Holiday Gift Ideas

By Mark Corke

Looking for some inspiration for the boater in your life? Or, would you just like to buy something for yourself or the boat? Here's a smattering of seasonal ideas.

A Reel Catch

Shimano's Stradic FX spinner reel created quite a buzz at this year's ICAST. The Stradic is a reasonably priced spinning reel that's available in a range of five models to suit freshwater fishermen and beach-casters alike. Machined from aluminum with a waterproof finish that makes water bead up and drop off, the reel is as good to look at as it is at catching fish.

The body design is called G-Free by Shimano and apparently moves the center of effort of the reel closer to the rod for smoother operation with less hand and wrist effort as you reel in that big one. Approx. $180 to $220, depending on model |

From Boardroom To Yacht Club

Boaters can be hard to buy gifts for, but almost anybody will love the nautically inspired Sail range from Rule#5, which includes a rugged waxed-canvas backpack and dopp kit in addition to the wallet and messenger bag shown here. Adorned with signal-flag motifs on the outside and nautical chart-design linings, the bags will show your love for the aquatic lifestyle even when you're not on the boat. Messenger bag $150, wallet $70 |

Stay Connected

One of the best things about being out on a boat is casting off the tethers of modern living. There are times, however, when you just have to stay connected. Cell service can be spotty as the boat swings at its mooring, and Wi-Fi drops out at just the wrong moment, if you even can get connected in the first place. Setting up a mobile hotspot on your boat is one option, but the WL70R Wi-Fi extender from Digital Yacht is about as simple as it gets. It consists of a 4-foot high antenna that connects to a wireless router belowdecks. Unlike similar systems, the router is DC-powered so you can run it straight from the boat's batteries. Using a simple interface, you can connect to Wi-Fi hotspots located up to several miles away from your boat's location to pull in that free Wi-Fi signal from the coffee shop or marina with ease. $449.90 |

Duck, Duck, Fish!

Lures don't always have to be under the water to catch the best fish. If you're looking to catch such freshwater fish as catfish and pike, then this little fella, the 3D Suicide Duck, which looks more like a bath toy that a fishing lure, could be just what's needed. With two feather-covered treble hooks, one on the belly and one on the tail, this top-water lure looks just like a baby duckling. There are two attachment points for your line — one on the beak and another on the belly — to give slightly different swimming positions for the duck as you reel him in. Yellow flippers, which look like webbed feet, rotate and give the appearance of swimming to any fish that may be looking, and the bubble stream created by the spinning feet bring fish in to the open water from covered swims. $15.99 |

Plug-and-Play Display

One of the benefits of the NMEA 2000 standard is that networking all the onboard electronics together is simple — just one cable is required for data and power. With data being shared among all devices in the network, adding a display is about as simple as it gets. Raymarine's i70s display, which was introduced this year, features a backlit, daylight-viewable 4-inch display that can be customized to suit individual user needs. Want to display speed? Check. Depth? Check. Position? Check. Rudder angle? Check. If the data is available on the network, the i70s can display it. And with its user-customizable menu, you can display only the information you need. $479.99 |

A Touch Of Charm

Commemorate a favorite anchorage or cherished memory, and keep them close to your heart, with the Peltro Leeward Locket from Chart Metalworks. The 1-inch satin silver-finish pewter swing locket, made in Maine, comes with a matching 30-inch curb chain. The locket is customized with a map or chart of your special place, which is coated with layers of resin to create a dome. Add up to two photos or memorabilia of choice using the enclosed template card for a truly one-of-a-kind gift. $95 |

50 Feet Of Freedom

Lanyard-style engine cut-off switches can be awkward: You can't move far from the helm without them popping off and shutting down the engine, which is a royal pain if you're fishing or doing some other activity on the boat that requires you to move more than 2 feet.

To that end, Fell Marine has added another wireless lanyard to the market, pioneered by Autotether. The MOB+ xFOB has a 50-foot range and can be worn like a watch, on a dongle around your neck, or simply slipped in your pocket. (The xBAND and xTAG holders are sold separately.) But fall over the side or move outside the 50-foot range, and the motors shut down. | MOB+ Basepack (includes MOB+ xHUB to install in the boat and xFOB to wear) $179 |

Small But Mighty

ICOM M93D Handheld VHF radio

One of the best pieces of safety equipment you can carry on board is a VHF radio. With it, you can call marinas and boatyards, listen to weather broadcasts, check in with your buddies on the water, and call for help in an emergency.

While a fixed set offers the best performance in terms of range and power, a handheld VHF makes a good backup. The M93D from ICOM has a power output of 5 watts, weighs less than 10 ounces, and has a large backlit LCD display that shows not only which channel you are tuned to but also your position, speed, and the capability to store up to 50 waypoints. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, there should be plenty of power to last all day. But the features we like the best are that the radio is waterproof, it floats, and has an automatic strobe light to help you locate it should it go overboard. $349.99 |

Soggy Smartphone, Be Gone

Smartphones are invaluable on boats for more than just phone calls — as a navigation tool, slip finder, and anchor alarm, to name a few. And with the BoatUS app loaded, it is the fastest way to call for a tow, should you break down. Unfortunately, they aren't designed for a life afloat: They need to be kept dry, and it's more than inconvenient if you drop it over the side.

While not the most stylish, the DryCase is one of the best we've tried. It has a secure closure, and the manufacturer claims that it will keep a phone dry for more than an hour at 100 feet down, so you know it will be fine swimming in the bottom of a wet dinghy for the ride to the beach. $39.99 |

Close To The Vest

Spending a day on the water often means taking a bunch of stuff with you. Sure, you can pack a small bag to carry keys, a cellphone, and all the other paraphernalia it's impossible to travel without these days. But drop the bag over the side, and the day could be ruined before it's even begun.

The Sportsman's Vest is one of a range of garments for the outdoor enthusiast. The vest has 24 pockets that allow you to carry just about everything you need. The hardwearing, windproof exterior coupled with a soft quilted lining is sure to keep you warm when the day is less than balmy. $195 |


While locking boats, removing wheels from trailers, and other measures do much to deter thieves, they're no guarantee that your boat will not go AWOL. The SPOT Trace is a small device, just over 2 inches square, that can be discretely attached to your property to alert you via cellphone app to any movement. The satellite-based system is unaffected by poor cell service, which allows it to be tracked almost anywhere — also handy for peace of mind when family members are out on the water. $119.99 (Additional monthly or annual plan required.) | 

— Published: December 2016

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