If you're planning to treat yourself and your loved ones to something special this Christmas, hopefully the list below might provide some inspiration. But whatever you decide, don't forget to order your Christmas cards from the RNLI shop. They're not all nautical, but there is a good marine themed selection.
Marine Gift Card
An idea so good, it's hard to believe it doesn't already exist. Launched at the Southampton Boat Show (see our great Show preview) and backed by inComm, the world's largest eGiftcard company, the idea behind marinegiftcards.com is to enable the boaty people in your life to select their own presents, rather than leaving you to try and guess what exactly they might like.
Henri Lloyd is currently the only seller signed up to the system – but any cards purchased this Christmas will be valid at any participating businesses online once they wake up, sign up and smell the coffee! See Marine Gift Cards.
Seamanship in the Age of Sail
Seamanship in the 20th and 21st century could well be mistaken for a science rather than an art. Of course, the sea gets the final say, as it did so tragically with the "unsinkable" Titanic, but it is interesting to note that sailors themselves are rarely just passengers on board the latest design creation. Take the 2013 AC72 America's Cup catamarans that were not designed to fly above the water. The designers said it couldn't happen – the sailors didn't listen. It was down to the Emirates Team New Zealand boys doing what professional sailors have done since the dawn of time: learn the rules, master the official procedure then dump it overboard and listen to the ship to see what makes it hum. John Harland's classic text "Seamanship in the Age of Sail" has now been in print for over 30 years to painstakingly preserve that which the world's mariners have learned at sea, rather than the theoretical limits their boats were designed within. The perfect gift for the armchair admiral of the family.
Onward Trading teak folding cup holder
Also at the Southampton Boat Show was a company called Onward Trading and their distinctive range sustainable teak furniture and accessories, including this teak folding cup holder for one glass, can or bottle. Folds flat when not in use. Ticks the box for being stylish as well as practical. See Onward Trading.
Crewsaver Artemis Pro buoyancy aid
Back with the America's Cup... Crewsaver's official team buoyancy aid includes a pouch for the sailors' emergency air supply and spinal protection and body armour in case of high-speed impacts. The Artemis Pro is the version for sale to the public. Looks good – does the job.
Beds on board
Treat yourself to a luxury city break by booking a yacht for the night in London (from £135 per night on a 34ft cruising yacht at St Katherine's Dock). Or perhaps a bargain holiday aboard a 24ft Westerly Pageant in Liverpool's Coburg Dock for £35 per night is more your scene. With options in Melbourne, Toronto and plenty in the Solent, this could catch on! See Beds on Board.
Lewmar anchor-shaped bottle opener
Obviously drinking and boating is not a subject to shrug off lightly, but boat-themed drinks and accessories are ultimately some of the best Christmas presents ever!
Beken yachting calendar
A gorgeous new calendar is a lovely present and if you want to be really extravagant, why not go super-size! Beken offers a range of calendars, including on that's A2 in size. Just ensure your recipient has enough space on the wall to show it off to full effect.
Minn Kota Ulterra – "Never touch your motor again"
The devilishly clever, ultra-convenient Minn Kota Ulterra is a specialist "smart electric outboard engine" that is popular in the USA freshwater fishing community and has applications on the bigger lakes in the UK. It’s a near-silent, electric outboard with a very long shaft that needs space to stow horizontally on the deck (usually the bow) of the fishing boat (it's ideally suited to the totally flat platform fishing boats).
At the touch of a button – specialist foot-control pads are available so you never have to leave your rod unattended – the motor will stow or deploy itself. Then, with its built-in sonar and GPS, it will hold the boat in position, follow a contour line on the seabed, or trace a pattern along a predetermined route. One thing is abundantly clear – there’s never been a worse time to be a fish! See Marathon Leisure.
Dad’s Boats: Pedal Boat
The term pedal boat conjures up images of something slightly more refined than the rows of tired, rotomoulded sun-bleached toys for hire on Weymouth beach or at a big city park. But Dad’s Boats Pedal Boat is even more refined than that. All hand-made, all wooden hull – including the propeller – there is a clever bit of engineering in the middle enabling two pedallers to face each other and turn the propeller in tandem. It would make an extravagant, once-in-a-lifetime gift.
Digital Yacht WL70 marine wifi booster
It's a sad indictment of the modern era (or maybe it's just me!) that the denial of wireless internet access is viewed less as an inconvenience and more as a denial of one's basic human rights (usually only momentarily). For internet users afloat, the Digital Yacht WL70 provides a useful boost to wi-fi reception range offering distances of up to 1km from hotspots in marinas, cafes etc. It's a simple plug and play USB connection for PC and Macs and costs just £125 ex VAT. See Digitalyacht.
JL Audio speakers
Perhaps I nodded off for a moment and it was all a dream, but I'm pretty certain that at this year’s Southampton Boat Show, there was a large grey robot-type thing rolling all over Mayflower Park performing a kind of creepy-comedy-cabaret act (and drawing the crowds too, I might add). Anyway, the all-dancing all-singing transformer belonged to a company called Landau, which also happens to be responsible for importing “America’s leading marine audio manufacurer” JL Marine speakers, amplifiers and subwoofers. So if you know of a mariner with more than just sonar and VHF frequencies on his (or her) mind – this is the one-stop shop. See J L Audio Marine or Landau.
Reeds Nautical Almanac
Buy it for someone else. It’s a tough thing to spend your money on each year, year after year, but when it’s needed, it’s needed and there is no substitute. Solid choice. See Adlard Coles Nautical.
Standard Horizon HX300E
The HX300E handheld VHF radio from Standard Horizon is compact, full of indestructible features and costs (just) less than £100. The five-inch body is easily pocketable and battery capacity is rated at 10 hours. The waterproof unit floats face-up and a red strobe is activated on contact with the water – even if the unit is switched off. There is a time-out switch limiting single transmissions to five minutes in order to prevent unintentional channel blocking. It is ATIS enabled (for anyone considering EU inland waterways this is a requirement) and recharging is via USB (of course!). A bargain at the price and a great present.
Zhik beanie fleece
Some brands just have that magic – Gill, Musto, Neil Pryde, RayBans, Billabong... they’ve all been there, done that and are now cashing in nicely.
They start out hardcore, pure, technical. Young and hungry. Then, after a decade or so, everyone’s a bit older and tired and there’s a new young gun in town. Now in the technical arena it is the Australian brand – Zhik. Of course, they are already laying the groundwork to cash in big time, branching away from exclusive dinghy products and into yacht, keelboat and “lifestyle”, but for now, if you have a teenager to buy a present for this Christmas who is into sailing, surfing, beach sports of any description – this Zhik beanie could be the thing.
Exposure Marine MOB light
It’s a normal light, but on contact with water, it floats and strobes, meaning an MOB can swim for it and guide the boat back to them. Last year's DAME award winner at the Marine Exhibition and Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam, there are dozens of testimonials from sailors of all sorts online – including Dee Caffari, who wore hers constantly aboard Team SCA during the Volvo Ocean Race.
See also 15 Christmas gift ideas for sailors and 10 Christmas gift ideas for powerboaters.