|Sundowners at Sundown (by K. Walters in Punta Gorda, FL)|
"We all walk in the dark and each of us must learn to turn on his or her own light." -Earl Nightingale
Flashlights are seemingly simple devices charged with a straightforward task of providing light on demand. The new Pelican 7000 LED flashlight is my favorite for three reasons: brightness, toughness, and size. Pelican says this pocket-sized flashlight puts out 602 lumens of intense LED light. In fact, this is the first tactical light from Pelican to break the 600 lumen output barrier. I don't have a way to test for lumens and frankly, I'm not sure what a lumen even is. But what I do know is that this flashlight is seriously bright. In fact, bright enough to be used for a spotlight. For some perspective, two other very impressive lights I've tested in the past (Inova XO3 and Streamlight Waypoint Spotlight) put out 200 and 300 maximum lumens each respectively. So the Pelican 7000 is indeed very bright.
|Pelican 7000 LED Tactical Light|
And it's perfect for use on a sailboat because it carries an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning it can withstand being submerged to 3.25 feet for 30 minutes. While it does have an integral belt clip, I'd like to see a lanyard so I could keep it securely attached to my PFD during deck work. Build quality feels and looks excellent. The aluminum case and polycarbonate resin lens make this a durable yet very lightweight (5.6oz w/ batteries) pocket-sized (5.31" in length) light.
I suppose this is also a "smart" flashlight too since it has four programmable modes: high, medium, low, strobe. I'll probably just keep mine programmed to simply turn on in "high" mode with the single push button on the bottom of the flashlight. There's also a battery status mode to check how much juice you've got left, but accessing it requires an awkward sequence of half-presses of the button. Speaking of batteries, the Pelican 7000 LED is powered by two CR123 Lithium batteries. These aren't exactly cheap and possibly not always readily available in foreign ports, so you might consider switching to rechargeable CR123s depending on where you'll be cruising.
Programmable modes and the lack of a lanyard aside, if you seek a bright flashlight that's as tough as your crew, the Pelican 7000 is up to the task. This isn't your Harbor Freight or Dollar Store variety LED flashlight, so it shouldn't come as a shock that the Pelican will set you back ~$70.
Ready to get your own Pelican 7000?
|Get it here on Amazon and support SFLF.|
"I'm back to my deck shoes with holes in the toes. Fish on the line, sails in the wind. Cooler of beer on beach with my friends. Back in the sunshine again."
- Lyrics from "Back in the Sunshine" by Jim Morris
I knew it was going to be an epic getaway when one of our friends said, "I could pee on her, but it would smell like coffee and feel less weird if Kevin did it." So, I reluctantly mustered up the courage and wrung out a kidney in an empty water bottle. I then proceeded to pour my pee on my wife's neck and shoulders.
Does urine really take away the stinging from a run-in with a jellyfish or is that a myth? Scientific American says it's a myth, but we were nearly 5 miles offshore and Erin's shoulders and neck were on fire from the man-o-war she just snorkeled through. Actually, Erin's analogy was that it felt like someone was putting out a pack of Marlboros on her skin. The good news was that she didn't show signs of going into shock, so a golden shower seemed like a decent option to quell the pain. None of us had any better ideas.
So yeah, I peed on my wife. I can cross that one off the bucket list now. Myth or not, my "remedy" did provide some temporary pain relief until Erin dipped back into the water to rinse off her shoulders. Eventually the burning/stinging went away on its own, but Erin's skin showed marks for a week or more. Her ego recovered too.
Regardless of potentially dangerous sea life and urban legend cures, we still had a blast that day snorkeling at Alligator Reef Light and Cheeca Rocks.
|No man-o-war can keep this crew down!|
Later in the week we rented kayaks and a standup paddle board at Key Largo's Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to meander through the maze of mangroves. Hannah actually had to lay prone on the SUP to sneak through a few low and narrow passes, which she relished. The middle of the paddle was highlighted by a visit from a friendly and curious manatee who grazed on mangrove leaves from Isabel's hand as we all quietly watched. For a polar opposite to sailing, we finished the week by renting jet skis for a circumnavigation of Key West by water. Amazingly, Soleil actually fell asleep while underway. Usually it's Izzy that falls asleep when we're out sailing, but somehow the salt spray and fast, bumpy ride over the waves was the secret elixir for Soleil.
I confirmed for myself that the Keys would make for an excellent sailing cruise someday. Shoal draft would be a necessity for all of the tucked away anchorages and gunkholes I spotted. Awareness of channel markers and a reliable plotter are another must, both on the Florida Bay side where mangrove islets and shallows lurk and the ocean side with its abundance of reefs and rocks. Good fishing, excellent snorkeling/diving, quiet backwaters and lively waterfront bars seem to be a way of life down here. And Sandbar Sunday brews from Islamorada Beer Company on the sandbar with friends is an ironic treat.
We're thankful to have created some wintertime fun-in-the-sun memories with close friends to go along with all of the summers we've spent together over the years since we started sailing.
"The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe." - Gustave Flaubert
So true. My writing forces me to examine my beliefs and my inner thoughts. That's free therapy and part of what I enjoy about blogging.
But I learn just as much about my own beliefs from reading what others write.
And so, it's that time of year again. No, I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions, fruit cake or boat shows. It's time to give some love back to the sailing blogs I've enjoyed following during 2014 and look ahead to other blogs that should provide new cruising adventures in 2015. (Need to catch up on the best blogs from 2013 or 2012? What are you waiting for!?).
SFLF's Best Sailing Blogs of 2014:
Sailing Totem: The s/v Totem crew has been cruising and blogging since way before 2014 and probably should have showed up on my annual "best sailing blogs" list sooner, but nonetheless, here they are. Inspiring stories, practical tips and destination information - That's how Behan describes her sailing blog. To that, I'll add honest and family focused. If you're looking to follow a family and learn the rewards of cruising with kids, take a virtual sail on s/v Totem.
Get a feel for Sailing Totem with this post: Finding Bliss in Stagnant Cruising
Where the Coconuts Grow: Lots of cruisers don't like rules. Many leave land to escape them. But Jody and Peter's 80/80/80 rule is ok by me! It goes like this - They strive to cruise where there's 80 degree air temps, 80 degree water and 80 feet of visibility for snorkeling/diving/swimming. If you're looking for a tropical escape through your computer screen, Where the Coconuts Grow delivers in spades. And they cruise with their two (2!!) dogs, so bonus for pet lovers.
Get a feel for Where the Coconuts Grow with this post: Welcome to Carriacou - A Wild Ride
John Vigor: If you like beautiful pictures and fancy graphics in the blogs you read, you might want to skip John's blog since he has neither. But if you do skip it, you'll be missing some of the most practical sailing knowledge available from an accomplished author and sailor. John's signature blog post finish is always "Tailpiece" - a quick and usually humorous joke relating to the post. He's also originally from England (now living in Washington state) so you can read his posts with a British accent for added entertainment!
Get a feel for John Vigor's blog with this post: Ideas Changes with Age
s/v Delos: Every year there seems to be a cruising boat and crew that attains rock star status in the blog community and this year Brian and crew have been the ones on stage. The Delos crew cruise the way many of us would when we were younger, even if just for a day or two. Parties, moonshine, nekkid swimming...it's all there aboard s/v Delos. Bonus - The Delos crew also produces some excellent and very entertaining videos about their cruising escapades that are shown on their YouTube channel.
Get a feel for s/v Delos with this post: The Manila Experience
Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell: Surfer, solo sailor and environmentalist Liz Clark makes another appearance on my "best sailing blogs" list because quite simply, she rocks! This may well be the most honest and deeply passionate sailing blog on the planet.
Get a feel for the Voyage of Swell with this post: Hovering Neon Droplets - A Moment Between the Sea and Me
Attainable Adventure Cruising: John Harries' website is much more than just a blog. It features a ton of how-to resources and articles for offshore sailors written by offshore sailors (up to at least 3 authors contribute to the blog). There are some traditional travel log type blog posts on John & company's sailing adventures, but Attainable Adventure Cruising also serves as a great collection of informational resources on everything from rigging and storm tactics to plumbing and passage planning. ATT is even collaborating on the design and production of a new "affordable" (if $200k qualifies as affordable) back-to-basics voyaging sailboat called the Adventure 40.
Get a feel for Attainable Adventure Cruising with this post: We Are Not "Captains"
MJ Sailing: Here's a lively and inspiring young couple from my hometown and homeport who started their sailing journey in 2012 on the Great Lakes as green as the spring grass and have now explored the Atlantic Ocean on both sides. They've recently upgraded to a new-to-them aluminum sailboat and are currently (January 2015) on passage crossing the Atlantic again, this time from the Canaries back to the Caribbean.
Get a feel for MJ Sailing with this post: When Everything Works Against You, It Sometimes All Works Out
LAHO Wind: Sailing is very photogenic. From light dancing off the water and beautiful mountains rising from the sea to spray filled action shots and sun soaked anchorages, it's easy to find appealing subjects for a photo. But it's not easy to have the shots come out looking like they belong in a coffee table book. Enter Kim and her adventures with Jereme from LAHO Wind. New cruisers for 2014, these two have been thoroughly enjoying a run through the Bahamas and Puerto Rico while sharing it all quite masterfully through Kim's camera lens. That's not to downplay her writing (it's approachable and entertaining), but her photography is simply the best you'll find on any cruising blog.
Get a feel for LAHO Wind with this post: All Business in Georgetown
Up and coming blogs - Cruisers who have recently begun or will begin their journey in 2015:
Skelton Crew: Another homeport favorite. Ron and Jackie are deep in the preparation stage of getting their sailboat and lives ready for departure from Lake Michigan during the summer of 2015.
s/v Smitty: The to-do list for the crew of s/v Smitty is getting smaller and smaller. Looks like October 2015 is their planned departure date.
Sundowner Sails Again: I'm a longtime Sundowner Sails Again follower. They've done a remarkable job restoring and outfitting their Westsail and now it's time to reap the rewards. Congrats to Dani and Tate for cutting the dock lines! Read along as they leave Louisiana behind.
Project Atticus: Here's a fresh fix-it, learn it, sail it blog complete with plenty of videos. Desiree and Jordan spent a portion of 2014 finding and fixing their Allied Seawind. 2015 should bring sailing and and adventure.