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I’ve seen a couple of Christmas Gifts for Boaters lists going around the internet the past few days. As articles like that often contain a bunch of fluff, I decided to put together my own list. Included below are a selection of items that we either have on board right now and covet, or things that I hope Santa brings me this Christmas. In other words, gifts that a real cruising sailor would no doubt love to have on his/her boat.

1. Let’s start with a big one, a Fein Multimaster. I spent much of the last week stuck in a locker, working on a multi-faceted project. This tool would have been very helpful for me. Santa, are you paying attention?

If your personal shopper wanted a lesser-priced version of the Fein, the Mercedes Benz of multitools, Dremel makes an excellent one too.

2. Another tool that I would love to have on board is a Makita 18V Cordless Angle Grinder. I’ve had to borrow a grinder twice in the past two weeks, once to cut through some heavy stainless steel chain, and the second time, just the other day, to grind off some fiberglass. In a really bad situation, if your boat was dismasted, this tool could even be used to quickly cut the rig free from the boat. Let’s hope you don’t have to put that to the test!

3. You can never have enough ventilation on a boat, and the Caframo 12V Marine Fans work well to increase the airflow. They push a fair amount of air, are quiet, and draw only a small amount of electricity. We presently have three on board and I’d like to have a few more.

4. There’s no question, an iPad is a real boon to boaters. Whichever model you choose, make sure that you select a cellular version (not the Wi-Fi only version), even if you never activate a cellular plan with it. This is important as only the cellular ones have a real built-in GPS, and you’re going to want that capability to run one of the excellent navigation apps that are available. Don’t forget to select a waterproof case for it too so that you can safely use it in the cockpit.

5. Everyone needs a good knife and on a boat, this rust-free version from Spyderco is excellent. I have the same knife from Spyderco but mine is made from one of their other steels, and as you can imagine, in the salt air, it gets rusty. Our friend had this one though and it was spotless!

6. If you’ve ever had to loosen a nut while hanging upside down in a locker, with no space to move a standard wrench, you know how frustrating, and time consuming it can be. You’ll appreciate having a set of short ratcheting wrenches. Believe me!

7. Having a good set of polarized sunglasses is a necessity. Unfortunately, most sunglasses don’t swim as well as their owners. This is why the Barz Floating Sunglasses rock!

8. Our new boat came with a hodgepodge of glasses, but sadly, nowhere among them was a Tervis Tumbler. These double-walled drinking glasses are the bomb. They keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. We all need these.

9. If you’ve ever had to get underway early, before you’ve finished your morning coffee, or had to stand watch at night, you know how important it is to have a nice travel mug to keep your beverages hot, and prevent them from spilling all over you as the boat moves. Here is a nice one.

10. Unfortunately, fishing lures have a way of getting lost. Because of that, it’s always nice to have a selection of lures, in various colors and styles to choose from. Fortunately most fish aren’t that choosy. You don’t need to spend a bunch of cash to find something that will work. We prefer squid-type lures with realistic-looking eyes, and I think the Mahi Mahi and Tuna do too!

11. You do NOT want to be one of those people with a story about how your laptop computer, stored only in a non-waterproof bag, got hit by a rogue wave and destroyed as you were trying to take it to or from shore in your dinghy. We all need a good Waterproof Dry Bag. I have used this one for a couple of years now and I can attest to its quality and effectiveness. I never leave the boat without it!

12. Even if your boat is equipped with a multi-speaker sound system, having a nice waterproof portable speaker set is a good thing. Just imagine how popular you’ll be at that beach party!

13. In addition to carrying a portable VHF radio with you when you’re out in your tender (we prefer the Icom M24 VHF Radio), having an anchor in your dinghy is also an important safety device. Our boat came with a crappy one but if Santa’s listening, this is what I’d prefer to have: a Dinghy Anchor from Mantus Anchors.

14. I bet you could have guessed that something like this would make it onto my list. Are you planning on making any New Year’s fitness resolutions? Having a TRX Suspension Trainer on board will make achieving your goals that much easier!


  1. Nice list …I’d take one of each, retail value of ??????

  2. I’d never even heard of the oscillating multi-tool (Fein Multimaster, etc.) until about two years ago. Now it’s one of my favourite tools, I reach for it all the time. (Mine is a CT Mastercraft…. 1/4 the price of the Fein, and the tool itself is very nearly as good, but the blades included with the kit are rather low quality. Good blades for these things are hard to find!)

    I’m looking at the TRX…. and looking at the 60ft radio tower on the side of the house…. and thinking hey, that might be a good idea. Do you folks usually just wrap it around the mast, or hoist it up to the spreaders, or….?

    • We attach the TRX/Aerosling in different ways on different boats. In general though, yes, it is attached around the mast. We typically rig a loop of line around the mast and connect the suspension trainer to it. The trick is to get it at the ideal height.

  3. Great list.

    1. I picked up the Dremel version a few years ago to re-grout (great for that). Funny thing is, I haven’t used it much since. I guess I learned my craft with other tools and have yet to integrate it into my planning. For a boat kit, though, where multi-purpose matters, yup. nice choise since it replaces a finish sander.

    2. I get one with a cord. I have a DeWalt grinder that I have worked HARD for 20 years, both at work grinding steel, at home, and on the boat. I just can’t see a battery lasting through big jobs, as this is a high power tool. Sand, shape, grind, and cut-off. This is my number 3 most used power tool, behind drill and circular saw. You get to be an artist with practice (my father carved a totem pole with one using a chain saw carving attachment).

    3. Bought 4 after my Hella Turbos caught fire or smoked. Nice.

    4, 5, and 6. Yup.

    7. I’m a cheap sunglasses guy. I sit on them.

    8 and 9. I drink too fast.

    10 and 11. Yup.

    12. Not me.

    13. You know I like that one! Watch out for the sharp factory point (cut my hand opening the box).

    14. Yup, I keep a few lines on the tramp with loops for just that purpose. Not TRX, I’m ashamed to say. I’m sure it is the Benz of the market.

    My list? I’m unemployed, so we cancelled Christmas. And honestly, I’ve got too much stuff already. But…

    1. AC for the boat would be nice. I’m working on it. I have until June.

    2. I cheated and bought new ice climbing gloves. The season approaches!

    3. 5 mm gloves and a 3/5 mm hood to go with my dry suit. With a mask, it almost makes swimming in 40F water fun!

    Favorite boat nick-nak? I covet gloves like some covet the perfect knife. But they don’t have to be expensive. I like the 10 for $3 red/white coated palm type for all types of work. I like Ronstan full finger sailing gloves. I like orange freezer gloves for cold, muddy chain. I like relatively thin alpine climbing gloves for most winter sailing. Mostly, I like good fit.

  4. Where can you buy the squid lure from? I want to try on my way down to the keys.

    • You can pretty much get lures like that anywhere that they sell salt water tackle. That’s why I didn’t post a specific link for them.

  5. The Fein MultiMaster is now available in a cordless version; just as good as the original!

  6. What a great list – thanks Mike!

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