What’s an option that’s becoming a standard feature on a growing number of express cruisers? The stow-away blender. And what belowdecks galley would dare be offered without a coffee maker? Goes to show that a six-pack of Diet Cokes and a fistful of can cozies don’t score bonus points with boating friends these days. We tested the following refreshment contraptions for those who have galleys of old, or no galleys at all.
Magic Bullet to Go(2 for $99.99, bullettogo.com)
Test Impressions: We tried to mimic the fun seen in the yuk-it-up infomercial, with modest success. This battery-powered version of the Magic Bullet did indeed whip up smoothies, salsa and frothy adult beverages in 10 seconds. But we were reminded that a cockpit galley is not the same as a kitchen in a TV studio.
Upsides: We had quick results once we were set up (frozen margarita: seven seconds, as advertised) * It works like a small cordless blender, so it’s the best unit for mixing and liquefying ice and fruit.
Downsides: It took a couple of hours to charge the battery, so there were no impromptu piña coladas. * The battery is the size of a stack of salad plates. * The 19 parts are overkill, as is the offer of two Bullets for one price.
Recommendation: Take just the blender, and use the excess cups (they don’t stack) for something else, like flowerpots.
BlenderBottle($8.49, $8.99, blenderbottle.com)
Test Impressions: It’s more “shaker” than blender, but that’s good when every inch of storage space is valuable. The simple BlenderBall wire whisk helped us shake up some creamy smoothies using frozen fruit and a little milk. It has stood the test of time, as one of our BlenderBottles is now six years old.
Upsides: We found it the most convenient of all — just tighten down the top and give your arm a workout. * No-sweat cleaning (rinse it out) and stowing (toss it in a cooler) makes it boat-ready. * It’s perfect for powdered mixes.
Downsides: It doesn’t break down ice (you still need a blade and something stronger than a forearm for that). * Fruit chunks go to the bottom instead of blending in. * We made the mistake of shaking up warm coffee — pressure built up and popped the top.
Recommendation: Keep it stowed out of the sun when a drink is in it, or you might need a mop.
Test Impressions: This is also known as the Drillblender, which is more to the point. With cordless drill in hand, you literally stick the included Boatblender bit into a hole on the lid, turn the 32-ounce mug upside down and drill away. The spinning bit turns a blender blade inside the mug.
Upsides: The drill is the biggest part, and when you’re done bartending you can stow it under a seat or take apart the driver’s console. * We gave it high marks in the “lookie what I can do with power tools” category.
Downsides: It took longer than the Magic Bullet to finish a job. * Half a charge on the battery means a mixed drink, not a blended drink. * It left small chunks of ice instead of frothing them up.
Recommendation: If the word “entertainment” is in your boating vocabulary, this is the ticket.
Jetboil Flash Java Kit($99, jetboil.com)
Test Impressions: We bought this for camping, but all our friends show up at the dock with coffee cups in the morning, so we thought…why not for a boat? The unit is about the size of a quart jug and takes up little space. It’s strictly for above-deck use when powered with carbon monoxide-producing butane.
Upsides: It’s as simple as heating water with coffee grounds (or pouring in hot water) in the insulated tankard, letting it sit for three minutes and using the French-style press. * The results are better than instant coffee, and nearly as fast. * It’s lightweight, portable, easy to stow.
Downsides: If you run out of butane, you have cold coffee. * There are a couple small parts that could go MIA.
Recommendation: Carry hot water in a Thermos and use that for a quicker, butane-free brew.