The Boater's Holiday Gift Guide

By Mark Corke

Half the problem of holiday shopping is the pressure of figuring out just what to buy to thrill the boater in your life. Here are a few ideas.

Metal Fish 66

Want something to brighten up your den or office wall? One of these metal sculptures could be just the thing. Each is individually hand-crafted from stainless steel by Cuban-born artist and Florida resident Armando Hevia. The colors aren't painted on; instead, they're imparted into the steel by a heat treatment. Suitable for either interior or exterior decoration, each piece comes complete with mounting hardware. Prices vary, but an 18-inch by 9-inch Tuna costs around $225 |

Breitling Emergency

Here's a bit of bling from top watchmaker Breitling that could save your life. This watch, dubbed the Emergency, should be on every best-dressed boater's gift list. Combining a precise chronograph with a 406-megahertz personal locator beacon, it's just like a watch that James Bond might wear. Unscrewing the extendable antenna built into the watch turns on the beacon. Fully FCC compliant, the watch could prove a hit with offshore voyagers. $16,475 |

Crew Jacket

What? Forgo style when the weather turns nasty? Not necessarily. Women will like the fitted Helly Hansen mid-layer Crew Jacket. Waterproof, windproof, and breathable, it's perfect for summer showers and cool evenings. There's no hood, but the high neck helps keep water out and the wearer warm. Available in a choice of eight colors, the jacket is fleece lined, quick drying, and machine washable. $160 |

Lemon & Line

Men and women will both like the look of these distinctive bracelets, which come in a range of colors and styles. The Newport collection is made from braided line with a square knot on the front of the bracelet. The stainless-steel hook-and-eye fastener appears robust and elegant without being clunky. With an attractive price point, these make great gifts for kids and for officemates. $25 |

Steelheader Orange Suregrip

Do any serious fishing, and you know you need a good fillet knife aboard. Cheap knives just don't cut the mustard, let alone the fish. To be useful aboard, a good knife should stay sharp, resist corrosion, and have a comfortable grip. The blade on the Suregrip is shorter than on many fillet knives (just 5.75 inches), but don't let that put you off. This knife is built for hard work. There's a full tang with brass rivets, and finger grips prevent bloody or wet hands from slipping. A nylon sheath protects the knife when it's not at work. $59.99 |

Nettle Net

On a hot summer day, is there anything finer than jumping off your boat into the water to cool off? But get stung by a jellyfish, and you could be spending the afternoon icing down a burning, itching welt. Nettle Net is a simple, smart solution, especially for kids. Suspend an 8-foot net, which is sealed at the bottom, from an inflatable tube. The fine mesh allows water through, but keeps biting and stinging things on the outside, while you swim and relax on the inside. The Nettle Net is available in a variety of sizes, and when deflated, the smaller one takes up no more room than a football. $499 for the 8-foot version |


Many electric bilge pumps rely on a float switch. It's simple technology: Water in the bilge lifts the switch, turning the pump on. Nevertheless, float switches aren't without problems. They can get stuck in the on position, burning out the pump. Water sloshing in the bilge can cause unnecessary cycling, and because they sit almost constantly in water, corrosion and electrical failure are common.

Nautic Alert has introduced Nevata, an electronic unit with no moving parts designed to be mounted above the waterline, on the underside of the deck or sole board; should it get a dunking, the unit is waterproof. Utilizing ultrasonic technology, Nevata continuously monitors bilge-water levels and turns on the pump when needed. Features include self-calibration, pump-cycle counter, and built-in high-water siren. $580 |

Nautical Scout Cookware

Finding space in the galley to store pots and pans can be tricky. Traditional cookware rattles and eats up storage space. These collapsible pots — made with stainless-steel bottoms, along with food-grade silicone top parts that reportedly can withstand temperatures up to 450° F — could be the answer. Cleanup should be a snap, too, as food won't stick to the silicone. Put this cookware together with an offer to make dinner on board, and this gift is totally a boater's win-win. $44.99 for the 5-cup teakettle |

Shurhold Combo Brush

Let's face it, no one enjoys cleaning the boat. Shurhold's Combo Brush should speed things up. Basically, it's a two-in-one brush with long, soft bristles for general cleaning. But then apply extra pressure, and stiffer bristles take over for stuck-on messes. A solid wood base a with wraparound bumper prevents damage to paint and gelcoat. The Combo Brush fits any of Shurhold's handles, which are sold separately. All you need to do to make this gift perfect is to add a "gift certificate" saying that you'll handle the washdown for a month! $33.98 |

Clean Way Fuel Fill

Splashing fuel can stain decks, pollute the water, and can mean you'll spend some time cleaning up after filling up. This handy gadget ensures that fuel ends up in the tank where it belongs, not dripping on the boat or (gasp!) into the water. Internal baffles prevent splashing while allowing air in the tank to escape as you fill. Insert the Clean Way into the gas or diesel filler, followed by the fuel-fill nozzle, for speedy and mess-free fill-ups. Adaptors are included to suit a variety of fuel-fill deck-fitting sizes. $98 |

Gecko Grip

Stuff slides around on boats, and don't we know it. For those times when wedging an item in place or screwing it down aren't options, placing it on a nonskid pad often works. Originally designed for preventing pots, pans, and cutting boards from making an exit from the galley, the Gecko Grip's nonskid properties have tons of uses aboard. A set of these under a TV or stereo, for instance, should do the trick in all but the roughest of conditions. Textured bumps keep supported objects clear of the underlying surface and allow air to circulate. $11.99 for a pair |

Simrad GO7

Why pay for features you don't need? We hesitate to call this a stripped-down multifunction display. But the stand-alone GO7 is perfect for smaller boats and center-consoles. This 7-inch multi-touch display has a built-in GPS, with no external antenna required, so right out of the box you can literally connect up the power and start using it to navigate. With a sounder module also housed inside, connecting up a transducer (sold separately) is a piece of cake. The touch-screen display is simple to use, and the lack of buttons delivers the glass-bridge look at an affordable price. $799 |

Hawkeye Digital Sonar

There are two standard ways to check the water depth aboard your boat: a lead line, which is cheap but inconvenient, or a built-in depth sounder, which is accurate but expensive. Here's a third way. About the size of a flashlight, the handheld H22PX from Hawkeye can measure depths up to 200 feet. The digital display also measures water and air temperature, and a fish indicator helps you find the big ones. Point it out to the side and you can use it as a side-scanning sonar, perfect for finding the drop-off when searching for fish. The unit runs on AA batteries, is waterproof, and comes with a lanyard so you can toss it in the bottom of the dinghy as you explore a new anchorage or search for the perfect spot to pull the dink out onto the beach. $99.99 | 

— Published: December 2015

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