4695. 

The Blue Jay was the preferred club boat, the training boat, all wood and just the right speed for 7 to 10 year olds. I have a soft spot for these now old-fashioned boats. They required loving care over the winter, and, with a mainsail, jib and spinnaker, it was a lot of sails to drag around! 

But the training was invaluable - there's something to be said for learning to sail and race with 3 eight year olds in a small space. They're still around - some used as frostbiters and other for families who really enjoy the specialness of these little gems.

Now most clubs train in the Optimist - affectionately know as an Opti.

I freely admit that I don't "get" these snub-nosed little dinghies, but if it gets someone sailing, that's what matters.  

But i want to talk about the NEXT step:

What is the transition boat? What happens next? How do you keep these kids excited about sailing and racing? Oh - just you wait...

Check out the video:


Do you know about these boats??? I saw them first in this video and I was blown away. Of course I wanted one but I'm too big (on ALL levels).  I've watched this video about 25 times. 

There were a lot of 'em...sailing fast, standing up and surfing around the mark - WHAAAT? No worries about capsizing (in a Blue Jay it was complicated), hose 'em off when you're done - throw them on a hand dolly and you're off. 

I'm a staunch advocate for youth sailing. Self-esteem, respect, good conduct - those qualities stay with you your whole life. I do wonder about sailing so much alone. How do you learn to be a crew? or sail with a crew? There are lessons to be learned there as well. And yes - these boats are made by the pen people, BIC. you can check out other watercraft at www.bicsport.com

So what did you learn to sail in? Let me know and tell me what you think of that video!




Posted on August 8, 2016 and filed under what you need.