Deck the Hulls: Last minute holiday gifts for boaters

Over the past two weeks, Coast Guard Compass has given you “Deck the Hulls,” a holiday gift guide for mariners and recreational boaters.

It’s the eleventh hour for holiday shopping but that’s no excuse to disappoint the boater on your shopping list with a bad sweater or re-gifted item from seasons past. For all you last minute shoppers, here’s a wrap-up of gifts to help the boater in your life “Boat Responsibly!”

Vessel safety check

Survival equipment

Mariners need to be prepared in case of emergencies and survival equipment, such as the signaling and sound devices seen above, are great gifts to give. Coast Guard photo by PA3 Barbara L. Patton.

Vessel safety checks are provided by qualified examiners at no cost to the boat owner and ensure boaters have the necessary equipment to be safe on the water. There are key items necessary to pass a safety check, including life jackets, fire extinguishers and visual distress signals – so there are plenty of gifts to choose from. Gifting any of these items will have the boater on your list well on their way to earning that Vessel Safety Check decal!

Boating safety course

Gifting a boating safety course will equip boaters at all skill levels and ages with safe boating skills and knowledge. In these courses, dedicated instructors teach basic boat handling skills and required and recommended safety equipment. Boaters will also learn navigation principles as well as how to handle boating emergencies. Whether an experienced boater or someone new to the water, it is always a good time to learn the latest safe boating skills.

VHF-FM Radio

Too many boaters rely on cell phones for emergency communications when they are on the water. While you may get lucky near shore, cell phones have serious limitations. In the maritime environment, VHF-FM marine radios are designed for communication between vessels and shore stations with safety paramount, making them a perfect gift for any boater.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon

EPIRBs are high-tech devices that pay dividends when boaters find themselves in distress. These specialized radio transmitters send distress signals containing a code unique to the beacon that is picked up and multiplied by a network of search-and-rescue satellites. Using information from a registration database, emergency responders will have the position and owner information needed to respond to an emergency.

Boating Safety Kit

Properly fitted life jacket

A properly fitted life jacket, that won't ride up or come off, is a must for all boaters. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

There are hundreds of miscellaneous items that boating enthusiasts would love to receive, but more importantly will keep them safe! Boaters love trying out the latest gadgets and even simple things can help keep a boater safe. From rescue heaving lines to first aid kits, there are enough items to put together a great kit for any boater in your life.

As you find yourself in busy shopping malls and crowded parking lots with other holiday procrastinators, keep in mind that whether you give the boater on your list a VHF-FM radio or life jacket, your gift will keep them safer on the water, which is a gift that keeps on giving all year long.

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