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10 Cool Things to Take on Your Summer Cruise

It's just you, your sails, the wind and water. You don't need anything else to enjoy a good summer cruise. Oh, who are we kidding? There's all kinds of fun and useful gear, and our ten favorites for this summer are sure to take your next cruise into some serious fun territory.

1. A paddleboard.

Standup paddleboards (SUPs) are the latest and hottest water toy. They’re not only fun, they give your core muscles a great workout—and kids love them. We can easily carry our 11ft Hobie Durasup board on our 34ft sloop; we just remove the fin and lash the board between the shrouds and the cabintop. We’ve also sailed with an inflatable SUP; these are not as stable as fiberglass boards, but they’re much lighter and stowing them is not a problem.

2. A kayak.

If your boat has the space on deck for a lightweight rotomolded kayak, by all means take one on your cruise. A kayak is just the thing for exploring shallow shorelines and rivers. As with an SUP, rigid is better, but an inflatable kayak is a versatile option that’s easy to stow and adequate for most purposes. We’ve tried them from Sea Eagle and West Marine, and like them both.

3. A kayak sail.

Now that you’ve got a kayak aboard, how about rigging it up with a sail? A number of options are available for use aboard both rigid and inflatable boats, including the RapidUp Sail from Advanced Elements Inc. and the QuickSail Universal Kayak Sail from Sea Eagle. Each one comes ready with various lanyards, D rings and clips so they can be adapted to a wide range of designs.

4. A sea scooter.

Snorkeling with fins is so 2011. A lithium-ion battery-powered propeller on this water toy will tow you along on or under the surface at a knot or two. Just right for checking out the sea life or diving on your anchor. Sea-Doo makes a range to suit all budgets.

5. A Diverbike.

But what if a water scooter doesn’t quite have the oomph to keep you happy? Unleash your inner James Bond with a Marlin X4 from German company Diverbike. This sea scooter on steroids can take you as deep as 130 feet and zoom along at 10 knots. It looks awkward to stow, but that aside, you’ll be the talk of the anchorage.

6. A hammock.

There’s nothing like reclining at ease in a hammock, frosty glass in hand and the sun kissing the horizon at the end of another great day on the water. Any number of hammocks can be adapted to hang between your forestay and mast, but we like this Sailor’s Deck Hammock from Banner Bay Marine. For one thing, thing, it packs away to almost nothing.

 7. A Cobb grill.

If your boat doesn’t have an oven, don’t fret. This clever charcoal grill/convection oven can roast a chicken, cook a pizza or smoke some ribs burning for three hours on a handful of briquettes.

The cool thing—literally—is that the base doesn’t get at all hot, meaning that you can cook on your cockpit table or the deck. It weights under 10lb and comes with a bag for stowage.

8. An awning.

Shade is a vital commodity on a boat and an awning is one of those purchases you’ll never regret. You can make one yourself or buy one made for the job. Shadetree’s rugged Sunbrella deck awnings can handle strong winds and can be left in place while sailing, if you don’t mind not hoisting the mainsail, that is. Ronstan’s inflatable-arch awning is a more lightweight, easily stowed affair. Either one will keep the heat off.

9. A floating hot tub.

This is something we discovered last summer, and it hasn’t become any less amazing with the passage of time. The TugTub is a portable floating hot tub that takes just five minutes to deploy and an hour to heat to 104F, providing even the lowliest weekend cruiser with an amenity worthy of a megayacht. TugTubs are available with seats or flat bottoms for two or four people. A number of accessories are available, including—of course!—cup holders.

10. Folding bicycle.

A set of wheels not only opens up a world of possibility on shore, but a bike ride is a great way to stretch out those legs after a long passage. Designers have come up with various different designs that can be folded broken down into either larger or smaller packages. One of the most compact is the CarryMe featuring a pair of ultra-small 8in wheels. For higher speeds try the Boston from Montague Bikes, a simple single-speed bike for the rigors of offshore life.

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