Boating gifts for the holidays

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It seems we were just launching our boats and packing picnics, and now we are counting shopping days until Christmas. Gifts for boating friends and family are the most fun to get. What’s good out there?

Water toys are always fun. At last year’s boating dinner gift exchange the floating beverage cooler was the big hit. Keeps cool in the water and provides easy access for tube floaters and swim platform loungers. I’ve seen boaters enjoying the WOW – Walk on Water pad. For $175 there is one that supports six standing adults. It ties to your stern and makes a nice raft to swim to. Water shoes are good, protective for jumping out of dinghies or kayaks or launching your small boat from a ramp. Upgrading safety equipment is always a good idea. A snazzy new PFD with Capt. America etc. will encourage wearing it, and for the older set who complain about bulkiness, maybe now is the time to look into an inflatable PFD.

There is a gunwhale boarding mat for about $60. It is made of marine grade plush carpet and is sand weighted at the ends so it won’t slip or blow off. Non-marking rubber is on the back to prevent sliding. You can choose any color, script and message. Helps your guests board and keeps your boat clean.

Of course, the best gift you can give is safety on the water. How about a gift certificate for a safe boating course? There are three courses starting on Feb. 27 and running Mondays and Thursdays from 7 to 9:15 p.m., at Toll Gate High School in Warwick. In one classroom is Boating Safety and Seamanship, and in another classroom is Sailing. Successful completion gives you the Rhode Island State Boating card and also PWC certification, but more importantly, a wealth of knowledge you need to keep safe – and legal- on the bay.

The third course is Navigation. This takes you from ground zero up to celestial navigation.

The courses are largely hands-on with instructors and proctors who can work with you one on one. There is also a proctor room where you can clear up any questions you may have and grab a coffee and refreshments.

There is no age limit. It’s fun for the whole family to come together. If the someone is much more experienced than the others, that person can take navigation while the others take the basic course in the next room.

For more information, go to www.northstarflotilla.com and click on Boating Classes.

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