Innovations For Your Boat

By Mark Corke

A little maintenance help, a little fun, and better connections. This collection of new products will make your time onboard better.

Stay A Step Ahead Of The Weather

Smartphones are a ubiquitous modern marvel, and recreational boaters typically have at least one of the many apps that offer weather information. While most weather apps are excellent, the cellular signal starts rapidly fading just 2 miles offshore.

SiriusXM Marine weather overlay

Satellite radio is a burgeoning industry, and because it doesn't require a cellphone signal, it can be accessed from anywhere. SiriusXM has 32 million subscribers who pay for commercial-free music in their car, home, or boat. What many don't know is that SiriusXM Marine provides real-time weather and fishing information that can be overlaid directly on a chartplotter, so you can literally see the weather as it relates to your boat. Or select your marine zone on the chart, pinpointing your exact location, and pull up the text of that radio broadcast allowing you to read it instead. Boaters can also see fronts moving toward them (updated every four minutes) and react accordingly. For anglers, SiriusXM's Offshore Sea Surface Temperatures shows where the water temperature change is, which often indicates where the bite is. BoatUS members receive a free two-month trial plus $100 receiver rebate (some restrictions apply) |

Lighten Up!

Engine room light

Many inboard engine spaces can benefit from supplementary lighting. Whether you're changing a set of spark plugs, undertaking an oil change, or just doing routine daily checks, being able to see clearly is important. The DuraLED 50LP from Hella boasts 850 lumens of bright white light and comes as either a spot or flood beam pattern. It offers a lot of power for its size: less than 9 inches long, 4 inches wide, and less than 1 inch thick. The fully sealed construction with ignition protection makes the light suitable for use in all engine rooms, and the use of LED bulbs as the light source means that this is a fit-and-forget item. Waterproof to IP67, it can shrug off occasional splashes, and with what the manufacturer calls "multivolt technology," it will operate on any DC voltage between 9 and 33 volts. $270 |

Make It Snappi


Have you struggled to get a cockpit cover off the boat because the snaps that hold the canvas in place are stiff? We've seen people try everything from lip balm to a dab of diesel to get the little beasties to cooperate, all with mixed results. Snappi essentially combines three tools in one. Flipping off the protective white plastic cover exposes three small teeth, which, when rotated on the stud, cleans and lubricates thanks to the special nonstaining oil contained within the tool itself. The tool is then reversed end for end, and the small abrasive pellet attached to the tool rotates to clean the female part of the snap. It's simple, effective, and works, well, in a snap! $24.99 |

It's In The Bag

TIWAL sailing dinghy

Keeping a sailing dinghy onboard for fun was once only the domain of larger boats with more deck space. Here's a solution to that challenge. The TIWAL inflatable sailing dinghy packs into two bags, will fit into the trunk of a small car, and can be ready to sail in less than 20 minutes. If you've seen inflatable SUP paddleboards, then you'll recognize the similarities in construction methods. Fully assembled, the boat weighs 110 pounds, measures 10 feet, 5 inches from bow to stern, and has enough buoyancy to carry two adults or one adult and a couple of kids. The fun comes in spades — top speeds of 10 knots have been recorded. $5,200 |

Grease Is The Word

Formula 88 degreaser and cleaner

Cleaning dirty parts, such as engines and other greasy spots, is one of the worst jobs on a boat. But a clean engine makes maintenance a little more tolerable, and if you do get an oil or coolant leak, you can spot it more easily. Formula 88 is hailed as a biodegradable, nonflammable, nonhazardous, and noncorrosive cleaner that can be used on just about anything to remove grease and greasy marks. I'm always a little skeptical of some manufacturer claims, but I was impressed when I tried the product on my own boat. I sprayed a little onto a grease-encrusted engine block, let the product do its thing for the specified amount of time, and wiped off the dirt with little effort. $19.80 for 2-gallon pack |

Rock And Roll


A gentle swell is one thing. But when you're trying to cast a line or eat lunch at anchor, a short chop or larger waves can be downright uncomfortable. Although Seakeepers have been around for years, the Seakeeper 3 is the first model designed for boats in the 30- to 40-foot range. Already offered as an option on new builds by some manufacturers, owners of large center-console boats are also choosing to retrofit the gyro, too. This model is the first in the range that operates on DC voltage, so no generator is required. The Seakeeper works by spinning a large flywheel in a vacuum at very high speed. This spinning generates torque, and the forces imparted on the boat damp out up to 90 percent of that uncomfortable roll compared to when the unit is not operating. The weight of the unit is not insignificant, tipping the scales at 550 pounds, so it's like adding an extra engine. Comfort comes at a price; you'll need deep pockets should you decide to fit one on your boat. $27,700 | 

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