Marine News from the Great Lakes

Season-Tested Boat Gear

Published: Friday, November 30, 2018
By: Dan Armitage

I’ve been fortunate to be able to use a dozen new boating products this past season, and have a few to recommend. I have documented in photos the installation of a few on our project boat, which will be shared in more detail in DIY features in upcoming issues. However, for those of you who may need some holiday gift ideas for fellow Great Lakes boaters, here are some suggestions.

Accon Quick Release Hinges for Bimini Tops

I have a portable dodger to protect the forward area of the boat that gives me fits every time I need to install its ‘feet’ in the traditional gunwale-mounted bases. Holding the bows steady while trying to align the pins in the mount flanges is tough, even with a partner to assist. Recently, Accon Marine came out with a line of Quick Release Bimini Hinges that can be top- or flush-mounted and make securing the bows a snap and significantly lowers the profile of the base mounts when the Bimini is not deployed.


Star-Brite Instant Hull Cleaner

The waters in my favorite Great Lakes marina are as fertile as the fishing grounds just offshore. That makes for excellent fishing but also means the hull develops a lights brown stain after only few days in the slip and requires a cleaning once the boat is on the trailer. Fortunately, the stain requires more oxalic acid than elbow grease to remove, and since testing several types developed for the purpose, Star-Brite’s Instant Hull Cleaner has become my favorite for tackling the job. It removes waterline stains, rust stains, and even stains left by leaves that always find a way to accumulate under my boat cover during the off-season.

Magma Food Prep/Cutting Boards

For years, Magma Products has offered a line of portable barbecue grills for boaters which are popular for their handy mounting options. One is the Level-Lock, which uses a common flush-mounted rod holder to secure the grill, which can be adjusted to any angle to keep it level. When Magma extended the rod holder system to a line of portable food and bait prep tables, the Bait/Filet Mates were an instant hit with boaters, including me. I have owned and used their rod-holder-mounted table for years, and when I learned they had a new line that includes better drainage and slot storage for pliers and knives, I got on the receiving end of one and put it through its paces during the second half of the boating season – and it’s a winner. The only problem is my wife uses it for food prep and I’m not allowed to use the new one for fillet fish or cutting bait. Good thing I still have the original Magma model and it’s holding up just fine…


Connect-Ease Wiring Harnesses

I’m no electrician – marine or otherwise – but I know when it’s time to clean up the wiring under the helm. With all the electronic accessories available to boaters these days, it’s easy to develop a complicated wiring system. A call to Connect-Ease with my needs resulted in a couple of wiring harnesses that drastically reduced the clutter around my boat’s starting and house batteries by organizing and combining functions, allowing me to keep track of what powers what. And this time of year, when it’s time to disconnect the batteries for the off season, the task is much simpler thanks to the Connect-Ease set-up – as it will be when it’s time to reconnect the batteries for the 2019 boating season next spring.

Optima Digital Battery Chargers and Maintainers

To match the Optima AGM batteries I installed in the project boat last spring, I sprung for an Optima Digital 400 Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer, a compact model that complements the full-size 1200 model. I’ve learned by experience that keeping batteries all alike in type and age and doing things exactly as prescribed by the battery manufacturer is key to attaining long battery life, and I figured having an Optima charger that I could take with me on trailered trips and keep around the Optima-powered boat couldn’t hurt. What I didn’t expect was a charger that diagnoses and maintains all types of batteries, including the lead-acid cells in my motorcycle and my truck, serves as a trickle charger, and can bring fully depleted batteries back to life – something one name brand, full-size battery charger I have failed to do.

Fulton Power Winch and Jackstand

I have a separate Optima battery mounted on the trailer frame to power the Fulton Power Winch and the Fulton Power Jackstand that I installed on the project boat’s trailer. I do a lot of single-handed boating during the course of a season, and I’m not getting any younger – or stronger. Having a power winch to do the heavy cranking and a power jack to do the heavy lifting has made the launching, loading, and parking process much easier. I especially appreciate the power jack at the end of each trip, when I need to raise the trailer’s tongue above level to allow rainwater to drain out of the boat when it’s in storage next to the house, and then to lower it onto the ball when it’s time to hitch-up and head to the lake…

...Which I can’t wait to do come spring. Meanwhile, I’ll see you around the winter boat shows!


This article first appeared in the Year End Issue (Nov/Dec) 2018 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Gift Ideas

Go back | Show other stories