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Outstanding Marine Accessories for Your Boat

A collection of some of the best marine accessories that will make boating easier and more fun.

Updated:

July 30, 2020
Boats lined up at the dock
Maximize your fun on the water with these marine accessories. Unsplash/Mike Giles

For many years now, BoatingLAB has been testing and comparing products for boaters and reporting on their advantages and disadvantages. So, from the annals of BoatingLAB, here are seven products, all leaders in their respective categories, that you’ll want to consider using.

Sta-bil fuel stabilizer
Protect your engine from the effects of ethanol. Sta-Bil

If you haven’t treated your fuel for winter storage, you might be sorry by spring. Stale fuel can gum the injectors and cost hundreds of dollars in repairs when taken out of storage in the spring. Eagle’s Sta-Bil 360 replaces the original marine formula and contains more than four times the fuel-system cleaner than regular Sta-Bil, and it’s formulated to protect marine engines from corrosion. This additive prevents regular and ethanol-blended fuel from oxidizing while preventing fuel-system corrosion and gum and varnish formations in the fuel system. It also keeps fuel injectors and carburetors clean and lubricated.

Testing: We filled a graduated cylinder with a half-liter of fresh, regular ethanol fuel, then added water a milliliter at a time until phase separation caused the ethanol to sink to the bottom in its unburnable form. Then we treated another half-liter of fuel with Sta-Bil per the directions and added water until phase separation occurred.

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Top of Its Class: All of the additives we tested doubled the capacity of the fuel to hold water before phase separation occurred. Therefore, it was Sta-Bil’s longevity in the market (its parent company was founded in 1932) and value that made it number one.

SeaSense Led Low Profile Tail Light
Quickly improve the visibility of your trailer. Courtesy Amazon

We can almost promise if you hook your trailer to your vehicle and flick on the lights, you’ll find a dead one somewhere on your trailer. Let’s get that old corroded system off the trailer and install some reliable LEDs. The kit has all the connectors, wire, and stainless-steel hardware to replace your taillights. But most trailers also require red and yellow side-marker lights, sold separately. This was one of the brightest tested, and the electronics pod and LEDs were potted with watertight polymer and protected inside the Fresnel lens housing.

Testing: The SeaSense Fresnel wasn’t watertight like Wesbar’s, but the Fresnel did drain quickly. We were impressed by Wesbar’s watertight Fresnel housing, but SeaSense chose a different tack, shielding the waterproof potted light pod behind the Fresnel. The housing drains quickly, and the design might actually provide added protection to the LEDs.

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Top of Its Class: This was a tough call in the face of the Wesbar taillights, which boasted tough, watertight Fresnels. But our testing gave a slight edge to SeaSense for brightness, an advantage possibly gained from its lighter lens.

Star Brite One-Step Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax
A two-in-one formula can clean and protect. Courtesy Amazon

Go ahead, pick a nice day, pull the boat out of the garage, set Pandora to your favorite tunes, and wax away the winter to make your boat gleam this spring. Now is the time to use this, our top-performing petroleum-based polish. It is neutral beige in tone and contains UV inhibitors and PTEF, Star brite’s trademark for polytetrafluoroethylene. PTEF is said to repel water and stains, and its presence in a Star brite deck wash has shown to make future deck cleanings easier. It gave an excellent gloss to the most damaged of our test panels.

Testing: We taped off sections of a navy-blue boat and measured the reflection of a tape measure held perpendicular to the badly sun-damaged surface. In our worst spot, we couldn’t read the reflection more than 3 inches away from the surface. However, Star brite’s wax did an exemplary job of removing oxidation, clearly visible after the tape was removed. We didn’t expect to see so much correction so easily. It was also top-shelf on beading up water and preventing water spots.

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Top of Its Class: We’ve been a fan of this product for years, and our testing proved its competitive advantage. There are a number of brands using this formula, including one from Attwood and Bass Pro Shops.

303 Products 30674 Marine & Recreation Fabric Guard
Water repellency and breathability rule. Courtesy Amazon

Now is the time to beef up the water repellency of your boat canvas and especially the storage cover. Endorsed by Sunbrella, 303 Fabric Guard is another Gold Eagle product that has proven itself popular and effective over time. Our tests reinforced that and showed it to be the strongest contender in this category. The fast-drying water-based polymer features UV protection and waterproofing that bonds to the fabric fibers to restore canvas to its original protective qualities.

Testing: Our test canvas was a polyester product in service for seven years without retreatment. It was time. We marked off the canvas in equal portions and treated each patch with a different treatment. Our first test was to see if it beaded up — and 303 did that the best of all. In our second test, we sealed it to the bottom of a cylinder and filled it from the top until water seeped through the fibers. The 303 held the most water the longest, taking top honors.

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Top of Its Class: The 303 treatment offered both an advantage in efficacy and price. Polyester boat canvas treated with it supported a 3-inch-diameter, 14-inch-tall column of water in our cylinder test, and water beaded off of it well, decisively besting the competitors.

3M Headlight Lens Restoration System
Safely remove imperfections. Courtesy Amazon

Acrylic windscreens are light and sporty-looking but vulnerable to scratches that can impede visibility. This kit included a drill-mounting buffer pad with a Velcro surface that accepts progressively finer-grit sanding pads. A foam polish pad and a packet of polishing compound prep the surface for the final glaze. Finesse-it II by itself was exemplary at removing fine scratches in one pass. For the 600-grit scratch test, the kit was the most aggressive and effective system tested, and it got the grit scratches out. But it’s the last resort before windshield replacement. Everything you need but a power drill is in the kit. The mohair foam pad was gentle and thorough in the final polish.

Testing: By 3M’s recommendation, we partnered these two products in our test. First, we created a test patch using dry terry cloth to abrade the acrylic in one spot and 600-grit sandpaper in the other. We used the least aggressive Finesse-it II first — always a good plan — and if we weren’t satisfied, we used more-aggressive steps.

Top of Its Class: For light scratches, Finesse-it II by itself handled the job and left a sheen that resisted water spots. The 3M kit was tops at removing deeper scratches. Star brite’s Clear Plastic Restorer was a close competitor to Finesse-it II.

Lucas Oil Products Marine Fuel Treatment
Lubricates and protects marine fuel systems. Courtesy Amazon

Whether you run four-strokes or two-strokes, this concoction is touted to improve the combustion inside your engine, reducing sooting and carbon buildup. It also lubricates rings and fuel injectors for a longer useful life — a benefit of particular importance to direct-injected two-strokes. It contains a fuel stabilizer for long-term fuel storage, making it an all-around, go-to product ideal for marine fuel.

MicroCor MC-300 Moisture & Corrosion Control
Fend off oxidation and water-intrusion with a little spray. Courtesy Amazon

You should be using watertight connections on your trailer wiring harness, but for added insurance, spray them with this product. It is designed to coat metal, fabric, paper, battery terminals and more with a corrosion-resistant membrane that clings tenaciously, preventing damage from corrosion and water. It can be sprayed on circuit boards, battery terminals, fuse panels and tools to keep them in new condition. Best of all, it dries into a nonsticky material that won’t rub off on clothes or hands.

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