The Latest New Gear Launched At This Year's Boat Shows

By Mark Corke

Boat-show season has come and gone, but we came home with some of the best problem-solving products launched.

Cushy Tushy

CruiseAir seat

Spend much time sitting in a bass boat moving at high speed, and your back can suffer with the pounding. The seats that come as standard often could be better, and owners frequently replace them with aftermarket seats that offer better support than the originals.

The Cruiseair seat from Dowco addresses the shortcomings of many standard seats and incorporates an adjustable inflatable seat and back for support and comfort. Additionally, the seat-back insert can be adjusted forward to place the skipper in a more ergonomic position for driving the boat or moved back for leg room when the boat is at rest. Adjusting the seat is easy thanks to waterproof fingertip controls built into a panel in the side of the base. The seats are finished in attractive marine-grade PVC with contrasting piping and come with a five-year warranty. $1,000 |


Keeping your boat out of the water when not in use has advantages: You can forgo antifouling, and problems like osmotic blisters are a thing of the past. Small boats can be stored on trailers or lifts, but what to do if you have a larger boat? FAB Dock may have the answer.

FAB Dock

Resembling a giant inflatable dinghy, the portable FAB Dock fits around the boat and, thanks to a 12-volt water-sensing sump pump built into the fabric floor, any water from waves or rain is pumped out to keep the hull dry. The pump is powered by either the boat's battery or solar power.

When you're ready to leave the dock, the back third of the FAB Dock is deflated, allowing the boat to be backed out. On return, the boat is simply driven back in between the tubes, which are then reinflated. The inflated tubes also act like jumbo fenders preventing the topsides of the boat from impacting the dock. The company's Universal Range is available in sizes for monohull outboard and sterndrive vessels between 17 and 44 feet. Custom builds are available for larger vessels up to 100 feet, multihulls up to 100 feet, and shaft drives. Starts at $6,990, depending on size |

Lighten Up

Grand Slam 900 Anchor Light

When at anchor, U.S. Coast Guard regulations stipulate that you must display an all-round white light. But some of the lights available for smaller boats can be chintzy and of indifferent quality. The Grand Slam 900 Anchor Light from Taco Marine has an LED light that's visible for 2 nautical miles, and fully compliant with Coast Guard regulations for small craft. One of the best features of the light, however, is that it folds up and down thanks to a manual crank handle built into the base, so no more standing on the gunwale to raise or lower the anchor light — an important safety consideration.

Suitable for mounting on a hard top up to 2 inches thick, the light also includes a backing plate for a neat appearance on the underside. A similar-looking folding VHF antenna mount is also available. $699.99 |

Bilge Buddy

BG-One bilge pump switch

Ridding water from the bilge requires two things: a pump and a switch. The latter is often a simple float switch, which is both cheap and reliable. The problem is that it can't distinguish between liquids. Oil or fuel in the bilge that ends up in the water creates an environmental mess and a potential hefty fine for the boat owner.

The BG-One oil and fuel detector bilge pump switch from Blue Guard Innovations looks a little like a perforated hockey puck. Using smart technology, it is able to differentiate between oil or fuel and water. Petroleum-based products are less dense than water and float on the surface. The switch turns on the pump to evacuate water from the bilge but shuts off as soon as it detects oil or fuel.

The switch is just over 4 inches wide by 2 inches high, so should fit in most any bilge. And because there are no moving parts, it should have a long lifespan. $219 |


KrankingKART mini jump start pack

Dead batteries are among the top reasons members need to call TowBoatUS for on-water assistance. Of course, you can avoid getting stranded by carrying a jump-starter pack with you. The downside to many of these, which are basically a portable lead-acid battery in a case, is that they need to be regularly recharged to keep them in a state of readiness — and sometimes that takes a long time.

KrankingKART from Kolban utilizes different technology. It uses supercapacitors, which have several advantages over traditional battery packs: They recharge in seconds rather than hours, have meager self-discharge rates, and have an almost unlimited lifespan. Unlike a traditional battery, capacitors store energy in the form of a static charge, which can be used to significant advantage to jump-start a motor.

The KrankingKART weighs less than 20 pounds, comes in a waterproof box, and has reverse polarity and digital voltage indicators and 6-foot battery connection leads. $795 |

Make The Case

Splash phone case

Mobile devices are part of our daily lives and have proven to be indispensable allies afloat. Charting software, apps to connect and control your boat when you're ashore, and a camera are all handy things to have at your fingertips. But drop your phone into the bilge or over the side, and the phone's a goner.

The Splash from Hitcase is lightweight, slim, waterproof to 10 feet, and the rubberized grip around the edge keeps it secure in your hand, even in wet conditions. The manufacturer says that when encased in The Splash, a phone can survive a 6-foot drop without damage. Optical glass covering the camera lens makes for perfect pictures, even underwater. $69.99 | 

— Published: February/March 2019

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