Gift ideas for people going on a sailing trip
March 17, 2013 3:38 PM   Subscribe

My parents are taking off in a couple of months to go sailing for a year. I'd love to get or make or do something for a farewell present, but I have no idea what. Help!

They'll be leaving in early/mid-May, sailing from Houston around Florida and up the East Coast for a while. After that, they'll sail down the East Coast, aiming for the Caribbean. This is about as much of their itinerary as they have planned. I know they're intending to spend some significant time in and around the Chesapeake, as my dad's long wanted to sail there, and that they love cruising around the British Virgin Islands, which they've done on 10-day charter cruises before.

They've been planning this trip for years, and it represents a major life change: they've sold their house and most of their stuff, and my mom especially is apprehensive about being so far away from her family and community for a year or more. When they finish the trip, they'll be moving to a completely different state from where they live now. I would love to find some way to honor and acknowledge this major event, and possibly provide a sense of connection as my mom leaps out of her comfort zone.

If they were traveling on land, my ideal would be to make up a kind of care package for each major stop, with letters, grandchildren photos, maybe a favorite snack and a small activity (new yarn), plus ideas of unusual or off-the-beaten-path things to do in that destination. I also considered a digital photo frame that I could e-mail pictures to, but it appears that no one makes those anymore.

Major constraint: 30 foot sailboat. There's very, very little storage space. All their books are e-books. My mom has one sweater box that she's allowing herself to put her knitting in -- when she finishes a pair of socks, as soon as she can, she'll mail them to a friend who has instructions to mail her more yarn (when they know they'll be near a post office). Often, they won't be someplace where it's easy to get mail, and they may not even be in US waters. Even Internet access will be spotty, although they will be doing their best to communicate as their itinerary develops, especially before and after long stretches of sailing.

I'll be seeing them in person briefly before their trip, so I can give them things then (although they'll need to be able to carry them on the plane), or mail them to the marina in Houston where they'll be sailing out of. They're annoyingly good at just getting themselves the stuff they want (waterproof camera, awesome sailing hat, etc.).

Any ideas, oh magnificently creative Mefites?
posted by linettasky to Shopping (9 answers total)
posted by mollymayhem at 4:08 PM on March 17, 2013

And also previously.
posted by lollusc at 4:08 PM on March 17, 2013

Because of the space constraints and how they good they are at buying the stuff they like, your best bet might be to buy them the "acknowledgement" gift when they get back, and for the "trip" part of the trip just do your best to keep in touch with them as much as possible - I bet real physical letters at every port would make your mom feel good. Your care package idea sounds nice. I would put my energy into making that happen as often as possible. This is something for which a "stuff" type gift isn't the best kind of gift.
posted by bleep at 5:24 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about a journal?
posted by bq at 5:27 PM on March 17, 2013

Will they have laptops? Do you have kids? Record your kids reading short stories or singing songs or talking about school or asking questions about the trip--whatever is age appropriate and put it on a flash drive. Do the same of yourself, but maybe pick short memories to talk about. Light-hearted, of course, nothing too confessional!

If your parents aren't taking laptops, you could buy a iPod shuffle and put the recordings on there. It will hardly take up any room and your parents might appreciate listening to someone else's voice now and again while at sea. It won't be quite the same as a real, current letter/phone call, but it's close.

Otherwise, I'd just focus on sending cards when the friend sends yarn to the drops and planning a nice welcome home.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:55 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe one of those battery-operated electronic picture frames loaded with hundreds of photos? You could enlist friends and family to scan/email images from their collections as well. Maybe you could figure out how to retrieve old family photo albums from wherever your parents stored them and include some choice images from these sources too.
posted by carmicha at 8:13 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Having gone camping for 9 months in Oz I didn't need lots of kit. Rather, I used a small selection of stuff a lot. But what I *loved*having was: a single wok-like frying pan that could take abuse: used every day. A great all purpose chopping knife that can take abuse. A small chopping board with rubberised underside to prevent slipping. I also loved having my rechargeable light that I could hang where I needed it because tents and boats never have light exactly where you want it all the time. The only other things that really mattered were top quality shorts, which got worn a lot. And good quality flipflops, again, worn a lot. We also bought some conversation starter cards for those endless days when we bored ourselves and got the starter cards out and discussed an aspect of the meaning of the life and what we thought. It was surprisingly more fun and instructive than I'd thought.

Finally - often overlooked: a good pillow. The temptation when there isn't much space is to buy lightweight versions of things. Fine. But not your pillow. You're going to spend x hours sleeping and y hours lounging against it.

I suspect as long as they make port they will find some internet access. If so, you could make them a blog. Make it look pretty. Host it. Maintain it. Show them how to use it. That way they can keep family and friends up to date en masse, which is a huge timesaver for them, and they get a fun place to store their best photos, memories, stories and so forth.

If not, then I'd make them a collage of some really nice photos of things that means something to them and laminate it, or better, make a set. I did for a family member who served in Iraq. He loved it.

You say they're all up to date on tech. Has someone put all their music onto digital media so they can take it with them? Do they have an idiotproof and waterproof music system? Do they have a solar powered charger? When we were travelling and camping we listened to a lot of music.

Finally, finally: do they have a waterbuoy for attaching to keys? A bheestie bag for drying out electronics? Sugru for adapting fixing stuff? A good headtorch? Are their phones in decent cases?
posted by MuffinMan at 5:29 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do they read? Kindle with tons of books!

Enjoy reading, playing games, drawing, etc.? iPad!
posted by barnone at 5:43 AM on March 18, 2013

Is there a satellite Internet connection you could get for them? That way, you could be in touch via email and send pictures, if their e-reader is Internet-enabled. You could also go to a good marina and see if there's any safety gear that they don't have. When you know they'll be in a particular port, gifts of local (home) food items, local newspaper, etc., can be very welcome.
posted by theora55 at 4:56 PM on March 21, 2013

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