Each time boat show season comes around, it offers a great opportunity to look for new gear and accessories that can improve both your safety and enjoyment on the water. In addition to new boats and engines, the show’s aisles are always packed with the latest and greatest new marine accessories to hit the market. From chart plotters to coolers, fishing rods to fenders, sunshades to swim fins, you are bound to find a fun or functional new item you can use to enhance your boat.
Marine electronics. This huge category of accessories gets bigger and more innovative every year. If it has been a few years since you upgraded your boat’s chartplotter or fishfinder, you will be amazed by the quality of the high-definition displays on the newer models you will find in the boat show’s electronics tent. Today’s fishfinders virtually enable you to “see” individual fish swimming under your boat! If your boating adventures take you offshore and your current VHF is not equipped with an AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponder, a boat show is also a good place to shop for an upgrade. AIS can be an important safety feature when you are boating in the same waters as large commercial ships. Your AIS-enabled VHF radio will keep them posted about your GPS position and vice versa.
Underwater lights. When you are heading down a waterway after dark these days, it seems like nearly every boat you pass is pulling a brilliant wake of light behind it. Thanks to LED technology, today’s marine underwater lights are more efficient and offer lots of cool options like the ability to strobe the lights or scroll through multiple colors. There are even high-end, Bluetooth-enabled underwater lighting systems that let you sync your boat’s lights with the tunes you play onboard. But there are also inexpensive underwater lights available that simply screw into your boat’s drain plug.
Safety gear. While the boating safety equipment may not as exciting or geek-worthy at your local boat show as some of the other accessories, it is always worth investing in for your sake and that of your crew. If you still have pyrotechnic flares on board as part of your required safety kit, consider replacing them with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved e-flare for use as a nighttime distress signal. Bright, battery-operated lights that flash the Morse S-O-S code, e-flares don’t expire and need to be replaced periodically like red pyrotechnic flares. You will still need a separate distress signal for daytime, however.
Sunshade. Today, boaters in sunny climates have many options beyond bimini tops to help protect themselves and loved ones from the harmful effects of UV rays while on the water. At a boat show, you will find both manual and electric shade systems that extend from your boat’s roof or hardtop to cover the cockpit and other open areas on deck. We also have seen smaller shades you can mount to a railing or insert in a rodholder. Polarized sunglasses, another essential piece of boating gear, typically are on sale at the show as well.
Coolers. Cooler technology keeps getting better, with some of the larger now units capable of keeping ice solid and drinks cold for up to two weeks! At the boat show, you should be able to find a hard-sided cooler perfectly sized to slide under a boat seat – as well as slide-mount systems you can install that let you slide the cooler in and out for easy access. But soft-sided coolers often make a better option as you can store them in just about any sized space on board. They also have handles that make it convenient for you to take them ashore and refill them.
Fishing gear. If you are an angler, you will find a section of nearly every boat show that is dedicated to showcasing the latest fishing equipment and tackle. You can upgrade your rod and reel or choose from a huge selection of lures specially crafted to attract the species you like to target. At the bigger shows like the Discover Miami International Boat Show, you also will have the opportunity to meet the pros and attend a series of seminars designed to help you hone your angling skills.
Water Toys. For many people, a boat is the perfect platform for launching myriad watersports adventures. A boat show is a great place for enthusiasts to check out the latest kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, wakeboards, water skis, and inflatable towing toys on the market. In recent years, we have also seen a trend toward superyacht toys such as inflatable slides and floating docks that are sized and priced for recreational boats.
Kid-Friendly Gear. If you have children, consider bringing them along with you to the boat show. In addition to educating them about the technology behind your favorite pastime, most shows will have a “kid zone” where they can try their hand at fishing, meet a pirate, or play a boating-related game. Together, you can look for kid-friendly gear like a floating mat made of high-density foam that will support them like a raft the next time they swim behind your boat. If you have an infant, you also might find a swing you can rig from your boat’s hardtop that will rock them gently when your boat sits at anchor. Whatever age your children might be, make sure they have a lifejacket that fits them and is free from wear and tear. If not, you easily can find a replacement at the show.
Simple solutions. Most boat shows have booths with innovative yet affordable solutions on display that boaters like yourself have created in response to a nagging issue on board. A great example is a set of fenders you can clip to your boat’s railing without having to tie any knots. If your boat doesn’t have enough drink holders, you also can find a whole range of aftermarket solutions to choose from – including refrigerated cup holders that will keep your drink cold all day. You also may want to retrofit your boat with a wireless cellphone charger you can mount to your boat’s helm console to ensure you never lose your battery charge while you are out on the water.
The next time you visit a boat show, take some time out from touring the new boat models to take a stroll through the marine accessories displays. You may find a piece of gear or equipment that is essential you will never want to leave the dock without it again.
Boat Loans and Insurance. Though not a marine accessory, most boat shows have vendors who offer showgoers marine financing and insurance solutions. Taking the time to speak with industry experts like our team at Newcoast can help you explore the different loan and protection options that are unique to you and your vessel. Whether you’re buying new or used, boat shows are the perfect place to request a free quote, try a loan calculator, ask questions, and secure insurance or financing all in one place; making the entire process a quick and seamless experience. However, if you’d rather connect with a specialist at another time, you can always call (866) 639-2627 or visit www.newcoast.com to learn more.
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