So you still have a couple of things to grab before Christmas for your skipper on the list. It’s late in the game, but here’s ten nautical gift ideas for the boater in your life — in no particular order. For some of them, there might not be enough time before the big day, but once the after-holiday sales hit…bust out the list again.
10. Handheld GPS.
I picked up a pretty basic Global Positioning System (GPS) unit not too long ago for $99 at a local retailer. Boaters love having redundant systems, so an extra handheld is always a cool gift. It’s also nice to have a handheld (or extra handheld) for trips in the dinghy or second boat.
I was in West Marine last week and there was a guy in his late 40s/early 50s trying on one of the new Puma jackets they have. His wife looks at him and says, “You have about nine sailing jackets. I’ve never met anyone who owns more jackets.”
So, an extra jacket is always handy. They always come to good use, especially when a non-boater comes along slightly underdressed for the elements.
Okay, Dramamine is not a diamond ring, but it’s another one of those things that should be on the boat for guests, yet it’s often forgotten. A seasick remedy might be a boring stocking stuffer, but will be appreciated by someone down the line.
7. Tow Boat Service
Most boaters will already have this, but for the new boaters in the crowd, this is a great gift. If they’re new to the ocean, chances are they’re going to screw up somehow and it’s nice to know that there’s someone to call who’ll say, “Hang out. I’ll be there in a little while.” It’s extremely comforting to know that back-up is a call away.
6. Underwater Camera
I went out sailing with a couple of friends the other day and one of them had an underwater digital camera. It was great to get shots that you would never dare take with a regular camera. There are now good point-and-shoots for sale that are not insanely expensive.
5. Simulator Video Game
For the sailor there’s Virtual Skipper, a sailing simulator video game. I don’t really play games, but a lot of people seem to like this one. You can play on- or off-line and make believe you’re in the America’s Cup and other major races. It’s about $40. The Web site says, “Whether you are a novice or seasoned navigator, the game will satisfy your appetite for the open sea.” I don’t know about that, but it’ll probably be fun to kill time with.
This one isn’t for everyone, but lots of boaters have a penchant for history and an appreciation for the lore of boating. Many of us wish we could navigate with the use of the sextant and wouldn’t mind having one around in case we ever actually got ambitious enough to learn. But even if it just sits there, they look cool and are great conversation pieces.
3. Batteries and More Batteries
We have a lot of stuff powered by batteries. GPS units, lanterns, flashlights, cameras — the list is long. It’s not a sexy gift, but a big bag of batteries is great to have around.
No boater should be without a knife. Not only are they enormously handy for little jobs, they can also be a deciding factor in a lifesaving situation. I have a Leatherman with all kinds of tools that fold into it — pliers, bottle-opener, scissors, all kinds of stuff. But a knife is a good gift, even if it becomes an extra.
When I first got my boat, my Mom and my girlfriend both got me binoculars. They were both sad that they got me the same gift, but I was happy. Ever been to a concert and there’s one guy with binoculars commenting on all the stuff you can’t see? I hate that. So I say, “The more binoculars the better.” It’s great when a whale spouts about 200 yards away and you can start dishing out binoculars.