Category Archives: Marina – Gear, Gadgets & Gifts

Seven Ways to Cover Your Boat

You do cover your boat don’t you? Whether you need something simple to slip over the top while she sits at the dock, or a tight, contoured cover tailored specifically to your boat, one of these seven boat covers should do the job.

V Hull

V-Hull Boat Storage Cover 
I think my favorite thing about this V-Hull Boat Storage Cover is that it doesn’t really look like a boat cover. It looks like a cheap tarp you’d wrap around your deteriorating vessel before parking it next to that ’84 Camaro you’ve had up on blocks since ‘87. It’s made of 300 Denier, which isn’t exactly kryptonite to the elements, but it’ll keep the sun off and the leaves out. And it’s cheap. Sometimes that’s all you need. The V-Hull Boat Storage Cover comes in five sizes from 12 to 22 feet, and you can pick one up for only $49.99.

Vortex

Vortex Heavy Duty V-Hull Cover
The Vortex Heavy Duty V-Hull Cover is another inexpensive cover that looks like it’ll never quite fit how you want it to, but 600 denier polyester is pretty heavy material for the price point. If you just want something to pull over your boat while it’s parked at the pier, this’ll do the job. Plus, Vortex is by far the coolest boat cover name. You can pick up a Vortex for $70.00.

Sportsman

Sportsman 600 Denier Boat Cover
The Budge Sportsman 600 Denier Boat Cover is guaranteed to provide superior protection for your boat. Superior to what, it doesn’t really say. But 600 denier polyester is pretty heavy, and it’s breathable to cut down on mildew. The Sportsman comes in sizes for 12- to 26-foot boats and features a heavy duty shock cord hem and sewn in straps for a “semi-custom like fit.” I love that term. It means the Sportsman will cover your boat, but like every boat cover that isn’t custom-made, it will never cease to piss you off. Oh well. You have to cover your boat, and $110.27 isn’t too bad.

Sportsman 1200

Sportsman 1200 Denier Boat Cover
If you like the Sportsman 600 but want the peace of mind that comes with twice the deniers, the Budge Sportsman 1200 denier boat cover is exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re storing your boat outside, especially over the winter, you want a heavy, waterproof cover. This fits the bill. It has a venting system for breathability, and the seams are taped for added durability and water resistance. The Sportsman 1200 is going to cost you a little more at $191.38, but the protection is worth it.

Carver

Carver Styled-to-Fit boat cover
Carver Styled-to-Fit boat covers are a nice step up from even the nicer one-size-fits-all covers. They cost more, too, but you get something that’s at least reasonably close to the shape your boat. The tighter fit is nicer on the trailer, and it has plenty of tie-downs in addition to the built-in shock cord. You have a choice of materials depending on what kind of protection you’re looking for. Prices start at $347.12.

Ripstop

Ripstop B-1600-X4
Wait, what? Budge makes a boat cover even higher up the chain than the Sportsman 600? Indeed. And that force field is the Ripstop B-1600-X4. This multi-layer cover is made from a durable Ripstop polyester outer layer that is 100 percent waterproof with a UV resistant finish. There’s a breathable waterproof membrane in the middle and a nonabrasive microfiber fleece inner layer to protect your baby. The Ripstop comes in sizes for 12- to 26-foot boats and costs $230.15.

Exact Fit

Exact Fit Boat Covers
Exact Fit Boat Covers are the most tailored of the bunch. They’re patterned for a specific year, make and model, so they hug every curve and contour of your boat. The Sportsman will cover your boat. An Exact Fit will make love to it. Prices start around $440.

10 Best Tubes and Towables for Summer Boating Fun

Teaching your kids to wake board or water ski is great, but sometimes they just want to have fun on the water without having to practice or learn anything. It is summer, after all. So next time they tell you they’re bored, head out to the middle of the lake and whip them around in one of these 10 towables. There’s also a few in here for those of you who just want to float around and drink.

Super Mable

SportsStuff Super Mable
The SportsStuff Super Mable is the front porch rocking chair of inflatables. Just recline comfortably and hang on. It’s perfect for timid kids and adventurous octogenarians. It seats three and can be pulled from the front or back. You can bring Super Mable home for $248.18.

Super Screamer

O’Brien Super Screamer
You’ll scream for joy – or maybe fear – on the O’Brien Super Screamer Towable Tube. It’s a straight forward tube for two, made for Devo-approved whips that will send your annoying nephew cartwheeling across the lake. You can hook it up to your boat for only $159.99.

hot dog

 

Airhead HD-3 Hot Dog
There’s almost nothing better than seeing a few girls bouncing around the lake on a big hot dog. It speaks to the spirit of the American summer. The HD-3 Hot Dog has handles for three, and a high center of gravity that’s perfect sending all three of those riders flying. And like its edible counterpart, the Airhead HD-3 Hot Dog is pretty cheap at only $139.00.

Connelly Convertible

Connelly Convertible
No funny shapes or clever names on this straight-forward tuber’s tube. The low profile and secure handhold options make the Connelly Convertible Towable Tube perfect for warp-speed, water-skimming whips with up to four people. If you’re only going to have one tube in your arsenal, this is a good one. You can pick one up for $172.62.

Connelly Racer

Connelly Racer
Do you tube aggressively? Do you get back to the dock and break down your run and how you might have tubed more effectively? Well then, the Connelly Racer Towable Tube is the ride you’ve been looking for. It’s been engineered to give you full control on the water, and that’s what real tubing is all about. And at $79.96, you’re tubing the dream for less than some rank amateurs.

Gyro

SportsStuff Gyro
Aggressive tubers know that the real thrill comes right at the edge, when you’re way outside the wake and everyone’s watching, and a ripple that wouldn’t rise above a dime could send you catapulting across the water if you don’t fight for control. Well, the SportsStuff Gyro lets you go beyond with 360-degree rotation. Tubing purists might scoff at the swivel connection, but novices will appreciate the novelty. Pick up a Gyro for $200.83. Get a Gyro and fries for $8.99.

booster ball

SportsStuff 4K Booster Ball
The SportsStuff 4K Booster Ball System isn’t a towable so much as it is a tow enabler. It replaces traditional towlines with the inflatable Booster Ball with ropes at both ends. The ball keeps the rope out of the water, which makes for a much smother ride. It isn’t necessary, but neither is an inflatable hotdog, and those are pretty good. Put some performance into your towing with a Booster Ball for just $89.99.

banana taxi

Island Hopper Banana Taxi
Is there a better term in the English language than Banana Taxi? You know how I said it’s always funny seeing people on a Hot Dog? Well, multiply that by 10 and you’ll begin to see the beauty of the banana. It’s made for ridiculousness, and it delivers. Invite 12 of your most-difficult-to-embarrass friends and parade them around for everyone to laugh at. It’s pretty fun. But the fare isn’t cheap: $1,699.99 for a Banana Taxi.

O'Brien Round Up

O’Brien Round Up
If you’re into the whole group thing, check out an O’Brien Round Up Towable Tube. It fits five comfortably. It has handles all the way around and it can skim across the top of the water, but it’s geared more toward getting dragged slowly across the lake while you enjoy some cold liquid refreshment. You can pick up an O’Brien Round Up for $299.99.

Body Glove

Body Glove Inflatable Party Island
Party Island. Need I say more? It has drink holders, a cooler and built-in speaker. The Paradise 4 Aqua Lounge Float and all the sun-soaked debauchery that comes with it can be yours for $332.99.

Five Great Starter Skis

Water skiing is one of those things that gets harder to learn as you get older, so start your kids off right. Give them an opportunity to learn and appreciate one of the greatest pleasures on water. These starter skis are all great option to get your kids up behind the boat.

OBrien AllStars

O’Brien All-Star Trainers Junior Combo Water Skis
O’Brien has been making good skis for a long time, and these 48-inch trainers are perfect for the smallest members of your family ski team. The hardest thing for most kids to learn is keeping their skis together. That problem is solved with these O’Brien All-Star Trainers. They feature a front stabilizer bar and another flexible connecter in back. They fit skiers up to 80 pounds. Trainer rope included. Get your kids started on a pair of O’Brien All-Star Trainers for just $139.

full throttle trainers

Full Throttle Kids Junior Shaped Skis
Bigger kids or even tiny adult humans will do well on these Full Throttle Kids Junior Shaped Skis. They’re 54 inches and rated for up to 140 pounds, and once your new skier gets the hang of it, you can take off those stabilizers and have a regular pair of skis. That’s a pretty good value for only $159.99.

OBrien Platform

O’Brien Platform Eco Trainers Junior Combo Water Skis
If your newest skier in training is especially young or small, these O’Brien Platform Eco Trainers are a good way to go. There’s no worry about skis spreading, crossing or even wobbling with these Eco Trainers. If you kid knows how to stand up, you can teach him or her to skis on these O’Brien Platform Eco Trainers. You can get them for just under $135 on Amazon.

HO SureShot

2014 HO Sure Shot Platform Trainer
I like HO Skis. That’s what I use. My slalom ski doesn’t look much like this HO Sure Shot, but you wouldn’t want to teach your kids on a slalom ski. I like the solid connection between these skis, in a more natural mid-ski position rather than connected at the toes. Another nice thing about the HO Sure Shot is the price – only $106.24.

Airhead

Airhead AHEZ-100 EZ Ski Trainer Inflatable Tube
It’s sort of hard to even consider this Airhead AHEZ-100 EZ Ski Trainer Inflatable Tube to be a pair of skis, but it has skis built in, and it’ll eliminate any intimidation factor. It’s basically a tube they can stand up in, which is a great way for the timid or really young to get a foot in the binding, so to speak. It’s rated for up to 70 pounds and you can pick it up for only $124.22.

Light Up Your Boat

Hanging out in the calm water under the stars is a nice way to spend a summer night. But don’t get caught fumbling around in the dark trying to find another beverage or that fleece you tucked under one of the seats. These lights will all solve that problem, and they’ll make your boat look cool, too.

SuoerNight

SuperNight Flexible Flash Strip
Sixteen feet of LEDs lighting up the floor and seats in your boat will make your passengers feel like they’re up in da club. Bathe your boat in the blue glow and bring on the night. There are 300 LEDs in this 12V SuperNight string, and you can cut it every three lights. This is easily $60 worth of ambiance for only $12.98 through Amazon.

AGPtek

AGPtEK Underwater Drain Plug Light
The AGPtEK underwater 6-LED drain plug light is perfect for fishing and diving. It has a waterproof connector, which is ideal for an underwater electrical device, and it offers three pretty colors – blue, red and green. You can get your AGPtEK light for $37.99 on Amazon.

THMarine

T-HMarineUnderwaterLEDLight
Light up the lake beneath you with this T-HMarine underwater LED light. This light is proven to attract baitfish during night trips, and add ambiance to any vessel. I understand how the baitfish thing could be scientifically proven, but I’m curious what proof they have about the ambiance. You can buy this light on Amazon for only $17.50.

running lights

LED Running Lights
Every boat needs running lights, but most are far more pedestrian than these. This set of 12-inch red and green LED lights will give your boat a much more authoritarian feel. Throw on a badge and you can probably pull people over. They’re only $16.95 on Amazon, and you’re required to have running lights anyway, so you pretty much have to buy them.

light bar

Lazer Blue 5 LED Light Bar
Add this blue light bar to the running lights above and you have the full law enforcement package, guaranteed to make everyone else on the lake nervous. The Lazer Blue light bar has chrome body with 5ive super bright LEDs. Amazon has it for only $6.19.

Five Things You Need in Your Boat

If you’ve never owned a boat, or if you’ve never been very good at owning a boat, the following five accessories will help snap you into shape. Leave shore without them and face great peril at sea.

key chain

Floating Key Chain
This is day-one stuff here. Keys don’t float. It sucks when they sink. Buy a floating key chain. It really doesn’t matter what kind. I like the soft squishy ones like this Lucky Line Soft Key Float. You might like one that looks like a miniature life ring. Not my thing, but that’s fine. The important this is that you keep your keys afloat. You can pick up a Lucky Line on Amazon for only $4.49.

safety whistle

Shoreline Marine Safety Whistle
The pea-less design of this safety whistle enables operation in both wet and dry conditions. That’s good. You don’t want to be the guy who drowns because he goes overboard and his marine safety whistle is only rated for dry conditions. This is the Basic model, so no special skills or training are required. Just connect your lips and apply air. Amazon is offering this life-saver for only $3.81.

Dock line

Good Dock Lines
Don’t skimp on your ropes. It just makes your boating life more difficult. Polypro ropes are for skiing. They dry out and leave little splinters in your hands when they’re left out. Softer braided nylon will save your hands and it’s a lot easier to tie off on the cleat. This SeaSense Double Braid Nylon Dockline is what you’re after, and you can get 15 feet of it through Amazon for as little as $8.38.

paddle

Paddle
Most states require you to have one in your boat. You never want to use it, but you’ll be happy you have it when you’re broke down out on the water with jet skiers screaming by completely oblivious to your troubles. This Kwik Tek P-3 Telescoping Paddle is easy to stow, and the boat hook could come in handy, too. Get it through Amazon for only $21.99.

extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher
A lot of people don’t worry about boat fires because boats are typically surrounded by water. Most of those people have never had the wiring under their steering console burst into flames between their legs. An extinguisher seems like a pretty good idea at that point. If you own a boat, you need one. This Kidde Mariner5 is Coast Guard certified an you can get it for $26.05 at Amazon.com.

Vintage Outboard Motor Signs

If owning a boat isn’t enough, if you need to bring that feeling you have on the lake inside to the walls of your cabin, but don’t have the flow to go original, these cheap reproduction signs are perfect for you. Quaint, strange and comical for mostly unintentional reasons, these advertising signs are a nautical decorating bargain at well under $20.

Evinrude electric

The thing that’s cool about this Evinrude sign is one of the originals hung in my house growing up. My grandpa was an Evinrude dealer. One of the oldest in Wisconsin. You’re not that cool. You’ll have to settle for a reproduction sign, but that’s OK. Most of your friends won’t know the difference anyway. They’ll all just think you have panache and a wonderful nautical style – not to mention that fancy electric starter on your boat. Nothing says worlds of fun like a soft touch. “Let’s go – just touch the buttons!”

jOHNSON SEA HORSE

What goes like a bat on regular fuel … digs salt water, large loads and a hard time? Answer: the new Sea-Horse 40. And a crazy art history major I knew in college. Her act wasn’t that original, and neither is this “vintage look” reproduction Johnson Outboards sign. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it and show your own reproductive style. I mean, it’s worth the $16.95 just for the jokes about large loads.

Mercury tang

Hanker for the scent of pine on a mountain lake, or the salty tang of an ocean breeze? Well you’ll just have to settle for the salty tang of this reproduction Mercury Outboards sign. But you can hang this fake vintage sign on a pine tree. Or stuff a pine tree air freshener in your shirt pocket and snort a line of salt if you really want to capture the spirit. This Mercury advertising sign is your invitation to outboard living. $16.95 is a small price to pay for a lifestyle.

Evinrude gypsy

The writing on these signs is fabulous. “Here’s a prize to stir your Gypsy blood! A gay and glamorous houseboat-of-the-future.” To be sure, the boat pictured looks to be a hell of a craft, with twin Evinrude outboards. And it’s occupants definitely seem glamorous. I particularly like the angry looking seagulls above the canopy. I can’t tell if it’s faux rust or if the gulls are spraying blood, but I prefer that picture. The tension makes for a stronger story line. The gay and glamorous are only an arm’s reach from a bloody fight for survival. Maybe that wasn’t the intent, but for only $16.95 you can buy this (fake) old Evinrude sign and have long philosophical conversation about the concealed themes.

Johnson kid

I feel like any kid with that look on his face, wearing that strange little polka-dotted life vest/kidney protector, shouldn’t be given the controls of anything motorized. Probably anything that isn’t rubberized. Get him a helmet and some wrist guards, too. The beauty of this vintage Johnson outboard sign, however, is in the words. “Kids love to man ‘em, too … Sweetest-running Johnsons ever!” I mean, really? The writing was so innocent, but it’s pretty damn funny now. If you like to post statements about your Johnson on the walls of your home, this vintage sign is perfect for you. And at $16.95, you can even double up.

Kiss Me

I can only imagine how desperate the guy with a “Kiss Me, I’m an Outboard Motor Mechanic” sign must be. But that’s not you. Of course not. You’re a dashing man who makes time with all the pretty gals. And maybe this delightfully tacky sign suits your style perfectly. The $11.95 price tag might seem a little stiff, but you don’t mind. You’ve got style. And style doesn’t come cheap.

Five Inexpensive Wakeboards for Beginner and Intermediate Girls

Girl’s gotta ride the wake too! Looking for an inexpensive, beginner wakeboard to get the ladies in your boat hooked on jumping waves behind the bulging ballast bags on your inboard tow machine? Look no further than these five wakeboards that all cost right around $150 designed just for women.

Gator Lexy Womens Wakeboard
If a little yellow bowtie can make a skull look cute and girly, the Gator Lexy Wakeboard has accomplished just that. Bad-ass girly.

Well, hello wakeboard with a cute little skull and a yellow ribbon in your (once was) hair. The Gator Lexy is a beginner wakeboard for girls who don’t mind being called chicks. ‘Cuz let’s face it, if you ride the Lexy you’re badass and want the world to know it. Maybe you’d never wear a yellow ribbon in your hair, but skulls don’t have hair and everyone needs a little accessorizing, even a zombie. The Lexy wakeboard measures in at 137cm, a little on the big side for fast & easy starts, and is aimed at women riders from 75-130 pounds. You should be able to find the Gator Lexy for less than 125 bucks – boots and yellow bow not included. Buy the Gator Lexy wakeboard.

Liquid Force Angel Womens Wakeboard
The Liquid Force Angel gets updated every year with a new design. If your little angel can accept last year’s Angel design you can save a few bucks.

The Liquid Force Angel is for little princesses that certainly don’t want a skull on their wakeboard. Although not a true beginner’s wakeboard, the Angel, if you can find a previous model year’s design is a good value at generally around $150 depending on the size and design. Like the Lexy, you’ll still need to get your own boots. The Liquid Force Angel will allow you a little more aggressive cutting power than a beginner board, but should still allow-entry level females some forgiveness, just like any angel should. Buy the Liquid Force Angel wakeboard.

Ronix Crush Womens Wakeboard
The Ronix Krush boasts “secret flex” and “blended energy” which absolutely make you a better wakeboarder.

The Ronix Krush Wakeboard is another women’s wakeboard that changes design year over year. So unless you have a crush on a certain Krush design the closeout models can be purchased for much less than the current board. This example, the Ronix Krush Polkadot is a 134cm example of a great beginner/intermediate wakeboard that will have your teenage girl taking high-flying selfies from the back of  her tow rope. You can lace up the Ronix Krush (after you buy your boots) and cut up the lake for right around $150. Buy the Ronix Krush wakeboard.

CWB Lotus Womens Wakeboard
This is one fugly women’s wakeboard. Are those feathers?

If theft is a problem in your area the CWB Board Co. Lotus is just the wakeboard for you. Nobody is stealing this ugly-ass wakeboard. Adorned with pink flamingo feathers it’s no wonder this 134cm wakeboard can purchased for less than $175. Girls deserve something cooler and CWB used to make some designs people actually wanted to purchase before the graphic design team started hallucinating. Though the Lotus is still a good starter board and like most wakeboards at this price point you’ll have to get some really ugly boots to go with it. Buy the CWB Board Co Lotus wakeboard.

Hyperlite Eden Womens Wakeboard
This Eden ain’t no biblical garden, it’s a wake-carving machine.

The Hyperlite Eden women’s wakeboard might be named after a biblical garden, but it’s design is all modern. This is another beginner wakeboard that comes in either 130 or 135cm sizes. The best part is this board can be found online for well under $150. The Hyperlite logo is done up in a ransom-letter-like font and some colors that make it a cool board for both gals and the guy friends that may want to borrow it. Buy the Hyperlite Eden wakeboard.

Best wax, oil & polish for boat cleaning and detailing

‘Tis that time of the year when you clean a winter’s worth of dead bugs, dust and nesting mice from your hibernating boat and bring it back to sea-worthy glory. Mouse poop and dust are one thing, but here are a few products that receive high consumer marks for cleaning and detailing your boat to look like new again. Rejoice rodent fecal haters, marine cleaning help is on the way.

303 Products Marine Protectant
This is “Aerospace Protectant” – if it’s good enough for NASA, it’s damn sure fine enough for the vinyls seats on your Four Winns.

303 Aerospace Protectant is a UV-blocker designed specifically for marine applications. While you’re getting your bronze on, your boat’s vinyl seats are drying out like a grape morphing into a raisin. Think of 303 Aerospace Protectant as a sunscreen for your boat’s vinyl. With a name like Aerospace Protectant, you can tell they’re not fucking around, this stuff is the equivalent of keeping your vinyl as white as your ass. More than 1,000 Amazoners say this marine & boat vinyl protector works, so who am I to judge when they’ve already done the testing? Available in quantities from 2 ounces to 5 gallons, try before you buy and if it works, stock up and use it on your pancakes. 303 also makes a marine carpet and upholstery cleaner, which receives high marks for removing Cheeto stains. Yeah, better get you some.

Star Brite Teak Oil
Keeping your wood oiled up prevents premature graying.

For those of you affluent enough to actually have boats with genuine teak wood in them, an annual application of teak oil is as important as whitening your teeth. Starbrite Premium Grade Teak Oil makes your old wood look new again. My boats all have simulated teak-grain finish, that eliminates the need for maintenance, but sure doesn’t scream “I killed trees to impress my neighbors” like genuine teak does. Pay no attention to me, I’m just jealous of your wood. Rub this oil on your wood vigorously and generously to maintain a warm teaky glow on furniture, docks, helms and swim platforms. Yeah, better get you some.

Meguiars Marine Restoration System
Now that’s a lot of bottles, but damn it, if you’d take care of your boat’s finish, all this work wouldn’t be necessary.

If your boat looks like a chalkboard it’s most likely caused by oxidation. For those of you who slept through junior high school science class, oxidation happens when oxygen molecules interact with a material – in this case, your boat’s dinghy fiberglass. Meguiar’s Marine and Fiberglass Restoration System is designed to remove the oxidation, add a protective film, then shine it all up like like a polished nickel. Now if that were one step, that would be nice, but this one is three, so it’s gonna take some old-fashioned time and elbow grease to get your boat looking good again, but at least you know Meguiar’s packages it all together nicely so you can avoid return trips to WalMart. Yeah, better get you some.

Mothers Marine Spray Wax
Spray on, wipe off, now that’s my kind of boat detailing.

Now this little boat-detailing number gets a full-on five star review from boat buffs like you. Mother’s Marine Spray Wax is for general upkeep and shine. It’s the go-to spray after you spent the better part of three weekends applying Meguiar’s. It promises to remove water spots and general grime from your boat.  Anybody concerned with water spots on a boat has some sort of OCC-ish disorder and most likely is just polishing the thing on a trailer in the garage anyway. So hey, garage polishers, why not use the best boat detailing wax – 16 solid Amazon recommendations can’t be misguided. Yeah, better get you some.