Boaters are unique people. Even newbies to boating life quickly develop a devotion to the water and their boat that borders on the obsessive. That makes it easier for gift givers, though, because there is always one more piece of equipment for the boat or one more novelty that will remind them of the boat during the offseason.
The following are three categories of boat-type gifts and some specific suggestions for boat-related gifts. If the boater in your life is like most, the issue will not be finding a great idea that fits their devotion but rather how to narrow down the options.
Practical Gifts for Boaters
Boating equipment is expensive. It is easy for someone to spend thousands of dollars on boating equipment and just cover the basics. Practical boating gifts are the way to go for someone just starting boating or for the veteran boater looking to upgrade.
Boat Lines and Dock Ties
Bungee boat and dock lines give the boater practical equipment they will use virtually every time they take the boat out. Resilient and flexible, either type of line can ensure that a boater can dock where they want and help whoever needs a tow. Because each is specially made for boats, fraying is not an issue, and repurposing is much more difficult.
For boaters with larger boats that they take out onto the ocean, major rivers, or the Great Lakes, a compass is a tool that can help a skipper get their bearings, set a course, or even just know what direction to head. A marine compass can also come in handy when positioning the boat in preparation for bad weather.
Boat Scuff Erasers
Boats run into many things that scuff and mark the sides, deck, blow, and even the transom. For minor to moderate scuffing, a boat scuff eraser provides an easy way to get a boat back looking as good as new. Scuff erasers are particularly good for end-of-season maintenance when you pull the boat out for the winter or to prepare the boat if you are planning on selling it.
Fishing headlamps are invaluable when fishing at dusk or in the evening. If you have ever tried to unhook a fish, swap out a lure or bait a hook in the half-light of a fluorescent camping lantern, you are aware of how important adequate lighting is.
Headlamps make loading a boat in the morning and fishing or unloading a boat at night as easy as it is during high noon. Additionally, headlamps help cut down on fumbling with fish or fishing equipment and boating items, and they can even prevent the stray jab from a hook if you are trying to land a monster in pitch black.
Tilly Airflow Organic Sunhat
Spend one afternoon on a boat in the summer, and the importance of covering your head, no matter how much hair you have, becomes apparent. With a mesh vent to allow the free flow of air, your head will be ventilated and protected from the sun, no matter what time of year it is.
Boating tends to be a very wet pursuit. Rain, spray from a river, lake, or ocean, and mist in the morning and evening can turn a dry adventure into a soggy slop.
A waterproof windbreaker keeps the boater warm while also protecting them from the wind. Every boat should have at least one waterproof windbreaker stowed away for the stray rain shower.
For the kayakers or canoeists in your life, quickly removing water that breaches the side of the vessel can prevent everything from wet feet to soggy supplies to the vessel from becoming swamped. In addition, a hand pump can make quick work of minor water seepage, whether from rain, larger waves, or water dripping off paddles.
Help Pay Boat Expenses
Just about everywhere you look, a boat has some expense to keep it in good shape. Almost every state in the USA has licensing and certification requirements. You also must store the boat and winterize it. Then, there are unanticipated expenses like replacing a prop or fixing an electrical issue.
A gift card to a marina to help with the unexpected, or even the expected, like boat storage, goes a long way to ensuring the boater in your life can keep their boat in the best shape possible.
Necessary Gifts for Boaters
Practical boating gifts are great, but some gifts are more than just convenient tools. They are vital to the safe navigation of a boat and the safety of the occupants on board. Here are a few great gift ideas every boater will need at some point.
First Aid Kit
Every boat needs a fully stocked first aid kit. It must be able to treat everything from minor scrapes and burns to trauma to seasickness to full-blown illnesses. Possessing a first aid kit is more than just a convenience. It can be a lifesaver.
There are dozens of options for first aid kits for boats. A simple first aid kit with bandages and essential medicine will work for smaller boats. However, a kit like the one recommended here is suitable for larger boats or boats that spend a lot of time on the water or go on overnights.
Nautical Chart (s) and Waterway Maps
Almost everyone that loves boats or being on the water also likes nautical charts and waterway maps. For nautical charts the boater in your life will use for navigating waterways, you want to ensure the gift is an official chart from NOAA or an approved NOAA sales distributor.
Maps that are not meant for navigation are available at most marinas. There are also many online shopping opportunities to buy maps that, while not navigational, contain unique details such as depths, shipping lanes, and, on some maps, identified shipwrecks.
Most people envision using a boating spotlight on a lake, river, or ocean in the dead of night. In reality, a boating spotlight is of more use at dawn, dusk, and early evening. Helping pinpoint a dock or find fishing and boating equipment, load a boat to a trailer in the dark, and navigate waterways at night or early morning is much easier with a spotlight.
New Life Jackets / Life Jacket Upgrades
Having a life jacket for everyone on a boat is more than just common sense or good boating practice. It is the law in most jurisdictions. The key to buying a flotation vest, or life jacket, is to ensure it is USCG approved and lightweight enough that no one will have an issue wearing it.
Portable Emergency Boat Battery Charger
Boat batteries sit in a damp and often dirty environment; they can get wet and often are forgotten as long as they run well. When a boat battery gives out, though, everyone quickly appreciates the value of a portable emergency boat battery charger. With virtually the touch of a button, you can get your boat battery up and running and back to your home base.
A paddle is handy to have on any boat. It can help push the boat off a dock, serve as an extension to swimmers looking to come back aboard, and even serve as a prod when you are trying to gauge water depth in shallow areas.
Main or Auxilliary Anchor
Anchors hold boats in place. They help a boat maintain its position in a storm. They also aid in holding a boat still in a current. Unfortunately, boat anchors can become stuck on the bottom of a body of water, and if the line parts, the anchor is lost. While it might not seem like all that important a gift, just about every boater has lost at least one anchor in their time.
Weather and Spillproof Tumbler
Rough seas mean more than seasick passengers or unstowed items taking a trip across the deck. Another risk of rough seas is spilling that all-important beverage every captain and crew needs to stay hydrated. A weather and spillproof tumbler ensure that your beverages stay cold and protected until you want to drink them.
Fuel Gift Card
Boat fuel is much more expensive than the gas you put in your vehicle. Filling up even a smaller boat can cost hundreds of dollars. Buy your boater a gift card to a major gas station or if they always fuel at one marina, get them a gift card.
Fun Gifts for Boaters
While most boaters will appreciate practical and necessary boating-related gifts, most people want to give their loved ones stuff they will find fun. Here are a few examples of fun gifts boaters will appreciate.
Almost no boater “needs” binoculars unless they go out on the ocean or a giant lake. That does not mean, however, that binoculars are not a lot of fun. Whether checking out activities on the lake, watching wildlife, or getting a better view of what the boater faces to get from point A to Point B, binoculars are a gift every boater will appreciate.
Bait and Filet Table
If you fish off your boat and keep what you catch for dinner, you are faced with one, possibly two challenges: Cutting bait and fileting fish without making a huge mess. A portable bait and filet table solves that issue, letting anglers slice their bait and then prepare the fish that went after that bait quickly and cleanly.
Towable Tube for Boating
Kids and adults love getting pulled through the waves behind a boat on a towable tube. Most are good for a season or two, but a few, like this one, will last several seasons if kept up properly. Add to the tube a flotation vest, and you have a gift ready-made for instant fun on the water.
Even if you only fish freshwater bodies, fins, hooks, and knives can mean nicks and cuts. Fishing gloves help protect your hands from a stray hook or a slipped knife. Most fishing gloves have textured palms and the interior of fingers to allow for secure gripping of fish, whether bringing them on board or holding them when preparing them for dinner.
Nautical Boat Cutting Board
No boating excursion is complete without food. Everything must be pre-prepared, though, unless the boater has a station on their boat that can serve as a prep and cutting space. Whether cutting cheese, vegetables, or meat, this personalized nautical cutting board will remind the boater of their vessel and lets them prepare food on board.
Pop-Up Quick Canopy Sun Tent
Whether resting on the boat or sitting on a beach, the sun can quickly make any boating excursion uncomfortable. The sun is particularly hard on children and the elderly. With a sunshade pop-up tent, at least those looking for relief can avoid direct sunlight. In addition, those under the tent are protected from dangerous UV rays.
Cracking open a bold beverage also helps keep the sun at bay. Depending on what the purpose of the trip is, there is a cooler size to meet the need. Food storage is also easy with the right-sized cooler, which means the people on the boat can get their food on their own time.
Portable Bartender Kit
Sipping wine or a cocktail on the water, taking in the sunset, is a boating tradition for many who own vessels or routinely are on them. Most skippers consider themselves at least somewhat talented in crafting the perfect drink. A portable bartender kit makes that easy because everything they need is at their fingertips.
Prepare a martini with the shaker and strainer. Open that vintage bottle of wine with the wine opener. Made of stainless steel and stored in a rugged, highly portable carry bag, this portable bartender kit will ensure the skipper can serve the perfect drink to take in the perfect sunset.
As this list shows, boaters are not difficult to please. Mix practicality with need and fun, and there are thousands of gifts that casual to serious boaters will appreciate. The key is ensuring that the gift you get is the perfect match for the boater in your life.
Cardi “likes to party” Clark has 15+ years of designing, planning, and executing successful parties and events. Highly skilled in event strategy, management, planning, and execution with a track record of exceeding expectations. I make it happen. I get it done and people have fun!