2018 Boaters' Holiday Gift Guide

By Mark Corke

Buying gifts for the boaters in your life can be a unique challenge. Our editors created a shopping list of goodies to consider.

Dry Ditty Bag

Best known for its excellent range of well-insulated hard coolers, Yeti makes other products, including a variety of dry bags — perfect for watersports enthusiasts. The Panga 50 is the smallest in the range of Yeti duffels, and it's perfect for keeping items clean and dry as you head off to the beach in the dinghy. The bag measures 10 inches in diameter and about 24 inches long. There are handy carry handles at either end and shoulder straps so you can wear it like a backpack. Yeti claims that the bag is submersible, and that even includes the heavy-duty full-length zipper. Constructed from thick, reinforced gray nylon material, the bag looks like it can stand up to a fair bit of use and abuse. $299.99 | yeti.com

Smart Use Of Time

Casio's waterproof PRO TREK Smart Watches caught our eye. Right out of the box there's tons of functionality available. A simple press of a button scrolls you through compass, tide information, times of sunrise and sunset, and barometer. The built-in GPS function could also prove handy when out on the water for a quick position update. Users can download apps for Wear OS by Google to suit their lifestyle (separate purchase may be required). Available in a range of styles and colors. From $399 | wsd.casio.com

Casting Far And Wide

If you have a freshwater fisherman in the family, check out the range of Legend Glass Casting Rods from St. Croix. These one-piece rods come in a variety of lengths from 6-foot-10 to 8-foot-8, have ergonomically designed one- or two-piece handgrips, and feature a moderate action. The smallest rod weighs a mere 4.9 ounces, so you should be able to hold that puppy all day without fatigue. Designed for crankbaits and other lures, the shaft is made from S-glass coated in a bright finish. All rods come with an impressive 15-year transferable warranty. From $240 | stcroixrods.com

Legend Glass casting rod

Warm And Toasty

L.L.Bean Hi-Pile Fleece Jacket

Wrap your loved one in warmth with the Hi-Pile Fleece Jacket from L.L.Bean. Available in sizes for the whole family, the jacket is made from a super-soft, plush polyester pile that retains body heat when the temperature dips. Other features include a stand-up collar, a full-length zipper, and hand-warmer pockets. Lycra binding on the cuffs and hem keep breezes out, and the chest pocket with snap closure (on adult sizes) is the perfect place to keep your cellphone. The men's style has woven piecing on the shoulders and elbows for durability. Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, including ladies' petite and men's tall. From $69 | llbean.com

Suck It Up

Triple rod holder

We've been using SeaSucker products on our own boats for some years and have been impressed by their quality. At the heart of the system are vacuum cups that stick to almost any smooth surface, like gelcoat, to which a variety of accessories can be attached. Rod holders, diving bottle brackets, waste-bag holders, cellphone and tablet brackets, you name it and there's a product. But the best part is that when you need to remove or reposition anything, there's no mark left on the boat. Each SeaSucker comes with machine screw threads built into the suckers so you could dream up and mount your own homemade items — I use mine for fender attachments. All parts are noncorrosive and stand up to saltwater and the marine environment. Starting at $48 | seasucker.com

Nautical Elegance

With a sailing inspired theme, this set of two beauty cases is designed for women to carry cosmetics and other small personal items. The larger case measures 12 by 7 by 3.5 inches and is made from rugged 1,000-denier polyester canvas with top-grain leather trim. The case features sailboat artwork, inset signal-flag motifs, and rope-detailed zipper closure. There's a nautical chart liner and a leather patch with the moniker "Clear Skies and Fair Winds." The smaller 8 by 5 by 2.5-inch case is made from tan-colored vegan leather. $70 | rulenumberfive.com

Sailing-inspired beauty cases

End-Of-Year Giving

As you weigh making donations to worthy nonprofit organizations, either for tax purposes or as a gift to honor someone special for the holidays, keep the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water in mind. With your help, the Foundation can continue its many programs that help make waterways safer for all boaters. Here's some of the Foundation's good works:

  •  The Life Jacket Loaner Program loans 140,000 child-sized life jackets yearly from more than 575 sites nationwide, free.
  •  The BoatUS Foundation free online boating safety course meets requirements for 35 states including Washington, D.C.
  •  Online and on-water courses educate more than 150,000 boaters each year.
  •  EPIRB and PLB rentals have saved more than 60 lives.
  •  The Monofilament Recycling Program has kept nearly 4,000 pounds of discarded fishing line out of waterways.
  •  The Grassroots Boating Safety and Clean Water Grant program has distributed more than $1 million.
  •  More than 1,000 marina staff and fuel-dock attendants have taken our spill-prevention training.

You can also support the BoatUS Foundation all year long by making your regular purchases through Amazon. Log in to your Amazon account at smile.amazon.com and designate BoatUS Foundation as your supporting charity. A percentage of every eligible purchase will be donated to the Foundation. (Purchases at amazon.com and through the mobile app are excluded.)

Visit BoatUS.org to learn more about BoatUS Foundation programs and services, and click "donate" to learn about all the ways you can offer your support to help keep boating safe, clean, and fun!

— Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore

Glass Float

Floating sunglasses

Losing a pair of cheap sunglasses over the side is bad enough, but losing frames fitted with prescription lenses hurts. A set of Chums retainers could save your glasses and pocketbook. Essentially a lightweight latex tube that slips easily onto the ends of your frames, Chums come in a range of bright colors and have sufficient buoyancy to keep your glasses afloat should they fall in the drink. An added feature on some models is an adjustable bead to tighten the retainer around your head to keep glasses in place during more strenuous activities like paddleboarding or kayaking. From $6.99 | chums.com

Write On!

Sooner than later, everything on your boat is going to get wet, or at least damp. I'd never known there was such a thing as a waterproof paper until I discovered Rite in the Rain products. You can write on this coated paper with pencil or pen, and even underwater. There's a range of notebooks, loose-leaf papers, and wide-format papers that you can put through most any non-inkjet printer, so printing your own waterproof navigational charts is now entirely feasible. For a stocking stuffer consider one of the small spiral-bound notebooks — a perfect gift for making navigational notes or recording fishing data. From $3.95 | riteintherain.com

Step On It

Maine rope mat

When Maine lobstermen switched from using floating polypropylene to rope that sinks, there was a worry about where all that second-hand polypropylene rope would end up. Maine Rope Mats stepped up to the plate, almost literally, and now uses that same old line to make beautiful doormats in a plethora of designs and sizes. They'll even make a custom design. The poly line is virtually indestructible, will withstand almost anything that you can throw at it, and care couldn't be simpler: Blast it with a hose once in a while to rinse off the dirt. From $44.95 | maineropemats.com

Start 'Em Young

Here's a great book to share with preschool-age kids at bedtime. Each brightly colored double-page spread in Boats Are Busy features an illustration of a particular type of boat with a fun, easy-to-read description. Printed on thick card stock, the book will stand up to repeated handling. Adults might even learn a thing or two as each boat features a different nautical code flag with a description of its meaning. $9.95 | phaidon.com 

— Published: December 2018

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