Marine News from the Great Lakes

This Year’s Boating Finds

Published: Friday, November 27, 2020
By: Dan Armitage

The following are accessories that have earned a position aboard my own Great Lakes boat this past season—with one exception: I’ve got a good watch that keeps on ticking despite dunkings (in fact, I never take it off) and can’t yet justify the cost of a new one. But if I did, the Garmin timepiece included here would be at the top of my wish list.

ACR Electronic’s new ResQFlare is a safe, convenient, and cost-effective electronic signaling device that replaces traditional pyrotechnic flares and their need for periodic replacement. The high-intensity LED electronic distress flare and accompanying distress flag provide a complete emergency signaling solution that is certified to meet USCG requirements as a reliable and efficient alternative to using pyrotechnic flares. The ResQFlare and Flag are individually classified as approved Visual Distress Signals for night and day, respectively, ensuring Great Lakes boaters—and those in all US waters—are fully equipped with the required gear for vessels to attract the attention of rescue personnel in an emergency.

Enhancing the chance of survival and rescue by emitting the flash characteristic for the International Morse Code for S-O-S, the waterproof and buoyant ACR ResQFlare automatically rights itself in the water, providing 360˚ visibility for over six miles. The distress flare’s high-efficiency electronics ensure a substantial operational life, with the LED strobe maintaining 75 cd peak equivalent fixed intensity for over 20 hours, which is more than three times longer than USCG requirements. Compact, lightweight, and easy to operate, the ResQFlare features a durable design and a user replaceable battery power source, ensuring it is a one-time purchase that will provide plenty of seasons of service.

The supplied ACR Distress Flag, included in the package with every ResQFlare, offers numerous daylight signaling options. Displayed with the black square over the black circle, the flag can be flown on the mast or highest possible point, displayed by hand, or waved on a boat hook, paddle, or fishing rod. It can also be laid flat on the deck to attract aircraft.

The ResQFlare is certified under USCG 161.013 as a Night-time Visual Distress Signal, while the Distress Flag is certified under USCG 160.072 as a Daytime Visual Distress Signal. Carriage of the ResQFlare and Distress Flag together allows boaters to forego the requirement for traditional pyrotechnic flares when on vessels up to 65ft in length, boating on the Great Lakes, within 12 miles of US waters, or on any body of water with a passageway to the sea at least two miles wide. Vessels less than 16ft are not required to carry a Day Visual Distress Signal, but must still carry a Night Visual Distress Signal, making the ResQFlare a viable alternative to pyrotechnic flares for smaller boats.

The ResQFlare package can be purchased for $79.95. For boaters looking to equip their vessels with survival equipment in one complete kit, ACR Electronics includes the ResQFlare and Daytime Distress Flag in two new GlobalFix V4 EPIRB Safety Kits. Learn more at

Davis Instruments’ new Shockles, described as “bungee cords on steroids,” are strong, stretchable straps that come in three lengths (12-, 18- and 24-inches). These straps have a tough, UV-resistant nylon cover, feature stainless steel snaps, and are rated to hold up to 300 pounds. ‘Nuff said as I’m certain you already have some on-board applications floating around in your head for these handy, high-strength straps. Learn more at

Introduced at IBEX in October 2020 from Pettit, AnchorTech Marine Grade Sealants and Adhesives are available for a wide range of boating needs. The Premium Fast Dry Adhesive Sealant is a paintable, hybrid polyurethane adhesive sealant that provides excellent permanent adhesion to fiberglass, plastic, wood, teak, aluminum, steel, boat hardware, and other substrates in or out of the water. It leaves a 100% waterproof seal and is approved for permanent water submersion, provides excellent flexibility with superior resilience for joint movement +/- 25%, and has excellent “green strength,” meaning it exhibits instant grab-and-hold characteristics.

AnchorTech’s Advanced Hybrid Sealant is a paintable, fast dry hybrid sealant that also offers excellent adhesion to fiberglass, plastic, wood, aluminum, steel, boat hardware, and other substrates that forms a 100% waterproof seal. It stays flexible to withstand joint expansion and contraction caused by weather and temperature fluctuations, yet won’t shrink, crack, or break down. The Advance Hybrid Sealant can be applied to wet surfaces and in temperatures as low as 20°F, after which it dries rain-proof and paint-ready in 30 minutes, and is easy gunning, smooth tooling, low odor, VOC-compliant and, once cured, the sealant is mold and mildew resistant.

AnchorTech’s UV Resistant Adhesive Sealant is also a fast-dry, paintable, UV resistant adhesive sealant providing excellent permanent adhesion to fiberglass, plastic, wood, teak, aluminum, steel, boat hardware, and other substrates. It forms a waterproof seal while remaining flexible to withstand joint expansion and contraction caused by weather and temperature fluctuations, and it won’t shrink, crack, yellow, crumble, or break down. It can be applied to wet surfaces and in low temperatures and is paint-ready in one hour. It also guns out easily, tools smoothly, is low in odor, VOC-compliant, and mold and mildew resistant.

Find out more about this trio of new marine adhesives and sealants from Pettit at

This past summer, Garmin announced that they have added solar charging capabilities to their popular line of marine GPS smartwatches. The new quatix 6X Solar is the first marine-grade GPS smartwatch to offer solar charging, using the sun's energy to extend battery life on land and water—up to 21 days in smartwatch mode and up to 24 days with solar charging. It offers specialized boating, fishing, cruising, and sailing capabilities, including comprehensive connectivity with compatible Garmin chartplotters and other marine electronics to offer autopilot control, data streaming, sail race assistance, Fusion-Link entertainment control, and more.

Like other models in the quatix 6 series, the quatix 6X Solar adds support for optional BlueChart g3 coastal charts and LakeVu g3 inland maps with improved chart presentation for the latest in Garmin marine cartography. Other sought-after features offered on the quatix 6X Solar include: built-in activity profiles and performance metrics for water and land sports; smart notifications; enhanced wrist-heart rate; contactless payments with Garmin Pay; and music storage. The quatix 6X Solar includes a titanium watch band as well as a cirrus blue silicone QuickFit band, and it's available now for $1149.99. Learn more at

According to Shurhold, a proper dual-action polisher cuts the work time and does a far better job than what can be achieved by human power alone to get a boat’s finish looking ship-shape. After using one, I agree. 

Shurhold's Dual Action Polisher offers an ergonomic D-style handle, comfortable trigger grip, and a weight of just six pounds, allowing the user to operate the machine for long periods without fatigue. The variable speed control can be set anywhere from 2,500–6,500 opm; the higher end is useful for grinding, the slower speeds for polishing and buffing. Available separately, a 6-inch touch-tape backing pad accepts a variety of compounding and polish pads. MSRP is $149.99 from

As a primary for small craft or as a backup to a larger boat, having a portable VHF on board while boating Great Lakes waters is a great idea. The HH36 from Simrad is a fully functioning, portable radio that's waterproof, so it's ideal for center-consoles and open boats that tend to get wet. It floats, too, so it won't sink to the bottom if you drop it in your favorite Great Lake. It's DSC compatible; program in your boat's MMSI number and, even if you can't speak, you can activate the distress button on the front to summon help in an emergency. A large backlit display shows the channel you've selected. Best of all, you can display your track and position utilizing the built-in GPS. 

The HH36 is switchable between outputs of one and five watts, and Simrad claims a battery life of 11 hours on its low setting, so you should be able to get out and back on a daylong excursion without recharging. MSRP is $249 from

Standard cup holders typically don't accommodate anything larger than three inches in diameter. To ensure a beverage in any size container stays put, the Adjustable Drink Holder from Accon Marine has a unique dual-armed design, which secures everything from a two-liter soda bottle to a long-stemmed wine glass. It’s available in marine-grade stainless steel or aluminum and snaps securely into a quick-release base. The holder pivots for optimal positioning and removes with the press of a button when no longer needed. It extends vertically 2.5” and the arms span from 2.5” to 4”. An optional spring-loaded Wine Glass Holder Insert is also available.

The quick-release base surface mounts with two #10 screws and because it’s a flush mount, cutouts aren't needed. The Adjustable Drink Holder from Accon Marine costs $78.52 for the stainless steel model and $62.36 for the aluminum, from


About the Author

Dan Armitage is a popular Great Lakes-based outdoor writer and host of the Buckeye Sportsman show (, syndicated weekly on 30 radio stations across Ohio. Dan is a certified Passport to Fishing instructor and leads kids fishing programs at Midwest boat and sport shows, and is a licensed Captain with a Master rating from the US Coast Guard.

This article first appeared in the Buyer's Guide 2021 (Nov/Dec 2020) of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.

tags: Accessories, Navigation, Retrofitting

2021 jan

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