Whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift, a Chanukah present, or a Kwanza surprise, one thing is for sure: you want to make that special sailor in your life smile. Here are 10 great holiday gifts that will put the “happy” in happy holidays.

Airis HardTop SUP

airis hardtop

Walker Bay’s  construction is thicker (six inches) than other inflatable boards, and can be inflated to a higher PSI so the Airis Hardtop is stiffer than most inflatable SUPs.

When anchored in that picture-perfect cove next summer, your favorite sailor may want to pull out the water toys and go exploring. A great way to combine discovery with exercise is a stand-up paddle board. Because sailboats are notoriously space-constrained, the Airis HardTop inflatable SUP from Walker Bay is the answer. This 11-foot paddleboard comes with RigidDeck non-skid fiberglass pads for comfortable footing when standing, but you can also sit on the board with an optional kayak seat attachment. Bungee deck lacing keeps gear in place and a removable skeg helps tracking performance. The board comes with a high-pressure adjustable two-way pump, three carrying handles, a stowage bag, and a D-ring for an ankle leash.

Price: With the paddle and kayak seat, expect to pay upwards of $1,000. Visit Walker Bay for more information.

Hydra Dive Mask

For some serious fun below the waterline, consider a dive mask with a built-in camera that you don’t even need to hold. The Liquid Image Hydra Series 305 mask has an integrated camera that does both stills and video and is easy to manage even with diving gloves on. High definition 12 megapixel stills (with continuous shot mode available) or 1280 x 720 video is possible, and with the 120-degree wide angle lens, you can easily capture the scene all around you.

liquid image hydra

The Liquid Image Hydra mask camera is certified to depths of 130’.

The 305 model comes in a medium mask skirt made of soft transparent grey/black silicone, is powered by four AAA batteries, and stores images on an external memory card up to 32 GB. A USB cable is included.

Price: $120. Visit Liquid Image for more information.

Kaenon Pintail Sunglasses

It may be dark and gloomy now that it’s winter, but it seems there’s no end to glare on the deck of a sailboat. Californian sunglass manufacturer Kaenon has the answer with their Pintail frames and polarized lenses. The frames are light to minimize fatigue, and flexible so they’re less likely to break. The frames are finished in matte or gloss and come with hypoallergenic recessed Variflex nose pads for comfort. The SR-91 polarized lenses are offered in grey, brown and copper tints and the crisp clarity minimizes distortion so you’ll see equally well on bright or cloudy days.

kaenon sunglasses

All sailors need a good pair of shades, and the Keanon Pintail fits the bill.

Kaenon’s Pintail glasses can be fitted with prescription lenses so prices may vary, but they start at around $200. Visit Kaenon for more information.

My Team Talks Headset

When the wind is up and the rode is wrapped on something the helmsman can’t see, hand signals from the bow don’t cut it. With the help of headset developer Sena, Cruising Solutions has brought the My Team Talks Bluetooth Headset to the boating market. The headset is completely wireless, hands-free, and connects up to four headsets or can be interfaced with a smartphone. The sets are water-resistant and have line-of-sight transmission up to 2,700 feet. A voice prompt lets you know when the headset is turned on, is connected to your phone, or has a low battery.

my team talks

Thanks to the way the My Team Talks headset hooks onto your ear from the back, they don’t slip off.

Price: $360 per pair. For more information visit Cruising Solutions.

Optrix PhotoProX iPhone Case

It’s a given that today’s modern sailors capture onboard photos and videos mostly with their phones—who carries a camera these days? But it’s also a given that anything on deck is subject to salty spray, and that means you need a protective case. There are lots of cases available for phones but many are cumbersome, or difficult to use when shooting pictures. Now, iPhone (5 and 6) users can opt for the Optrix case. It includes four interchangeable camera lenses (fish-eye, macro, telephoto, and low-profile,) so you can get the effect you seek without ever taking the phone out of the case.


The Optrix PhotoProx is made of hard plastic, is waterproof, and comes with a protective bag and wrist lanyard.

Price: $170. Visit Optrix for more info.

Quickline Rope Reel

After the day’s sail, a picturesque anchorage will be in order. And for those tight spots where fore and aft anchoring is a must, Quickline’s Rope Reel is a great way to stow hundreds of feet of rode in a tidy package that's easily accessible. The flat, 1 3/8” polyester line/webbing has a breaking strength of 8,000 pounds and is available on reels of three diameters: 15, 18 and 21 inches. They hold 135, 200 and 265 feet of line respectively. Another option is one-inch yellow polypropylene line that floats, is mildew-resistant, and has a breaking strength of 7,000 pounds. The line stretches as loads increase to absorb shock, it doesn’t snag, and it has a stainless-steel pre-spliced eye on one end that quickly attaches to an anchor or a towing bridle.


Have you ever seen an anchor line stowed this neatly? We didn't think so.

Price: The 135’ reel starts at $595. Expect to pay another $100 if you want the stanchion mounting kit. For more information, visit Quickline.

Sailing Books

Curling up with a good book in the cockpit is every sailor’s delight and when it’s too cold to sail, books will tide sailors over until the snowdrifts melt. Consider The Godforsaken Sea by Derek Lundy, a hair-raising tale of the 1996-97 Vendee Globe. Or for old-time round-the world racing, pick A Voyage of Madmen by Peter Nichols. It chronicles a 1966 publicity stunt that turned into the first Golden Globe Race. In North to the Night, Alvah Simon winters in the Arctic on his 36-foot sailboat with only his cat for company. And for a sailor who appreciates the classics, there’s The Cruise of the Snark, Jack London’s adventures in the South Seas.

jack london

With a blanket, a cup of hot chocolate and a gift card to Amazon, your literary sailor will be happy as a clam until Spring.

For more information, visit Amazon.

Smartphone Apps

The holiday gift budget has gone bust? Then how about something small and affordable, like an iPhone app? Award winning Navionics has brought a chartplotter literally to the palm of your hand, and now it’s easier than ever to download large sections of chart data like the U.S. and Canada for just $14.99. You can view charts with a satellite overlay, do route planning, set waypoints, find marinas, and more. The zoom creates crisp, clear chart sections that give you great detail including depth contours, aids to navigation, and hazards—just like a dedicated marine chartplotter.

navionics app

The Navionics app can turn your phone or tablet into a chartplotter.

Another app, AyeTides, displays tides and currents for nearly 10,000 stations worldwide. You can choose a station alphabetically, geographically or nearest to your location based on the phone’s GPS. Get sunrise, sunset, tide height and direction, and a graph of that day for just $7.99.

The ShipFinder app morphs your iPhone into an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver. This is a great safety app that gives you information from vessels in your vicinity that are broadcasting data about their speed, course, size, and more. In most cases you even get a photo of the ship, and—it’s free.

For more information, visit iTunes or Google Play.

Read more about nautical apps in:

Augmented Reality: New Features in Navigation Apps
Marine Weather Apps for your Smartphone
10 Navigation Apps and Smartphone Hits for Boaters

Weems and Plath LIGHTrule


What's that ship out there in the darkness? You'll know, with the LIGHTrule.

Ever wonder what kind of boat that is, bearing down on you in the dark? Want to decipher those pesky day shapes, or whistle sounds in the fog? Here’s a handy reference tool that can help the sailor in your life quickly identify vessels nearby. The LIGHTrule by Weems & Plath is a vessel identification tool that shows 60 light configurations, and what the boat will look like in the dark from port, starboard, bow, and stern. Once you’ve dialed in the lights, the kind of vessel appears in a magnified description at the end of the slider. Additional information includes configurations of day shapes, and whistle, horn, and bell sounds for maneuvering, warning, and restricted visibility. The LIGHTrule also makes a handy study-aid for navigation classes and Coast Guard exams. It’s made of durable plastic, is approximately 16” x 5” and stores in a vinyl sleeve.

Price: $32.00. Visit Weems and Plath for more information.

XTB Sailor's Blade

Sailing involves a lot of line and sometimes, especially in an emergency, line needs to be cut—fast. At just over an ounce (with sheath, 2.3 ounces) the titanium XTB Sailor’s Blade by Victory Knives is a winner. From New Zealand, it has a three-inch serrated blade and a four-inch handle. Titanium doesn’t rust and the knife comes with a lifetime warranty, as well as a Velcro-sealed sheath so it can be attached to a belt or safety harness.


Could the XTB be the ultimate sailor's blade?

Price: It doesn’t come cheap—expect to pay around $500. Visit Victory Knives for more information.

Written by: Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to Boats.com and YachtWorld.com, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site, TalkoftheDock.com.