Stuck for gift ideas for the sailor who has it all? Yachting World is here to help with dozens of great ideas as we list our best gifts for sailors all selected by our expert editorial team
Are you wondering what to get the sailor in your life for their birthday, for Christmas or for any other celebratory occasion? Here is our pick of the best Christmas gifts for sailors that would make a perfect present for the keen boater in your life.
We appreciate everyone is on a different budget, so we’ve sectioned this piece by price. Hit the links below to jump straight to the price bands.
Editor’s choice Christmas gifts
Hattiers Premium Reserve Rum
Synonymous with sailing since the mid 17th Century, rum continues to be the yachtsman’s favourite tipple.
This south Devon firm, which currently sponsors our Letters pages and has also teamed up with Spirit Yachts, produces some dangerously good sipping rums. A personal favourite is its premium reserve blended Egremont rum – wow!
Gerber EZ-Out Rescue knife
This is a single blade with a rounded tip and no other tools or features. Although the blade remains safely sprung closed, it is easy and safe to open one-handed.
The 7.8cm-long blade is serrated, but not so heavily that the knife grips a rope when it should be cutting it. We found the EZ-Out Rescue the most effective cutter in our test. Whether faced with the tough Dyneema halyard, the webbing or the awkward polypropylene line, this blade scythed through in a few seconds at most.
The blade locks well and is easily returned via a push point on the rear. At 73.7g, the EZ-Out Rescue is very light and there is a lanyard point as well as a pocket clip.
That bright yellow, reinforced thermoplastic handle is mottled for grip and Gerber has boosted this with a raised black rubber lip on each side. The overall unit is relatively thin but perfectly comfortable to use.
This knife comes with a lifetime warranty.
Standard Horizon HX210E
This affordable 6W waterproof and buoyant handheld VHF is compact yet feature packed. The lithium battery-powered radio has chunky keys, a bright backlit screen, a water-activated strobe and an integral FM radio.
Looking for more options? Check out our guide to the best handheld VHFs.
Sealskinz Bacton waterproof
Keeping your head warm and dry is vital to enjoying winter sailing. This waterproof Sealskinz beanie looks like the ideal way of achieving that. It is water and stain repellent, with a three layer construction for warmth, durability and waterproofing. The waterproofing will keep your head dry, breathability will keep you warm even when working hard.
Looking for a different style? Check out our guide to the best sailing hats on the market.
Red 40lt Kit Bag
This waterproof bag is stylish and lightweight, with smooth zips designed not to snag, and the best part is that it’s made out of recycled plastic bottles (TPU). And the zips and seals really work too. We tested a selection of waterproof bags and this was our favourite blend of style and practicality.
For those of us with land locked loved ones in our lives that are keen to take to the high seas Meg and Christopher Clothier may have the gift for you. Sea Fever is a book stacked to the gunnels with interesting facts, practical advice and esoteric seaside lore – once you’ve read it, you’ll never feel like a landlubber again.
With each product is a ‘Buy it now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Creative Ropecraft: A treasure trove of knots, hitches, bends, plaits and netting
the updated edition of Creative Ropecraft: A treasure trove of knots, hitches, bends, plaits and netting by the late Stuart Grainger.
Now in colour for the first time, this compendium of all things knotty is a great collection of practical nautical knots and decorative rope work.
The Nautical Puzzle Book
How much do you really know about the oceans? The National Maritime Museum has packed this book with hundreds of questions and a mix of maps, world games and trivia. Available in hardback or Ebook form this stocking filler is designed to suit veteran sailors and armchair navigators alike.
Sugru Mouldable Glue
Sugru is a new material that feels like play dough but acts like superglue and sticks to most objects and surfaces. It’s very user-friendly, highly malleable and waterproof and comes in 10 bright colours. It’s ideal for both fixing things and giving items a new lease of life as it sets like silicone rubber (flexible and insulated) – it’s also surprisingly fun to apply.
Rick Tomlinson Calendar 2023
Any office/home study would look bare without a wall hanging calendar – particularly one that inspires dreams of getting afloat. One of our favourites is from Cowes photographer, Rick Tomlinson who consistently takes great sailing images and his annual calendar is always guaranteed to be chock-full of great snaps.
Spinlock Essentials chest pack
Spinlock’s Essential Packs are snug fitting solutions for keeping accessories like a mobile phone, VHF, or personal EPIRB to hand on the water. They are available as belt, side or chest packs that attach with Velcro tie-downs, and neatly compliment Spinlock’s Deckvest 5D lifejacket.
This odd looking hanger is designed especially for your wetsuit and its accoutrements like the gloves and boots. It’s lightweight, so easy to bring with you and strong enough to take the extra weight of soaking wet neoprene. The design also helps your wetsuit dry quicker and reduces wear and tear.
Reeds Nautical Almanac 2023
This year sees the 90th-anniversary edition of the Reeds Nautical Almanac. An annual compendium of all the navigational data you might need to plot a course around the Atlantic coast. It includes the UK and Europe all the way from Denmark to Gibraltar.
The Gill Deckhand gloves have been my go to glove for years now. For a while there was a women’s option available which was a much better fit than the unisex version.
The way the glove is tailored to the curve of the hand makes them easy to wear and easy to grip lines and other control surfaces. They do get a bit soggy to wear when wet and I keep a few pairs to be able to swap out while the others dry off. They usually last me a season and need replacing but I keep buying the same gloves because they are so comfortable to wear.
Arthur Beale Riggers bag
Arthur Beale’s all natural oiled wool pullovers are the company’s signature item today, but it also has dozens of gift ideas, including this Rigging Tool Bag. Made from canvas and leather it features 24 external and 18 internal pockets plus practical handles and lanyards.
Gill Tarp Barrel Bag
All sailors need a decent kit bag. This 60L no-nonsense barrel bag is made from durable waterproof tarpaulin and features a two-way zip and padded shoulder strap.
Carboteck bracket and bezel
An upgrade for the dinghy sailing enthusiast in your life. This forged light and impact resistant carbon bezel is designed for use with a Velocitek Prism or a Raymarine Tacktick Micro Compass. The forged carbon is created by mixing paste fibres with resin, then squeezing the material into the desired shape.
Spinlock Lume-On lights
The simple ideas are the best. These compact LEDs stick to the underbelly of each bladder, which uses the large fluorescent surface like a diffuser to maximise the visibility of the flashing light. Once activated, the Lume-On provides up to two hours of intense flashing light. It adds very little extra weight, has a smooth profile so will not chafe the bladder, and is very simple to retrofit to most lifejackets.
Boatworld Free Wheeling Outboard
This Australian innovation blends rowing with outboard motors to produce a clever lightweight solution for your tender. It uses a 3:1 gear ratio contained in the collar by the handle, driving a high-pitch propeller to provide a smooth, silent and fuel-less means of manual propulsion in either direction. Time to ditch the outboard, oars or both?
Race tactics involve decisions based on the wind direction and trends, gleaned from the yacht’s compass. This Danish TackingMaster helps make wind shifts quick and easy to gauge using a watch-style wrist mount.
Once the wind direction and course to the mark have been set, you can track any shifts by using its inner course dial. So you can easily see how a shift may affect the next tack or leg and keep track of the average wind trend.
Restube Beach Float Buoyancy Aid
Anyone who partakes in extreme watersports will know there are times when wearing a lifejacket is simply not practical afloat. And others may simply want the comfort of a personal flotation device without the bulk, perhaps when taking a swim away from an anchored yacht.
The Restube is a personal lifebuoy developed by a kitesurfer that stows into a small bum-bag like pouch. It uses a vertical or horizontal belt attachment, and a sports model is available with a harness mount.
FlexSafe by AquaVault
Keeping keys, passports, wallets and electronic gadgets safe when travelling can all too often be a challenge. The FlexSafe is a lockable bag made of slash-proof materials that cannot be cut open with a knife and incorporates a piercing 110db motion sensing alarm. When on shore simply attach the bag to a convenient tree, your folding bike, the dinghy or any other suitable structure.
Gill Stealth Timer
Stealth Timer If you’re late to the start wearing this watch, there’s no excuse! As well as the large, super clear display, modes include a digital compass and course shift as well as the ‘stealth’ feature of a silent countdown so you can outsmart the opposition on the line.
Yeti Rambler 36oz
When two fishermen brothers couldn’t find a robust icebox/cooler, they started Yeti, which produces coolers you can stand on, throw around a boat and that will keep ice cold for days.
The drinkware range looks just as practical, whether water bottles, the ramblers to keep your coffee hot, or the wine tumbler to keep your Côtes de Provence ice cold.
The Rambler gallon/half gallon jugs make a lot of sense for day sailing racing, either for warming soups hot or keeping your Dark’n’Stormy fresh! See Stones/Yeti for options
Shakespeare emergency inflatable VHF antenna
If you’re planning a trip a little further out to sea or just want the safety of a powerful emergency antenna without cluttering up your deck this could be the low space answer for you. The Galaxy®-INFL8 VHF 3dB is an inflatable antenna that can be rapidly deployed via a CO2 cartridge to 5ft (1.6m) to offer a full 3dB antenna with a range of up to three times greater than any existing helical emergency antenna.
Sealey SPB160W 31200mAh Lithium AC Power Pack
This lithium ion power back offers a potential solution to the problem of keeping gadgets charged while on board. It’s compact and weighs only 1.5kg, but has a 31,200mAh capacity that’s sufficient to deliver half a dozen full charges for a smart phone, or to fully charge a typical laptop twice.
Oakley Split Shot
Wearing a good set of UV-protected sunglasses with polarised lenses year-round can help protect against serious eye damage. But it can be painful and expensive if, like me, you are prone to losing glasses over the side. Oakley’s Split Shot glasses come with Prizm lenses and provide a detachable lightweight and ultra thin wire leash attachment to its wraparound glasses to suit watersports in particular.
Looking for a different style? Check out our guide to the best sailing sunglasses on the market.
YM editor Theo Stocker has been putting Dubarry’s Commodore XLT moccasin boat shoes through their paces for a few months now.
He believes they represent a happy medium between traditional moccasins and their sporty competitors.
Theo says: ‘Their key selling point is that they are, as the name suggests, extra light. In fact, they are roughly half the weight of my previous boat shoes.
‘Despite this, they still have a good degree of cushioning in the sole and are firm enough to give my foot some support, with the three-hole lacing keeping them secure on my foot.’
For more options, from deck trainers to leather moccasins, check out YBW’s guide to the best boat shoes available right now.
Exposure Weatherproof Head Torch
This compact, lightweight double-ended torch shines a powerful white beam from one end and a red light from the other. Both can be operated simultaneously for a variety of uses from onboard, to the tender ride or cycle home.
Accessories include a headband that allows either colour to shine forwards, a reflective neck lanyard, plus stanchion, helmet and magnetic mounts.
Fizzics portable beer tap
Sailors are discerning types with quality tastes. So why not ship a portable beer tap for draught-tasting beer with the perfect head? The founders of Fizzics have really delved into the science (or ‘fizzics’) of beer drinking, and created a device that they say will deliver the perfect pour, creating an ‘ultra dense, long-lasting foam head’ from any standard size beer can or bottle – and all beer types from lager and ale to stout.
It’s strictly for those who take their drinking seriously – I’ve asked Santa for one.
Ocean Signal rescueMe MOB1
The more portable personal rescue devices are, the more likely they will be worn or carried. Ocean Signal’s new MOB1 is 30% smaller than competitor AIS MOB devices.
It can alert any AIS-equipped vessels in the vicinity to the precise location of a casualty in the water, and it will fit on any inflatable lifejacket’s oral tube. It also includes DSC alerting so can both pinpoint a MOB location via AIS, plus trigger the yacht’s own VHF alarm.
Decathlon Tribord Sailing Jacket Offshore 900
This French company develops and retails its own brand products, but doesn’t change its ranges unnecessarily merely to suit the whims of fashion. The result is long-lasting gear at very competitive prices.
This is the firm’s top-specification offshore jacket, made from a three-layer fabric with four times the waterproofing rating of typical inshore products.
It also has a high collar, adjustable hood with rigid visor, double sleeve seals and two hand warmer pockets. In addition, there are two cargo pockets and a further secure and drier pocket under the storm flap.
Garmin Virb Ultra 30
If your choice of action camera is more defined by durability, audio and picture quality, consider Virb cameras. Garmin continues to upgrade its rugged and waterproof (to 50m) Virb cams with increased resolution and a variety of mounting options.
Spot X satellite messenger
A neat two-way satellite messenger, with communication via SMS or email. The Spot X has a Qwerty keyboard, can be linked to Facebook and Twitter accounts, and has tracking and SOS functions. Satellite coverage is via the Globalstar system. Note that you will require a subscription to use this on top of the purchase price.
The Instinct 2, launched in February 2022 is Garmin’s all-round watch, which they call their outdoors watch. Features that are particularly relevant to sailors include GPS positioning on charts; barometric pressure and a compass.
It has smartphone connectivity, receives emails and texts, and can control music via a phone. This watch also has an inbuilt thermometer and heart rate monitor.
The Garmin Instinct is available in no fewer than 20 different styles and colours. It’s actual diameter is 47mm (1 13/16” in) but the viewable face is 32mm (1 1/4”). The Instinct is 16mm (5/8” in) thick and weighs 53g (2 oz).
For racing sailors, it also has multiple start sequence options. We have an indepth review from long term testing of this watch coming soon.
The Garmin Instinct watch is a good alternative for anyone seeking a more moderately priced alternative to the Garmin Quatix 6.
Quench manual watermaker
Hydro Wind Energy is aiming to produce 100 million Quench Sea desalinators in the next seven years! This unit has triple pre-filtration and a small state-of-the-art reverse osmosis replaceable membrane rated for the production of 18,000lt of fresh water. It weighs 0.7kg and produces 2lt of water an hour.
Note: the first units aren’t scheduled to ship until October 2021, but a voucher for one could be welcomed as a Christmas gift with a difference.
Swellpro made the first fully waterproof quad copter that also floats. This new drone is an update to that ‘splash’ model and has many of the same great features including the ability to shoot 4K video and 12MP images. It also has a payload release feature for carrying and releasing items, including safety gear. SwellPro has released the 3rd generation of the SplashDrone, with improved features, including a ‘follow me’ mode. Use it to capture some unique footage of your yacht, take a beer to a friend, or even drop a life-ring to a casualty in the water.
The Bluefin Cruise is very stable for paddling and has a fair amount of buoyancy thanks to its width and depth. Of course this does also mean it is more affected by wind and waves than other, smaller designs.
I like that the grip runs almost all the way to the tail of the board, meaning you still have grip to stand on if you have a heavy dry bag strapped to the attachment point on the nose of the board – or a small child – both of which would see you stand much further back than normal
This model excels in versatility and manoeuvrability, making it well-suited for most novice or occasional paddlers.
Garmin Quatix 6 sailing watch
The latest generation of Garmin’s sailing smartwatch adds optional Bluechart g3 cartography enabling it to function as a standalone plotter. It also gains a larger 1.3in always-on screen and a MOB detection feature. As with previous generations, it can be used to interface with Garmin chartplotters and instrument data, as well as controlling autopilots and on-board entertainment.
If your budget quite won’t stretch that far, read our guide to the best sailing watches available right now.
Best Christmas gift ideas for sailors
If you didn’t find anything in this list that’s perfect for the sailor in your life, you might want to browse some of the options below for a whole range of sailors’ favourites. And if you’re still stuck, there’s always the good old gift card…