Free & Cheap Boating Gear

More honey for your money.

March 1, 2001

Remember when you could find all the really cool toys in the window of the local five-and-dime? Well, five-and-dimes have gone the way of penny candy, dime novels, and dollar movies. So where do you find today’s big-boy toys? And isn’t there anything out there related to boating that doesn’t cost an arm and a peg leg? Actually, there is. In fact, we’ve put together a list of some truly neat stuff, each of which costs less than $30. And we promise they aren’t too good to be true. Read on.


Begin your journey at Rumpus Toys with Big Fish Little Fish, squishy-soft velour fish that fit inside one another – from smallest to biggest. Price: $24. Contact Rumpus Toys at 888/786-7871,



When thrown to the dogs, the soft construction of Ruffwear’s Hover Craft won’t injure your fingers or Spike’s teeth. Made with tough poly-cloth underside, sturdy nylon webbing, and a Diamond Plate P.E.V. top, this disk can take a canine crushing and keep on flying. Price: $11.95. Contact Ruffwear at 888/783-3932, ****



Even if you’ve never caught a fish in your life, you can look as if you have. Choose either the Sundot Marlin T-Shirt or the Fishworks T-Shirt from Melton International Tackle. You’ll be the only one who knows you don’t know anything about fishing. Price: $15 and $17, respectively. Contact Melton at 800/372-3474,


Feel like a wimp carrying that wicker picnic basket past the hardcore fishing folks at the marina? From now on, picnic in stealth style with a Connoisseur Gourmet Travel Set from Picnic Time. Included in the tough polyester foldover pack are two napkins, a corkscrew, cheese knife, and wooden cutting board. Price: $19.85. Contact Magellan’s at 800/962-4943, ****



What’s the wonder of it all? It lasts forever, which is why you won’t need the Wonder Bar lifetime replacement guarantee. Under the guise of a bar of soap, it transfers odor-bearing acids and oils from the skin to the metal bar. And don’t worry if it falls in the drink – it floats. Price: $11.95. Contact 5K Enterprises at 724/443-1377.



Do empties roll with reckless abandon around your boat’s sole? If so, chuck your trash in a Trash Trapper, an adhesive strip that attaches the bag holder directly to the boat. When full, the removable five-gallon bag has a zipper at the bottom for convenient disposing of the disposables. Price: $12.95. Contact Orion Industries at 877/487-2773,


Forget to grab your underwater camera for that snorkeling trip to Bermuda? Don’t fret. Pick up a waterproof onetime use Kodak Max. Available in 35mm and Advanced Photo System formats, the Max’s rubberized nonslip shell and oversize buttons make underwater shots a snap. This rugged little disposable is designed for use in up to 14′ of water. Price: $15.95. Contact Kodak at 800/242-2424,


Bolster your arsenal of tools with the multipurpose Boyster Wrench, which is a spark plug, drain plug, screwdriver, oyster shucker, fuel/water cap, and deck opener all rolled into one. It’s made with 316-grade stainless steel and comes with a lifetime warranty. Price: $9.95. Contact The Boyster Company at 888/723-6556,


Be the first to liven up things at that snotty yacht club meeting by wearing a Winter Storage Tie from Preston’s. They come in yellow or navy, measure 3 3/4″ wide and are 100 percent silk. Price: $29.95. Contact Preston’s at 800/836-1165,


Why you would want to, we don’t know. But you could drop your personal digital assistant overboard, have your not-so-lightweight football-playing buddy sit on it, or whip it around by a lanyard. And all would be fine if you first put it in Electronic Armor by Cell Safe. At 6.5″-by-3.9″-by-1.3″, it snuggles around a Palm Pilot perfectly and has a transparent front for viewing. Price: $24.95. Contact Cell Safe at 877/235-5723,


If you’ve ever been taken down at the knees by a large runaway cooler, you’ll appreciate Thumb Lock’s Cooler Grips. This fastening system for coolers on the loose comes with four 2″-by-3″ fasteners, two 15″ locking straps, and two strap buckles.The Grips will attach to any smooth surface onboard. Price: $25. Contact FSI Solutions at 800/232-7836, ****


Just when you thought there was no more room for stowage, Yacht Brand Products’ briefs’ well-situated front pocket shows you there’s always more room than you think. The Able Seaman and First Mate are made with European cotton, wide elastic, and quadruple stitching. Price: $15.95 each. Contact Yacht Brand Products at


You can brush, gurgle, and spit anywhere you go with the Wash ‘n Go Sink. This portable self-contained sink holds three gallons of water and has holders for your toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors, soap, and a cup. If you want to see where you nicked yourself, it also sports a small mirror. Much better than toting around a bucket and balancing all that loose stuff. Price: $25. Contact Bass Pro Shops at 800/227-7776,


There’ll be more room for fish in the cooler if you put that 12-pack into a Coleman’s Soft Insulated Backpack Cooler. Feel free to throw in some sandwiches, too. Its webbed handle and single-sling strap make carrying a cinch, and the exterior wipes clean with a damp cloth. Price: $20. Contact Coleman at 800/835-3278,


We know you’re partial to that bottle-opener keychain you’ve had since college. But maybe it’s time to move on to something a little more sophisticated, such as the Wine Companion from Tool Logic. This credit-card-size tool weighs two ounces, is 3/8″ thick, and comes with a corkscrew, foil cutter, stainless-steel knife and fork, and cocktail stir. Price: $24.85. Contact Magellan’s at 800/962-4943,


If the kids’ tea party is turning in to a loud and raucous affair, give them a lesson in ingenuity. Hand them some stylish underwater Water Talkies from Wild Planet, throw them overboard (up to 15′ apart), and finish your martini in peace. Price: $13. Contact Wild Planet at 800/247-6570, ****


Need more reach when you’re reaching out and touching someone? Shakespeare’s new Cell Phone Antenna Adapter Cables will keep you in touch as you cruise blue water. One end attaches to the marine antenna and the other to the cell phone, adding miles to your reception area. Price: $29.95. Contact Shakespeare at 803/276-5504,


Travel to the end of the ocean on your waterbike? When you get there and realize you don’t have enough gas to get home, make sure you have a Skyblazer’s PWC kit nearby. Each one contains two flares, an emergency whistle, and a 10-mile signal mirror. Price: $29.95. Contact Skyblazer at 714/447-5409,


Resealable plastic bags aren’t just for peanut butter and jelly anymore. SealLine’s SealLock E-Case is a heavy-duty waterproof plastic satchel that you can attach to your clothes. A buoyant foam insert is included for protection of the electronic gear you store inside and for flotation in case you or the bag goes overboard. Price: $20. Contact Cascade Designs at 800/531-9531.


Take our word: Bud Hitch Ball Covers will soon be on every empty ball hitch from New York to Kalamazoo. Choose the swordfish or the bass – either will make you the talk of the dock. The Bud Hitch fits both 1 7/8″ and 2″ balls securely. Price: $10 each. Contact Cipa-USA at 810/982-3555.


Lay those lures anywhere and a treble will stick somewhere it shouldn’t. Why not put them in their proper place – right next to your beer can? The Drink Holder by Boatmates can hold your favorite beverage, a couple of lures, and a pair of pliers or sunglasses. It mounts vertically or on a flat surface. Price: $7. Contact Boatmates at 877/278-6948,


There’s no need to scour the beaches looking for rocks and sticks big enough to tie up to. Get yourself a Sandspike. Made of aircraft-grade aluminum, this 16-ounce stake can hold vessels up to 24′ and won’t ever rust. Just drive it into some sand and spend the afternoon frolicking on land. It comes in seven different colors. Price: $29.95. Contact Sandspike at


Can you smell the baitwell from your berth? Don’t be disgusted any longer. Try some Iosso Bait Well & Fish Box Cleaner. Four ounces of this nontoxic cleaner will make two gallons of cleaning solution and eliminates odors. Price: $5.45. Contact Iosso at 847/437-8400,


Bloop! That sound doesn’t ring sweetly in the ear of a boater, especially if it’s made by a wallet or keyring as it descends toward a sandy bottom. Avoid that sinking sensation by keeping all your valuables in a Water Pack from L.L. Bean. At 12 ounces, this two-pocket water-resistant pack won’t overload or cramp your style. And it has a nifty water bottle holster to boot. Price: $29. Contact L.L. Bean at 800/441-5713,


How many boaters does it take to change an LED? None. LED technology means the bulbs never need to be changed, so say goodbye to your old Boy Scout flashlight. On its high power setting CMG’s Bonfire LED Tent Light burns for 18 hours with two AA batteries. Weighing in at three ounces, this lightweight light is durable and weatherproof. Price: $22. Contact CMG at 888/699-0622,


Would-be thieves will think twice before targeting your boat if they see a flashing red light at the helm. DashFlash Extra is a 12-volt rechargeable flashlight with a blinking red LED that plugs into the cigarette lighter. The light shines for 1 1/2 hours when the unit is fully charged. Price: $14. Contact Innovation House at 519/344-4071,


West System’s Maxi Repair Pack offers an array of goodies: six resin packets, one low-density filler for fairing, one high-density filler for bonding, two application brushes, one syringe, two pipe cleaners, four mixing sticks, one pair of disposable gloves, four cleaning pads, two mixing cups, and a partridge in a pear tree. (Okay, not that last one.) Say “So long!” to gel-coat scratches forever. Price: $21.30. Contact Gougeon Brothers at 517/684-7286,


The Sealink Deluxe 12-Volt Receptacle is corrosion resistant, easy to install, and features a watertight cap. With all the gadgets and electronics gear available for boats these days, you often need an extra place to plug them all in. This one comes with a five-year warranty. Price: $16.95. Contact Marinco at 707/226-9600, ****


Going for a dip? Take a drink along. Heck – take four gallons of your favorite thirst-quenching refreshment along. The Tropicooler from SportsStuff attaches to your boat via a grommet, has a molded handle for easy transport, and will float alongside as you paddle around the surf. Price: $23.95. Contact SportsStuff at

SOLE PURIFICATION Contrary to popular opinion, clean feet are the first thing a woman looks for in a man. Get yourself up to par with Soapy Soles. The foot-shaped cushion sports more than 1,500 gently rounded “fingertips” for supreme scrubbing action. Suction cups keep it in place, so there’s no awkward bending. Price: $19.95. Contact McNaughton at 800/423-5487,


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