Gift Guide For Boaters: Our best picks for your favorite seafarers - PassageMaker
Our best picks for your favorite seafarers

Turnbuckle Bookends

If you’re tired of your books flying around the saloon during those rollicking nights at sea, might we suggest these glorious bookends that are forged from polished cast aluminum and brass? Designed to replicate the early turnbuckles that governed sail line or shroud tension on ships, the base is made from cast iron so as not to be persuaded to move easily. Tension screws will put the clamps down on even the most unseaworthy collection of romance novels. —JC

Papa’s Pilar Rum

The connection between Ernest Hemingway and Papa’s Pilar rum is intentional. The fledgling rum producer in Key West, Florida, is named after the great American author’s Wheeler 38, the muse for Hemingway’s legendary love for seafaring and sport fishing. The company is so tuned into the adventurous spirit of its patriarch that even the bottle is shaped like a World War II water canteen, complete with cap and chain. At present, Papa’s Pilar comes in a light blonde, 84-proof rum, that has a subtle nose that wafts of citrus, coconut, and vanilla, and finishes on the clean, dry, and slightly nutty side of the palette. To me, the blonde would be a perfect feature in a warm-weather cocktail with some pineapple juice or a splash of La Croix. My preference, though, is for Papa Pilar’s dark rum. Created from a few quality sources, including a 24-year aged rum, the blend is finished in Spanish sherry barrels where it picks up additional subtle flavor and aroma notes from the cask. This one is a sipper, like a quality Kentucky bourbon but with a slightly sweeter finish; it has a velvety smoothness to it, and features all the greatest characters from cask-conditioned liquors. —JC

GoPro Hero6 Black

For years, GoPro has led the way with the highest-quality adventure cameras, always pushing the envelope with technological features and usability. Even though early generations failed to have an LCD monitor on the back or even a viewfinder to help frame your subjects, no legitimate competitors have cropped up in that time, handing GoPro lead-dog status for the past 13 years. But they haven’t sat on their laurels, GoPro is now up to its sixth generation with this fall’s release of the Hero6 Black. Packed with the usual array of powerful features, the 6 offers the most amazing video capabilities yet, including the ability to shoot in 4k at 60 frames per second, or 1080p/240. For the snorkelers or light divers among you, the camera is also waterproof down to 30 feet—more, of course, if you have an additional housing. Another cool feature connects your footage to your phone, and through the GoPro app will assemble a video clip automatically from your adventures. —JC

FLIR Night Vision M-Series

Prices vary - www.flir.com

Prices vary - www.flir.com

Few companies on the planet know as much about thermal imaging cameras than our friends at FLIR. Many of their products end up in the hands of military and search-and-rescue professionals, adding legitimacy to the leading-edge product line. The new M-Series night vision cameras are no exception, and represent another advancement in thermal imaging. The 324CS camera offers detection for vessels large and small, floating objects (including humans and pets), and other hazards. What many people don’t know is that the capabilities for obscured daytime imaging can be just as important, including the ability to detect through glare, dust, and even some fog. Even better, gyro-enabled cameras are standard across the M-series next gen line resulting in a far more stable and easier to read picture. A simple joystick allows the user to pan, tilt, and zoom, and on compatible MFDs, optional advanced touchscreen controls are also available. —JC

Bronze Dinghy Batten Sockets

A dingy cover is only as good as the support system that is provided by the boat. The problem with traditionally built wooden dinghies is that the scantlings are often too delicate in install any of the “off the shelf” batten holders. The problems continue once the cover is off and the hardware remains; breaking up the classic look of the boat and leaving an uncomfortable obstruction. To combat this problem East Passage Boatwrights developed a line of bronze batten socket that fits into your boat’s existing oarlocks. The attached lanyard helps secure the hardware to the boat while the cover is in place, secure enough to take the trailer over the road. Once the cover is taken off, the batten sockets are easily removed from the oarlocks leaving nothing to get in your way. These solid cast bronze batten sockets come in two different types. The latest version has a set screw to secure the batten into the hardware. This is ideal for dinghies stowed on the deck of a boat or anywhere near the water where there is a danger of the hardware being lost overboard. —JC

Standard Horizon HX210 VHF

The latest VHF transceiver from Standard Horizon has the specs to be a nice addition to your electronics goody bag. With a submersible IPX7 waterproof rating to just over three feet, the new HX210 transceiver also floats. Featuring all channels, including the United States, Canada, and international channels, the 6W, max-output VHF has an easy-to-read, high-resolution LCD screen with a menu system that won’t make you go crazy trying to figure it out. Select from 6W, or power down to 2.5W or 1W of power while using. A standard outlet fully charges the 1800 mAh lithium-ion battery in 3 hours and Standard Horizon includes a three-year waterproof manufacturer’s warranty. —JC

Slow Watch

Starting at $250 - www.slow-watches.com

Starting at $250 - www.slow-watches.com

When you are out on your boat, time slows down, it is time to relax. But our busy lives have often trained us to be minute counters and clock watchers. The Slow Watch isn’t actually slow, it tells time accurately, but it discourages clock watching, minus admiring this watch’s beauty. It takes this watch a full 24 hours for its one hand to make a full rotation of the bezel. A quick glance will tell you the hour, and for those who need precision, a close study will give you a more accurate time. But Slow watches are designed to slow us down, to get us focused on the present, and spend less time counting the minutes until what’s next. Swiss made, water resistant to 100 meters. —BKL

Garmin VIRB 360 Camera

Whatever highly rated action camera you have right now, throw it out; it is nothing compared to this new camera from Garmin. Wide-angle action cams are a thing of the past with this new 360-degree, 5.7K, image-stabilized action cam. Yes you read all of that correctly. This camera records action 360-degrees around you, stitching it together in smooth, ultra-high-quality video that is VR-compatible (meaning you can relive the action wearing virtual reality glasses). This is the action camera you need to document your incredible moments. —BKL

Lowrance Fishhunter

Starting at $149 – www.lowrance.com

Starting at $149 – www.lowrance.com

Lowrance has always been at the forefront of fishing electronics, but their latest Fishhunter Pro and Fishhunter 3D products might be their most ingenious idea yet: Behold, castable fish finders. That’s right, these suckers connect to your smart phone via Bluetooth, and you can cast them to where you think there might be fish and see how on the money you are! The tri-frequency transducer provides a strong signal up to 150 feet down. The Fishhunter’s unique buoy shape is designed to float high, keeping its antenna out of the water so that it can easily transmit a signal up to 200 feet. Now you can fish from the dock, a kayak, or your anchored boat and know where the big ones are. —BKL

Yeti Colster

$25 – www.yeti.com

$25 – www.yeti.com

A traditional foam drink coozie is a laughing matter in comparison to the Yeti Colster. Putting a beer—bottle or can—or any other canned beverage in one of these bad boys is like creating a portable cooler for your drink. Even on the hottest days the stainless steel, double-walled vacuum insulators keep your beverage of choice colder for far longer, hands down. They also sport a no-sweat, condensation-free design so they won’t get slippery while they get to work. Heavy-duty construction means you can also turn your long neck beer into a fish club if you ever find yourself in that kind of a bind. —BKL

StereoActive Music Machine

If your portable stereo doesn’t work without first stuffing it with D-cell batteries like a Thanksgiving turkey, you’re probably doing it wrong. And if you’re out paddle boarding without a water-resistant, Bluetooth-enabled boom box, you’re most definitely doing it wrong. Enter the hi-fi experts at Fusion to help bring your tender, kayak, or other water-bound toys into the modern age. Choose whether you prefer MP3 playback, Bluetooth audio streaming, or AM/FM tuning with an option for Weatherband, then enjoy up to 20 hours of listening enjoyment from its rechargeable lithiom-ion battery. For the really active among you, there is a dedicated spot to mount your action camera, though we doubt this will be useful for those who only listen to Weatherband. —JC

Fell Marine MOB+ Kill Switch

Dinghy engine kill switch cords are a pain. They get in the way of moving around the boat and are an extra step we might not be used to in the dinghy, but they are a crucial safety feature. The Fell Marine MOB+ Kill Switch is the perfect wireless solution for your dinghy. Place the fob in one of their convenient wristbands or attach it to your PFD. The system works to kill the engine if the pilot falls overboard, meaning your dinghy won’t drive away from you or dangerously spin around you in the water. Additional fobs can be worn by other passengers and will alarm if submerged to alert the pilot. —BKL

WeeGo Battery Charger

The WeeGo portable battery charger and power pack comes in a metal box, same as your Spiderman lunchpail from 1980. Inside, instead of processed cheese and bologne, sits a power pack that can rival a steak dinner. The main brick is a bright orange lithium-ion battery pack that measures just 6- ” x 3- ” x 1- ”. Before we get to its battery-jumping capabilities, let’s explore the other stuff. The pack features a USB charging port for any of your enabled devices. A trademarked Detect-o-Matic is an intelligent charger that is said to communicate with the device to deliver the fastest-possible charge without incurring damage. Second, the pack comes equipped with a dual-beam, 500-lumen multipurpose flashlight. Multipurpose, in this case, means that like a headlamp, the lights will cycle between normal beam mode, strobe, and SOS. With a fully charged battery, the beam lasts up to 14 hours, and while in SOS/strobe mode the light should last up to twice as long. But primarily, the WeeGo is a portable jump starter that will start gas engines up to 6.4L and diesel ones up to 3.2L. With 1,000 full charge cycles and an operating range between -4F and 140F, the WeeGo only loses 2% of its charge per month. Also features IP65-rating for durability in watery, dusty, and dirty conditions. —JC

SandSåk Anchor/Drybag

This cool product from Såk Gear is really a two-in-one drybag/sand anchor. When you’re out for a paddle, stow your phone, money clip, beeper, or any other valuables inside the bright-yellow 20-liter bag, and cinch the top for protection from splashing or accidental capsize. The bag itself is made from strong, 500D PVC with welded seams for increased strength and features UTX clips, D rings, and a bottom strap to hold onto it while you tip it upside-down. The bag can be filled, hence the name, with up to 50-pounds of sand and deployed as an anchor for the toys you don’t want to beach. Remember to remove valuables before filling with sand. Comes with 12 feet of braided floating line, two 316 stainless clips, and a bright green and yellow float for maximum visibility. —JC

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn

$19

$19

Untold tales from history are often the most intriguing since grade school textbooks rarely broached difficult subjects. Robert P. Watson's new book, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn, definitely qualifies. It even manages to make a bunch of anarchists throwing boxes of tea into Boston Harbor seem tame by comparison. Just putting this out there: This is not going to be an uplifiting and cheerful addition to your holiday gift basket. Retelling the tale from reports, diaries, and released military records, Watson details the horrors onboard the British ship, HMS Jersey, that was moored of the coast of New York to serve as a floating prison for Colonial subjects whose hands were caught in the cookie jar. Inhumane conditions onboard were commonplace as prisoners were withheld fresh air, water, light, and food. It was a death sentence to anyone exiled here, and Watson credits the treatment of Jersey's prisoners as a catalyst that sparked Revolution. —JC

Exothermic Heat Pads

Starting from $13 - www.clickheat.eu

Starting from $13 - www.clickheat.eu

If you’re no stranger to aches and pains, hand and neck warmers are a great way to ease them, even if temporarily. Pouch warmers by Click Heat offer a remedy. Simply unbox the pouch—which comes in various dimensions, from hand-sized to a three-part pouch large enough to warm your neck and shoulders—find the disc floating inside that is roughly the size of a dime, and using your thumb and forefinger, “break” the disc by snapping it. What happens next is a mystery. Pay attention as a cloud envelops the pouch, turning it a murky white. As the pouch turns cloudy, it also warms and will stay pretty warm for a while). The beauty is this isn’t a one-time operation. Simply boil the pouch for seven minutes, then carefully put it out to dry on paper towels. The cloud will disappear, and you’re ready to use it again. —JC

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