By Karen Buhlergale
Basic Sailing and Seamanship: Save Your Keys
Drop your keys overboard at night and they're likely gone forever; unless you have them hooked up to the Waterbuoy.
An unsecured pocket, if you think about it, is really just a pouch with a motive, especially on a boat. Zipplerless, buttonless, sans Velcro, it’s only a matter of time before its secret mission is revealed: to dump the entire contents out its open, gaping maw. All this I tried to explain to Hubby as he slipped prescription sunglass, SPF 40 chapstick (with aloe), a hand held compass, and a sticky note with errands he hoped to do if he made it back to shore alive. (He’s from Vermont.) A brief snagging of a dinghy’s loose painter and he was hanging over the transom, freeing the line and watching his pocket stash plunk ignobly into the murky green sea and spiral out of sight.
I was entirely sympathetic. I had already lost sunglasses myself.
Not people to take being outsmarted lightly, especially by a pocket, we, first, A: quit putting things in our open pockets, and B: put everything not attached to the boat on a miniature buoy. No one and nothing was going down on our watch, not even our watch. Problem was the binoculars, the hand held GPS, the kids. They were heavy. Lifejackets worked for the kids, but were too big and bulky for the GPS and the binoculars.
Enter the inflatable key ring. Davis Instruments introduced its ‘Key Buoy’ (www.davisnet.com/marine/products/comfort.asp) in 2006 and won the MAATS (Marine Aftermarket Accessories Tradeshow) Innovation Award. “Waterbuoy” (www.water-buoy.com) from Seatriever International has gone one better. As the “World’s First and strongest intelligent miniature flotation device visible at night,” it not only holds 2.2lbs (1kg), it’s bright orange balloon is visible a mile off, it has an LED light that starts flashing with activation (for those night drops) and it stays inflated for 24 hours (though I am pretty sure I will have given up by then.) Best of all it’s tiny.
I have no doubt I will find a way to puncture the balloon with my boat hook as I am trying to haul it aboard, but the balloon is underinflated for the less deft , making it easier get a clean grab around its neck. All this wonder for about $22.00.
The sea giveth and the sea taketh away. But not as much as it used to.