Find what you need to make special boaters' holiday season memorable, whether they've been nautical or nice.
With any luck you’ve done all of your holiday shopping and are sitting back comfortably while everyone else prepares to scramble all the way to the end. If so, go ahead and skip past this feature. Oh, who are we (and you) kidding? You’re not done yet. Maybe you haven’t even begun. No matter your state of preparedness, we’re here to help.
To make the job of gift-giving easier for our readers, we whittled a large list of possibilities down to a manageable collection of potential holiday surprises for boaters. What you’ll find on the next several pages are 30 suggestions that range from $10 to $10,000 and from nitty-gritty to esoteric to practical to extravagant. And if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for here, our ideas are sure to lead to dozens of other possibilities. So enjoy.
Our first suggestion, obviously, is a gift subscription to Sea Magazine. Longtime boat owners and newbies alike will enjoy our boat reviews, cruising features, how-to pieces and regional news. At just $10 for two years — that’s 24 issues — a subscription is a low-cost gift that keeps giving.
Less Than $100
If a boat’s fenders are showing their age, do the boat’s owner a favor by giving him new ones. And attractive ones at that. Super Gard fenders from Taylor Made come in a navy or silver swirl pattern and are made from high-quality marine-grade vinyl.
If someone uses a tablet as a second (or maybe even first) navigation screen, give that boater something that can hold the tablet in place. The Rokk Mini Tablet Clamp from Scanstrut mounts to virtually any surface and holds strong. Various accessories personalize the system.
Fishing Gloves PelagicGear.com, $34
Battle Half Finger Fishing Gloves from Pelagic Gear protect anglers’ hands from the toughest fishing lines, even wire lines, because they are reinforced with Kevlar. Open fingertips let wearers retain dexterity. Available from small to extra-large, they are a fit for any size angler.
SailFin Boat Shoes SoftScience.com, $59.95
Fast draining and quick drying, women’s SailFin boat shoes from SoftScience grip well even when wet and come in blue and light gray. The outsole is non-marking and the microfiber upper lets feet breathe.
Loyak Boat Shoes
With an indestructible canvas upper, a mesh tongue, drainage ports and a Flex-Grip non-marking outsole, Loyak M boat shoes for men from Astral offer comfort and stability. Available in four color combos, Loyak Ms are casual but functional, sturdy but comfortable.
Songfish & Bahama II Boat Shoes
Sperry.com, $89.95 (Songfish), $69.95 (Bahama II)
Sperry is a name boaters know and trust, so any boater on your list will appreciate a gift in a Sperry box. For women, the Songfish style includes a wool and leather upper and a non-marking outsole. Bahama II is a men’s style whose breathable wool upper and Wave-Siping non-marking outsole deliver grip and comfort.
Hunting the Wind SchifferBooks.com, $34.99
(Schiffer, September 2018)
Throughout the Great Depression and World War II, boats took to the air, and in “Hunting the Wind: Pan American World Airways’ Epic Flying Boat Era, 1929–1946” Teresa Webber and Jamie Dodson let readers journey back in time to an era of romance, thrills and innovation.
Barons of the Sea
(Simon & Schuster, July 2018)
In the late 19th century, a handful of competitors staged a technological battle to build the fastest and most profitable clipper ships to carry cargo — legal and illicit — to the U.S. “Barons of the Sea” by Steven Ujifusa tells the tale of intrigue, scandal and decadence that is as sordid as it is innovative and industrious.
Calendar of Wooden Boats
Wooden boats occupy a special place in most boaters’ mind. They represent tradition, craftsmanship and beauty and seem to have universal appeal. Noah Publications’ 2019 Calendar of Wooden Boats features Benjamin Mendlowitz photos of 12 beauties from around the world.
Northwest Boat Travel
For the 40th year, “Northwest Boat Travel” will provide information boaters need about marinas, anchorages, fuel docks and plenty more, from Olympia to Southeast Alaska. Maps provide big-picture views and individual entries deliver detailed information about dozens of locations.
Waggoner Cruising Guide
If it’s a marine facility, fuel dock, rapid or shoal between southern Puget Sound and Ketchikan, Alaska, it’s in the “Waggoner Cruising Guide.” Updated annually, Waggoner puts marina names, customs office phone listings, conversion tables, VHF channel guides and more at boaters’ fingertips.
Mexico Boating Guide
Cruisers to Mexico can always use the best information, and “Mexico Boating Guide” by Capt. Pat Rains covers both sides of Baja, all of the Sea of Cortez and mainland Mexico. A veteran cruiser (and Sea contributor), Rains also provides paperwork advice, lists of necessary items, a GPS waypoints list and more.
From $100 to $500
The inReach Mini from Garmin is a gift that provides peace of mind. Using the Iridium satellite network to stay connected from anywhere and give SAR crews information they need to effect a rescue, Mini is able to pair with Apple and Android phones, is water rated to IPX7, and can send texts and SOS alerts.
AxisGO iPhone Case
Owners of an iPhone 7 Plus or 8 Plus can turn their smart device into an underwater camera with the AxisGO from AquaTech. Called a Smartphone Imaging System, the case protects iPhones to 33 feet and allows access to the camera and apps. Post to Facebook from the reef? Probably not, but worth a shot.
If seasickness is a problem for anyone on your list, Reliefband 2.0 might be the stocking stuffer of choice. Worn on the wrist, Reliefband alleviates the nausea of motion sickness and can make a day on the water more pleasant. Color choices are black and blue, and it comes with a tube of conductivity gel.
Mustang Survival doesn’t just manufacture life-saving equipment. Its Taku Jacket promises to keep adventurous boaters dry and warm while still being lightweight, waterproof and breathable. Neoprene wrist enclosures keep water out and its design minimizes snag hazards.
Does someone on your list like to head out for fish in all conditions? If so, a pair of Grundéns Deck-Boss Boots could be a holiday highlight. Insulated with AeroGel throughout the upper, the 15-inch boots are lighter than other boots and provide toasty warmth.
Costa and Bureo are on a mission to prevent discarded fishing nets from polluting the oceans. Bureo breaks old fishing nets down into pellets that are then recycled by Costa into frames for its Untangled collection, such as the Victoria style, which features polarized glass lenses.
New on the scene and located in Seattle, Ombraz Sunglasses has a different take on shades: no sidearms. Instead, a tightly woven, adjustable polyester cord secures the frame to the wearer’s face. German-engineered lenses block all UVA and UVB rays. Oh, and the company plants 20 trees for every pair purchased.
From $501 to $1,000
A good set of binoculars is important at a boat’s helm, and the Navigator Pro 7×50 style features seven times magnification, high-contrast optics, Sports-Auto Focus and more.
Does someone who frequents your boat outings like to take a SUP along but your boat doesn’t really have room for it. Maybe an inflatable SUP such as the Lahui Kai Sport is the solution. The package comes with a backpack, a pump, a paddle, a center fin and an ankle leash.
Give a snorkeler the ability to go a little deeper without the full scuba setup with the EasyDive Kit from Submersible Systems. Combined with the company’s Snorkelator, EasyDive provides up to 30 minutes of air and the ability to switch back and forth between snorkel and regulator, without changing the mouthpiece.
At 10 feet, 5 inches long, the Topwater PDL Angler Kayak from Old Town is a compact but fully equipped kayak for anglers that will fit on most boats. Its DoubleU hull provides hands-free stability during standup casting, and its PDL pedal drive means operators can pedal while holding a rod.
Part art project, part watercraft, the Coast XT kayak from Oru Kayak is fully capable on the water but folds down to the size of a suitcase, for easy transport and storage aboard. Even though its polypropylene body folds, it withstands contact with underwater obstacles and is rated for 20,000 fold cycles.
A combination of yacht toy and exercise equipment, the Schiller S1-C Water Bike is easy to ride, constructed from marine-grade alloys and stainless steel, and is easy to transport. It disassembles to fit in a lazarette and adds a bit of health and wellness to off-the-yacht exploration. Some riders have reached 10 knots on the bike.
Chronomat Colt Watch
Breitling.com, $3,620 (steel)
From Breitling’s women’s collection, Chronomat Colt Automatic 41 comes with a steel or leather strap, a steel case that’s water-resistant to 660 feet and a clean face with a date window. A woman on your list can rock a fashionable timepiece, in Tempest Gray or Silver, above and below the water.
Housed in a 41 mm case — a good size for men and women — HydroConquest model L3.7184.108.40.206 from Longines is water-resistant to 30 bars and uses Super-LumiNova so the hands and numbers glow in the dark. A gray rubber strap matches the face.
OK, this is likely something one might give himself, but we had to include it. From Omega, the Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M has a 45.5mm titanium body, a rubber strap, is water-resistant to 600 meters and earned Master Chronometer status in Switzerland. You might even impress yourself with this gift.