Whether you are a weekend boater, spend months cruising or simply love getting away from it all for an hour or two in the evening, a selection of toys can make your hard-earned time off even more relaxing and enjoyable.
Our mantra at Zombies Can’t Swim is that the best times on the water are easy, fun and make you feel good. However, as with many activities, there are some practical issues and pitfalls that are worth considering when choosing a toy or two.
Relaxation vs. Adrenaline
There is a huge range of toys and towables on the market. If you are looking for family fun then you may want to strike a balance between energetic activities for the kids and somewhere for the adults to sunbathe and chat.
A popular combination is the Nautibuoy platform with boarding ladder, used as a floating island with a Seabob (protected by a floating C-dock, also available from Nautibuoy). Adults can keep an eye on anyone in the water and the sensation of floating close to the water on a really stable platform whilst sunbathing is deeply relaxing.
Storage and Maintenance
It may be tempting to tour a boat show and purchase a wide selection of toys then realise you have used up all of the storage space on your boat and you now have many hours of inflating, washing down and rolling up your water playground!
Fortunately, companies such as Nautibuoy and Freestyle Cruiser provide all of the storage information you need and have carefully considered how to make their slides, platforms and trampolines as light and low maintenance as possible. It is often worth thinking about who is going to be picking up the items and are they easy to handle? An inflatable ‘boat in a bag’ can be just 34kg however this can still be tricky if you are lowering it into a boat locker or lifting it onto a deck. What is easy for one person may be harder for another.
Spending a few minutes talking to an expert can help you perfectly match your toy choices to your boat and make the process of setting them up and storing them easy. Grosvenor Yachts, for example, maintains a specialist centre called Art of Evolution where the people are always more than happy to help with any questions no matter how big or small.
Budget and Investment
For those who just want to dip a toe into the water (forgive the pun) of toys then a low-cost commitment is an inflatable paddle board or a bouncy towable to pull people along behind your boat or tender. There are even family sized SUPs which are loads of fun and can be used for strenuous paddling, messing about or even a spot of floating yoga. Buying from companies such as Jobe gives peace of mind as most products come with a 3 year guarantee. Jobe have lots of choice, plenty of fun towables and a good range of wakeboards for showing off jumps and tricks (don’t forget the Go Pro).
For the more serious investment, there is now an established range of manufacturers producing electric powered boards, foiling boards, sea sleds and even hydrofoiling watercraft with styling and engineering reminiscent of the best of Formula 1. People looking for thrills, performance and styling are unlikely to be disappointed by the array of amazing toys that are now available.
They are easy to maintain (just a quick wash with fresh water is enough to keep them in great condition) and the manufacturers are keen to support customers with any queries and technical enquiries. A well-maintained Seabob, for example retains its value reasonably well and there is a market for second-hand items if you want to perhaps start with the F5 and upgrade to the faster, higher specified models later on.
It is also worth considering how you would use one of these toys, they are powerful items of equipment and some additional safety equipment is often recommended, such as a helmet or a buoyancy aid. They can also be used in different ‘modes’ and restrictions placed on their speed or ability to dive when being used by younger people or beginners. For those who love speed, thrills and a certain amount of G-force there is a satisfying adrenaline rush.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the truly beautiful and artistic wooden paddleboards that are emerging. Combining the best of nature, classic and modern design with technical knowledge these are products that could well become treasured family heirlooms. The origins of the woods used are part of their appeal and care is given to use materials that reduce impact upon the environment. Appreciating the beauty of the water whilst riding a beautifully crafted board, no better way to let go, switch off and live ‘in the moment’.