Do you have a boater on your list this gift-giving season and haven’t a clue what will bring them joy? No worries – whether your boater is a sailor, cruiser, racer, or fisherperson on a center console, wakeboat, pontoon boat or motoryacht, there’ always something that will add to their fun on the water. Let’s look at some of the latest products in all kinds of categories.
Above: The perfect gift for the boater in your life can make the off season a bit more exciting. Photo by ND3000 on Pond5.
ACR Electronics ResQFlare
Any boat with a motor has to abide by a set of safety rules and required equipment is outlined by the U.S. Coast Guard. Nearly all must carry a visual signaling solution and that means flares. There are different requirements for different vessels so things get complicated and the flares eventually expire, needing to be replaced. But now you can use a cost-effective, high intensity electronic distress signal in lieu of pyrotechnic flares.
The ACR ResQFlare meets USCG requirements for nighttime visual signaling, is waterproof, floats and is visible for over six miles depending on conditions. It emits Morse Code for S-O-S or can strobe with a 20-hour life. It’s compact, lightweight, easy to use, durable and comes with a daytime visual signaling distress flag too. It has a user replaceable battery so it doesn’t expire or need to be replaced and will serve for many years. It’s a key safety item for any vessel.
Approximate Retail Price: $80
Teak Isle Ottoman Entertainment Caddy
Above: The Pontoon Ottoman By Teak Isle. Photo by Teak Isle MFG.
If your boaters has a pontoon boat then the Teak Isle Ottoman Entertainment Caddy will be the perfect entertaining accessory. It can hold an entire party securely while snugged up onto an ottoman. This compact unit provides space for four wine glasses or coffee mugs, four skinny cans or water bottles, a wine chiller (or a 2-liter bottle of soda), extra wine bottles or cups, corkscrew, cheese knife, and two cellphones.
Measuring 24” W x 10” D x 9” H, the caddy has a non-skid mat to prevent sliding on the upholstery. It’s made of maintenance-free King StarBoard with stainless fasteners, is available in a variety of standard colors, and can be set on any surface because it also has feet so it can be used on many other surfaces than just an ottoman.
Approximate Retail Price : $325
KastKing Filet & Bait Knife
For the angler in your life, there’s never enough knives aboard. KastKing is known for the quality of their knives which come in 5-9-inch options. They’re made of durable German stainless steel with a razor-sharp edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other so they’re great for a variety of onboard duties. The ultra-thin blade is flexible so it works with you to follow the natural contours of your catch.
These knives slice through frozen bait like butter, you can cut chunk or cut plug bait quickly and the gut hook makes quick work of fishing line. KastKing offers a variety of tools at affordable prices and is highly rated. The knives come with a “locking” self-draining sheath and a non-slip polymer grip.
Approximate Retail Starting at: $22
EveryDayBoater Cuda Blue Mirror Sunglasses
Above: Affordable EveryDayBoater Cuda polarized sunglasses. Photo by EveryDayBoater.
Everybody needs good eye protection aboard because the glare from the water, sails and white decks can be brutal – and very damaging. Salty boaters know to carry multiple pairs in case one goes in the drink so stock up with EveryDayBoater glasses. Each style comes in four lens colors including blue, green, grey or amber and provides solid protection well beyond fashion glasses.
The TR-90 plastic frames and premium polarized glass lenses are lightweight so your boater will be able to wear them all day, and have a rubber nose pad, case, strap and microfiber cleaning cloth. They have a limited lifetime warranty and they provide 100% UVA and UVB protection. The Cudas are sized for small to medium sized heads, so they’re perfect for women but there are other larger styles to choose from as well.
Approximate Retail Price: $119
Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv
Today’s multifunction displays (MFDs) combine cartography with sonar and radar support so it doesn’t matter if your boater is a cruiser or an angler, they’ll be thrilled with Garmin GPSMAP 1243xsv MFD. Designed for a wide range of dash configurations, the GPSMAP 1243xsv has an edge-to-edge glass display that can be bail-, flush- or flat-mounted and offers a reduced footprint over previous models. It features a high-res IPS touchscreen for maximized viewing from all angles, even with polarized sunglasses.
This 12-inch MFD features built-in high-definition SideVü and ClearVü scanning sonars with Garmin’s vivid color palettes and supports 1-kW CHIRP traditional sonar. (Transducers sold separately.) It also supports radar and the award-winning Panoptix LiveScope sonar. Preloaded BlueChart g3 coastal charts and LakeVü g3 inland maps give users the best of Garmin and Navionics data so your boater will catch fish all day and then be able to get home safely in the evening.
Approximate Retail Price: $2,900
inteliPlug Vault Drain Plug
If you or the boater on your list hasn’t dropped and lost a drain plug, it’s only a matter of time. Most plugs are made of metal so they sink out of sight quickly and can be expensive to replace and also hard to tighten due to their circular design. Now inteliPlug has developed a triangular polymer plug with a half-inch NPT thread that is patent pending. The shape gives it an ergonomic grip that allows boaters to tighten and loosen the plug without a wrench and the threads and a back up O-ring provide a secure watertight fit. The best part? The plug floats so even if you do drop it, it won’t disappear into the depths. Manufactured from durable marine grade ABS, the Vault is engineered to work in all applications including saltwater and is supremely affordable.
Approximate Retail Price: $15
Torqeedo Travel 603
Above: The Travel 603 portable electric outboard engine from Torqeedo. Photo by Torqeedo.
The world is going electric and that includes outboards for tenders, canoes and small sailboats. Torqeedo, Germany’s leader in marine electric propulsion, has been building outboards for years and their latest is the new Travel 603. This two-horsepower, direct-drive, short shaft motor is the lightest in its class, weighing just 34 pounds including the battery.
The 603 has plenty of torque but is the quietest outboard on the market. It has an integrated high-performance lithium-ion battery rated at 500 Wh and is the perfect answer when the mothership uses diesel and you don’t want to carry gasoline aboard.
Approximate Retail Price: $1,999
EFOY 80 and 150 fuel cell
There’s never enough power on a boat for all the toys and necessities. But extra batteries can be heavy and bulky and hard to charge. Introducing the EFOY (which stands for “energy for you”), fuel cell based on methanol technology. It converts methanol (that comes in a fuel cartridge) into electrical energy with impressive efficiency. The cell recharges an EFOY lithium battery and comes in two smaller sizes, EFOY 150 and 80, which are perfect for use on small boats or when camping.
EFOY is small, lightweight, virtually silent, basically maintenance-free and it produces only water as a byproduct. It can provide 12V and 24V power, and you can use an inverter with it to charge AC electronics.
Approximate Retail Price Starting At: $3,000
Towing Membership from BoatUS or Sea Tow
Stuff happens and sometimes boaters get stranded. On-water towing is expensive so it’s best to have assistance like a AAA of the waterways. There are many outfits that provide assistance and towing but two of the largest providers in the country are BoatUS and Sea Tow.
Peace-of-mind starts with 24/7 assistance and no out-of-pocket costs for soft ungroundings or being towed back to the home slip. Both companies offer a Gold membership but they differ slightly in their benefits. You’ll need to read the offers and exceptions carefully and also learn who has the dominant presence in your boater’s local waters to choose which will work best. There are other plans available for both.
Between: $119 – $179
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you can get your boater (or would-be boater) a new boat. Sea-Doo just introduced the revolutionary Switch that’s part Personal Water Craft (PWC), part pontoon boat, and all fun.
The Canadian builder has really set the boating world on its ear with this introduction. This craft is a tiny toon with the heart of a PWC and you even drive it like a PWC with handlebars instead of a steering wheel. Powered by a Rotax jet engine, the Switch has a deck made of configurable LinQ quick attach tiles so you can arrange your “furniture” any way you want – only the helm is stationary. There are 100 ways to configure and personalize your boat as you change up the seating, table and various accessories like a cooler.
There are models available from 13 to 21 feet and an option for a 150 or 230-hp jet drive. The best part? It starts at just $18,000 so if your boater has been very, very good, this may actually be a real gift option.