5 Boating Accessories to Add to Your Holiday Wishlist


Buying the right holiday gift for the boater in your life is always a challenge. And we all have a few gifts from family and friends who aren’t boaters but mean well. Which is a shame, when there are so many great gift ideas that could really enhance our time out on the water. That’s where a good wish list helps the people in your life.

So what makes an accessory worthy of your wishlist? What we’re looking for is something that you could get by without, but enhances your boating experience when you have it. Whether it’s by adding comfort and enjoyment, increasing safety, or cutting down on the work you need to do, you’ll be happy to unwrap it.

Portable Dinghy Lights

parts included when you buy NaviSafe portable dinghy lights
NaviSafe Portable Dinghy Lights

Dinghies operating at night are supposed to be lit. The rules are very specific – boats moving under power must have red/green lights on the bow, and an all-around white light. Unpowered boats should have a white light. But unlit dinghies zipping between boats on the way back from shore at night is a common sight.

A quality set of portable lights is easy to put on and off the boat, works off standard batteries, and are waterproof and rugged. Several portable light kits, such as the systems from RailBlaza and NaviSafe, have permanent mounts to install on your inflatable tubes or transoms with glues and brackets. Putting them on when you need them is a snap.

Other lights rely on suction ups or clamps to hold them in place. They’re less expensive and don’t require modifications to the boat. But dirt and moisture on tubes coupled with engine and wave vibration may loosen suction cups and clamps.

Dry Bags and Boxes

Any time you step off your boat, there’s a chance what you’re carrying ends up in the water, gets splashed with spray, or gets rained on.

Welded tough rubber dry bags with sealed tops that roll down and clip have set the new standard for keeping gear and belongings dry. Options include a range of sizes, shoulder straps for backpack style carrying, and different connects and snaps to seal the bag.

Dry bags aren’t ideal for delicate items that can’t take being stepped on in the bottom of a dinghy. For cameras, phones, tablets, and other fragile gear, look for hard sided cases with waterproof seals and firm clasping latches.

Inflatable Fenders

Black inflatable fender tied onto the side of a boat keeping it off the dock
Inflatable Fenders | Canva

Permanent fenders are filled with air, but they don’t deflate well and they take up a lot of room. You want only what you need to secure your boat in the slip. But when you pull in a different slip with more scary pilings than you’re used to, or you want to raft up with some friends, you may find yourself a few fenders short.

That’s where proper inflatable fenders give you options. Quality double-walled PVC fenders take the weight of your boat and are tough enough to give you that extra protection to keep your boat safe. When you deflate them, they take up a fraction of the space of a regular fender. You can carry several extras without filling your lockers.

Good companion gifts are a 12V air pump to inflate them and suck the air out when you’re done, and fender covers to protect the fender and your hull.

Image Stabilized Binoculars

While every boat should have binoculars on board, image stabilized binoculars have truly arrived and are great for use on a moving boat. You can spot things at a distance with conventional binoculars, but you can’t easily see the *detail* from a bouncing and shaking boat. It’s the difference between seeing a boat on the horizon and being able to read the name. Or spotting a buoy and seeing the number clearly enough to mark it with confidence.

They’ll also give an enormous boost to your nature watching and sightseeing. Whether it’s seabirds or whales, you’ll see stunning detail when the lenses aren’t shaking. Once you’ve used image stabilized binoculars from your boat, you’ll never want to go back.

You want binoculars which are all-weather, water-proof, and fog resistant for use on your boat.

Portable Seating

Woman sitting on portable seat and drinking coffee on a sailboat
Portable Seat from West Marine

Most folding chairs and camp chairs aren’t great on boats, with feet that are pressure points on fiberglass that can mark and scuff. Folding boat chairs have teak legs, or thick and cushioned caps on the feet to protect the deck. Folding cushion and floor chairs with sun and moisture safe covers are great for sitting up on decks anywhere on the boat. And you can throw them in the dinghy and bring them to the beach or an on-shore BBQ or picnic.

Closed cell foam cushions and pads are also great additions for the cockpit, the decks, and on shore. Closed cell foam doesn’t admit or hold ANY water, so they can get wet and all you need to do is wipe the surface clean. They’re available in custom sets for your cockpit, or in standard sizes you can use like throw pillows anywhere on deck.

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