Gift Ideas for Cruisers

5 Dec

Is someone you know planning and preparing for a long cruise in 2020?  Whether the plan is to cruise to  Maine, Canada, do “the Loop”, or heading down the ICW, here are a few ideas which cruisers  might find to be thoughtful and useful gifts.

  1. Stabilized Binoculars – There is some debate about what is the best set of stabilized binoculars. There is no debate that stabilized binoculars of any sort are an asset. We found that a pair of Cannon 10×30 binoculars has been superb  for 11 ICW transits.  The numbers mean it has 10 times magnification and a 30mm lenses.  The larger the lenses, the better low light capability.  However, keep in mind that you are operating in daylight most of the time.  We found ours to be perfectly adequate at night too. This is one product where  higher price may not always be a better solution. 
  2. Tablet Navigation App
    1. Navionics “Marine and Lakes” App There are many tablet navigation apps. None are better than the Navionics app for iPads and iPhone.  The Navionics Sonar Charts (crowd sourced bathymetry) are very helpful with rich depth detail that is not available on any other navigation or charting system.   In many shallow areas you can drive your boat along the deeper parts of the channel as shown on these charts.  The time to way point  route function and auto route are an invaluable tool.
    2. Aqua Map and Aqua Map Master Aqua Map charts are NOAA Charts with Aqua Map updates 4 times per year. With Aqua Map Master ($10/yr. subscription) you will have the ability to overlay the US Army Corps of Engineers color-coded hydrographic surveys on the chart. These surveys cover shipping channels and high traffic channels along the ICW and some interconnected waterways. The USACE surveys only cover the channel in the most heavily traveled corridors. There is a “Route Explorer” which will check your routes for potential hazards along the way, potential bridge interference, and fuel options. This app also provides Active Captain Integration. and Waterway Guide Integration.
  3. Wireless headset communications system. Also known in the boating community as Marriage Savers . Hands free duplex headset communication gear is such an unexpected help.  We all think we don’t need it.  We can yell, we could use our phones etc.  Popular brand  names are
    1. Eartec,
  4. Dock lines. Having a couple of very long dock lines will be useful.  I cannot tell  you when you will need them but when you do, nothing else will do. We suggest no less than 10 lines, including two lines  twice the length of the boat .

4. Gift certificate for a marina stay in a charming town. Beaufort NC, Myrtle Beach, SC, Georgetown SC, Charleston SC, Beaufort SC, Isle of Hope GA, Fernandina FL and St Augustine FL, are terrific towns to stop, explore and catch your breath.

5. Cruising guides.

  1. Bob and Ann Sherer known as Bob423 along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) publish a very detailed and complete guide.   Included are chapters on Basic ICW Knowledge and ICW University with in depth on topics of interest to cruisers. All charts have been updated and redone with Aqua Map’s rendition of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) survey charts that include my track through the over 100 shallow areas in a blue dotted line and in many cases, a GPX route too so you will know exactly how to proceed. Each of the 12 legs of the trip south to Key West is now introduced with a wide area chart showing the hazards ahead with mile markers for planning a day’s cruise. The purchase incudes access to a page by page list of active links on the blog site at
  2. Waterway Guide- Includes contact information and facility details on  4,000 Marinas. Covers Thousands of anchorages.  Contains Mile-by-Mile Navigation information covering bridge details, lock details and highlighted alerts & cautions. The guides are full of full-color aerial photographs and a brief description of the  important services and facilities of hundreds of towns along the coast.
  3. ICW & Atlantic Coast Mile by Mile Guide takes boaters every step of the way on their ICW adventure, from planning to execution. The book walks readers through the resources they’ll need, from charts to free government resources. Then it reviews the best apps for navigation, weather, and anchoring. Finally, it takes readers step by step through the skills they’ll need along the way, from opening a bridge, transiting a lock, reading the water and working out a daily stress-free plan. In the second section, the Guide becomes an invaluable cockpit guide, leading travelers down the ICW from Norfolk to Key West, mile-by-mile, with marina locations and descriptions, tried and true anchorages, trouble spots, bridge schedules, as well as descriptions of popular destinations and must-see cities. All with plenty of useful photos.

6. Education and Training. Nothing makes  you cruising life  more stress free, than being fully informed and  prepared on the subject.

  1. For overall cruiser education and training, nothing tops the offerings at Cruisers’ University offered during the Annapolis shows every April and October.
  2. For ICW specific information, training and comradery, the Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous in mid-October is hugely popular gathering of southbound cruisers for 2 days of ICW specific navigation seminars, and technical seminars on boat systems tucked into 4 days of social events.

7. Inflatable Fenders When you’re out cruising you will be docking under a wide variety of conditions of wind, weather, current, and fixed and floating structures. Four fenders are not enough.  Storage space for additional fenders is always a challenge.  A simple solution is inflatable fenders.  These fenders are larger than standard boat fenders but deflate into a volume about the size of a standard backpack.


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