’Tis the season to be giving, and there’s nothing better to give a boater than a present they can use to enhance their time out on the water all year round. From boating equipment to on the water toys, here are gift ideas for the special boater(s):
- Personal locator beacon
- Wireless waterproof speaker
- Polarized sunglasses
- Water shoes
Personal locator beacon
A personal locator beacon is a small device that a boater can clip onto a lifejacket or a piece of clothing, and that will alert search-and-rescue authorities if the boater needs help. While an EPIRB is a device that sends an emergency signal from the boat itself, a PLB is specific to the human being who is wearing it—making it an especially important item for a boater to have in case of a person-overboard situation.
West Marine sells a selection of PLBs from leading manufacturers such as ACR and Ocean Signal. The newest technology to look for in a personal locator beacon is called Return Link Service, which lets a PLB do something it could never do before: Let you know that the authorities have received your distress message.
Yes, really. In the past, a boater could go overboard and set off a personal locator beacon, only to be left floating around, hoping that the emergency signal actually made it to search-and-rescue teams. With Return Link Service, or RLS, the personal locator beacon can receive a signal coming back from those teams to let you know they have received the distress call.
Wireless waterproof speaker
Few things enhance a day out on the water like great tunes coming through with great sound. A wireless, waterproof Bluetooth speaker is the way to achieve this goal on boats that don’t already have top-grade, built-in stereo systems.
It’s important to make sure that the Bluetooth speaker you give any boater is rated to withstand use in the marine environment. What you want to look for in any portable speaker is a rating of IPX4 to IPX7, which means it can handle anything from an occasional splash to submersion under the surface for up to a half hour.
Major brands such as JBL and Sony make portable Bluetooth speakers that fall within these parameters, and that come in at different price points, depending on what your gift budget is. Sonos and Anker are lesser-known brands that also make speakers with these IPX ratings for weatherproofing.
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When you’re on a boat, one of the most important things you need is the ability to see all around you at all times. Binoculars are a terrific gift for boaters because they not only aid in seamanship, but they also can add to the fun—of scouting the horizon for a really cool sailing yacht or superyacht that’s part of the scene you can’t see with any other kind of activity.
Binoculars come in a wide array of styles and price points. If you’re looking for a pair of binoculars to give as the primary set that will be at the Nikon Prostaff is a good example of the latter, and some Steiner models also fall into this category as well.
Look for features like water-repellent glass, light weight and a locking diopter (which makes it easier to readjust the view if somebody moves the binoculars). In higher-end models, stabilization is another great feature for
Great sunglasses are a must on the water, not only to help boaters see better, but also to help protect their eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Companies that make marine-specific eyewear also incorporate elements such as small side shields that help to block wind out on the boat, and, in some cases, magnifying lenses that help people do things like tie flies on fishing trips.
Some good brands to consider when shopping for marine eyewear include Costa, Maui Jim, Oakley and Bajio. They make men’s and women’s styles with the types of features boaters need, and they sometimes vary those styles for specific water-related activities (such as fishing or sailing).
In some cases, you can also find versions of their glasses that are made from recycled materials such as fishing nets. Giving those sunglasses as a gift is a way not only to help protect a boater’s eyes but also to help protect the world’s waterways.
Standing or walking around on a boat is a lot different from standing or walking around on land. For starters, a boat is always moving. Even if it’s at anchor or at the dock, a boat is affected by wind and currents, which means your feet need a better grip on the material beneath your body. And, boats are full of things that can stub or break a toe, such as metal cleats that are used to hold the lines that tie the boat to the dock.
High-quality water shoes are the antidote to these problems. Today’s variations are made not just to absorb vibrations at the helm and help relieve fatigue, but also to wear into the dinghy and off to the beach for an afternoon of fun. They have quick-dry materials that are also solid and protective, and they come in cool styles to match just about any personality.
The Sport collection from Sperry is a good example, with shoes made for sailing, fishing and powerboating—all of which tend to have boaters using their feet in different ways. Helly Hansen also sells water-sport shoes, with variations that can be tailored to the type of boating the gift recipient enjoys.
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Kim Kavin has been on boats in more than 50 countries and islands, including in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. She grew up learning to steer a ski boat and Hobie Holder at her grandfather’s lake house in New Jersey, and went on to spend time aboard everything from America’s Cup racing sailboats to submarines.
Kim is a PADI-certified scuba diver and animal lover who always enjoys a good, long look around a coral reef. Her award-winning writing and editing regularly appears in national marine magazines and on leading websites. In her early years, she was a Dow Jones editing intern and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. When she’s not writing, Kim can usually be found hiking northwest New Jersey’s beautiful park trails with her adopted shelter mutt, Ginger.