Sailing Gear Review: GooLoo GP37 Jump Starter

Some of us sailors sail because we like simplicity and disconnection from all of land's technology. But there's some technology that's just too useful and convenient to be left behind. The new wave of small, portable lithium ion jump starters are just such technology.

It wasn't all that long ago that I was carrying around one of those heavy (>20lbs) old school jump starters that's essentially like stocking an extra group 26 12-volt battery. The thing I love most about of the new lithium ion jump starters is their compact size and light weight. The gooloo gp37 I recently tested weighs in at a svelte 1.1 pounds and is smaller than a masonry brick, so portability and stowage aren't a problem. What sets the GP37 apart is its' power. This little jump starter packs a peak advertised current of 600A, with a more realistic starting current of 300A. Those numbers are a bit lower than the old school heavyweight jumpers, but they're on the high end for the small lithium ion jumpers. In fact, GooLoo says the GP37 will start gas engines up to a 6.2L V8 or a 5.0L diesel. Of course that's dependent on other factors, but the bottomline is that the GP37 packs plenty of punch to jump a sailboat's little diesel or your dinghy's electric-start outboard. I did find one reputable YouTube video showing the GP37 jump starting a 4.0L gas Jeep with no 12 volt battery even installed, so you should be able to lend the GooLoo to powerboaters too if you run across any stranded with dead batteries and no sails to make it home!

While the primary safety function of a jump starter is getting your engine started when your batteries are dead, if you're like me, you'll use them even more often to recharge other portable electronics like laptops, iPads, phones, etc. With a capacity of 15000mAh, the GP37 was able to fully charge my iPhone 6 Plus from a completely drained battery to 100% over 4 times before the jump starter itself needed recharging, which takes 5 hours.

Along with the jumper starter itself and battery cables for jumping with built-in protection against incorrect hook ups, you'll also get a multifunction LED light built-in to the GP37, a wall charging cable, a cigarette plug charging cable, a set of 8 laptop charging adapters, and a 3-in-1 USB cable with cables for 10-pin Apple products, an Apple Lightning cable and a mini USB. Basically, there isn't an electronic device that I own that won't hook up to the gooloo gp37.

So clearly there's a lot to like about this little GooLoo jump starter, but are there any negatives? Well, it doesn't appear to be weather or drop proof like the NOCO Genius Boost I reviewed earlier. The connections are fine, but they aren't rubberized and there is no IP65 water resistant rating, so be careful where you store this jumper onboard.

Overall this is powerful and compact jump starter that serves well as a charge for onboard portable electronics too. It's a no-brainer at about $69.

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Picture This: Haulout Blues

Haulout Blues (Photo by K. Walters)

Though below me I feel no motion
Standing on these mountains and plains
Far away from the rolling ocean
Still my dry land heart can say
I've been sailing all my life now
Never harbor nor port have I known
The wide universe is the ocean I travel
And the Earth is my blue boat home

(Lyrics from Blue Boat Home by Peter Mayer)

Gear Review: Pelican 20QT Elite Cooler

As sailors, many of us are acutely attuned to energy conservation while onboard and away from the dock. In other words, we don't like running a generator or our engine to recharge batteries just to keep the refrigerator going if we can help it. And even if that's not your mentality, I'm sure you could still use some extra cold storage space as provided by quality cooler.

This summer, we used Pelican's 20QT Elite Cooler at the dock, on the dinghy and while sailing/cruising on a routine basis. This is one well-built and tough cooler. You'll get your first clue about those attributes when you pick it up because it's heavier (16 lbs empty) than you might expect for it's relatively modest dimensions. In fact, it weighs much more than standard Igloo and Coleman coolers that have twice the capacity and a quarter of the price. The benefit is that Pelican Elite coolers can stand up to harsh treatment and easily serve double duty as a bench/seat.

But why are they so heavy? First, the polyethylene they're made from is a dense material. Second, the side walls are thick and heavily insulated. Third, the hardware is almost all quality stainless steel instead of flimsy plastic. That all adds up to a cooler that gets the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's "bear resistant certification". Yes, that's right...this cooler has been intensely impact and penetration tested by captive grizzlies. And the press & pull latch makes opening it tricky for ursine paws and claws.

The thick side walls, heavy insulation and lid with gasket all also help these coolers maintain maximum ice retention. Pelican claims "up to 10 days" but my own use of the 20qt version puts that figure at a more realistic 24 hours in normal summer use. If we packed the cooler in the morning with ice and beverages, about 1/3 of that ice still remained 24 hours later on most summer days here in the Great Lakes. I'd love to have 10 days of ice retention, but even 24 hours is an improvement over our previous coolers. To be fair, we would like get better ice retention if we pre-chilled the Pelican Elite by bringing it into air conditioning and loading it with ice the night before use. Also note, the 20qt version that we have is the smallest available, so larger capacity Pelican coolers will likely have better ice retention.

This cooler has a few other features I really like. For example, the built-in bottle opener and integrated cup holders on the lid are not novel ideas, but they are immensely practical. I also like that the flip-up handle on the top locks the cooler lid you don't have to worry about spilling when you pick it up. The thick rubber feet on the bottom four corners prevent the cooler from sliding around, particularly when we have the cooler functioning as a middle seat in the dinghy.

What don't I like? I really wish this cooler had a drain, even though Pelican's literature says to resist dumping water because it acts as additional insulation and blocks airflow. As I said, these are heavy coolers and flipping them over for draining isn't as practical as a drain hole would be, particularly if the cooler is full of beverages and other perishables that you don't want to spill or unload.

So what's the bottom line from SFLF on Pelican Elite Coolers? If ice retention and portability (i.e. lightweight) are your priorities, do some comparison shopping first. But if you want the best built, toughest coolers we've ever encountered with above average ice retention, these are a safe bet. Yes, this cooler is expensive at more than $250, but it's likely the last 20 quart cooler you'll ever purchase. Remember, Pelican guarantees them for life against breakage and defects in workmanship.

Dimensions for the Pelican Elite Cooler 20 Quart
exterior: 20.12" x 15.07" x 14.12"
interior: 14.75" x 10.00" x 8.75" (0.75 cubic feet)

The Secret to Having it All

"The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do."

Is it really that simple? I suppose it very well could be. The catch to that fun little statement is that it requires a commitment to contentment. I love a good quote (as you can tell from the intro's to the majority of the posts on SailFarLiveFree), but this one challenges me deeply. There are moments when I let my guard down and realize that all I need is already right there in my grasp. But then there are other moments when I'm conflicted by my dreams, my desires, my possessions and the knowledge (false?) that I lack some things. Sometimes I feel like I lack physical possessions, but there's a lot I'm still striving for emotionally and spiritually too. If I'm totally honest, I'm not convinced that I already have it all. Which is probably why I don't. This is all very circular!

This is having it all, right?

So without getting too metaphysical, I thought I'd put together a list of quotes claiming to contain the secret to life/happiness and simply let you be challenged. Does any of this relate to sailing? For me, the answer is a resounding "yes" since sailing seems to be a metaphor for happiness in my own life. For you? You'll have to decide.

"The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage."

"The secret to happiness is to do what you like. The secret to success is to like what you do."

"It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy."

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything."

"The secret to a happier life is to learn to feel comfortable with uncertainty."

"Be with someone that makes you happy."

"The secret of life in two words: Resist nothing. Accept reality (it already happened!) and move on with you day."

So what's your secret to life? Share it below in the comments.

Sailing Product Preview: Renogy Lycan Powerbox

"Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow." - William Pollard

I'm a bit paranoid about power on our sailboat. We've got 3 group 24 12 volt deep cycle batteries, a quality high-output alternator and a variety of solar panels (2x 7w, 1x 14w, etc.) but we still don't run the refrigerator unless the engine is running and we're without AC accessories (such as fans) when we're away from the dock cruising. The options for alleviating these woes for sailors have traditionally been bigger solar panels (100w+), noisy wind generators, towable hydrogenerators and gas powered portable generators such as the Honda eu2000i.

Now it appears there's going to be another option that provides much of a gasoline powered generator's benefits without the noise, pollution and necessity to carry a highly flammable and explosion fuel to keep it powered. Renogy has been running an Indiegogo campaign (very successfully, I might add) to fund development and production of the Lycan Powerbox, a portable solar storage solution that should be an attractive consideration for cruising sailors.

So what exactly is the Lycan Powerbox? Picture a 18" x 10" x 13" box on wheels with output ports (2 x 12V DC, 3 x 110V AC, 3 x 2.4A USB, 1 x 1A USB) to handle just about any device or appliance you're likely to have onboard. While it does weigh 60 lbs, that's still comparable to the 45lbs dry weight of the Honda mentioned above and the size makes it just about perfect for storage in cockpit lazarettes. The Lycan Powerbox can be charged via a solar panel, a 12V socket or AC wall outlet. Charge times are: ~9 hours w/ 100W solar, ~3 hours w/ 300W solar and 7.5 hours w/ AC power. Interchangeable lithium-ion phosphate batteries with a lifespan of over 2000 cycles make it all work. Supposedly, you simply plug in and the Lycan does the rest.

The best part for sailing and boating? The Lycan Powerbox is waterproof so it should handle life on deck. It's also silent and emissions free so you won't be the boat that spoils a peaceful anchorage for your neighbors.

There's still time to get in on the Indiegogo pre-sales. The Lycan Powerbox alone is $1099, while it can be bundled with a 100W solar suitcase and charge controller for $1499. I haven't tried the Lycan for myself, but I'm hoping to get one for testing in August and will have a full review at that time. Stay tuned!

See more in this YouTube video: