Boat Toys: Submersible Scooters, eFoils and Tankless Dive Systems Amplify the Fun

We asked our charter-boat friends which watersports gear to buy for our cruising boat. They had definite favorites.
Sea Eagle LB11
The Sea Eagle LB11’s versatility in flat water or surf—for beginners or experts—makes it a great carry-on for cruisers. Courtesy The Manufacturer

I will admit to being a ­low-tech sailor. On my own cruising boat, the water toys are typically limited to a paddleboard, snorkeling gear, and maybe a couple of pool noodles if we go all out. 

But I have seen the other boats with all the cool gadgets, and envied their fun in the sun. I asked for advice from Capt. RJ Portman and chef/mate Jenna Taylor of the 50-foot Lagoon Delana Mae. Their boat charters in the Caribbean, so they look for toys that amplify the guest experience while being simple to deploy, and easy to clean, stow, and maintain.

The top toy aboard Delana Mae is the Bote Dock Hangout, an inflatable, ­horseshoe-shaped lounge. “Guests absolutely love this thing,” RJ says. “We put it out at every anchorage and even anchor it near the beach occasionally. It has this paddleboard-style base with soft, inflatable back pillows for relaxing with a beverage. It’s rigid in use, then totally collapsible when you’re done.”

Group relaxing on the Bote Dock Hangout
When it’s time to unwind, the Bote Dock Hangout. Capt. RJ Portman

Next on their list is a pair of submersible scooters from Sublue: the WhiteShark Mix and WhiteShark Mix Pro

“They move you about the speed of decent flipper kicks while snorkeling,” Jenna says, adding that these toys run for 30 to 45 minutes. “For more-advanced users, it’s a lot of fun to get deep fast and cruise around without burning much oxygen. You can cover so much ground without a whole lot of effort.” 

RJ’s personal favorite toy is also the boat’s priciest: the Lift eFoil.

 “It comes with an $11,000 price tag, but, oh baby, is it cool,” he says. “I can teach a person how to foil in about two hours over two to three sessions.” 

Battery life varies for the eFoil, he says, but typically the battery outlasts the sessions, and takes only about two hours to fully recharge. 

Another guest favorite is the Subwing towable. Guests hold the board, as opposed to a rope, and can quickly learn to submerge, corkscrew, and otherwise indulge their inner dolphin. “It’s the most fun you can have at 1 mile per hour,” RJ says. “But Subwing requires a dinghy driver and me to be away from the boat and other guests, so we favor the ­underwater scooters instead.”

Subwing towable
Thrill-seekers will enjoy the underwater dynamics of the Subwing towable. Courtesy The Manufacturer

Another toy that they have is the Sea LiOn, a battery-­powered, tankless diving ­system that floats ­independently on the ­surface and allows for up to three divers to go as deep as 65 feet. It requires a more involved setup, evaluation and ­monitoring of the divers, and a more tedious breakdown and cleaning process after use. This system, however, does come in doubly handy for the crew when cleaning the bottom of the boat or doing repairs. 

The couple also recommends investing in good beach-party gear. They like the Sun Ninja tent with UPF 50 protection. “It’s easy to set up and packs down smaller than a GoodStuff sleeping bag,” Jenna says. “Get the one with four poles; it’s worth it.”

They’ve used the tent in up to 20 knots of wind. Another pro tip: Fill the bags at each corner with sand, and stretch the corners tight before installing the poles. If they still move, add water to the sand.

Sun Ninja tent
The Sun Ninja tent delivers the relaxation factor. Capt. RJ Portman

To complete the party, they bring ashore four Cliq chairs, which collapse to the size of a large water bottle, and a pair of Ultimate Ears Wonderboom portable, waterproof speakers. 

“A cozy spot with your favorite tunes on a beautiful beach,” RJ says. “It’s an ideal finish to a great day on the water.”

I must say, RJ and Jenna have inspired me to ramp up the game on my own cruising boat. And I look forward to the next time I can set sail with Delana Mae and play with the latest and greatest toys again. 

Paddling Gear

More and more cruising boats are carrying stand-up paddleboards, or SUPs. If inflatable, they are easy to roll and stow inside (we keep them in the head shower on our boat). On our Beneteau 36 Liberte, we carry the noninflatable versions using a Magma rack, which attaches easily to the stanchions. This setup keeps the decks clear and the boards easier to access, and therefore more likely to be used. 

Kayaks are also easy to ­deploy and fun to ­paddle. Sea Eagle makes an excellent line of SUPs and kayaks. My advice is to test-drive a few to see what kind of paddler you are. Do you want more stability or more speed? In general, on a cruising boat, I would opt for the stabler option. You will be more inclined to take it out in choppier conditions, and your guests will appreciate the training wheels.

An intriguing option is the Bixpy electric motor, which fits snugly into the fin box of Sea Eagle’s kayaks and SUPs, and works as a paddle assist or stand-alone propulsion option. While you’re at it, throw in a two-stage electric turbo pump to make life easier with inflatable toys. 

On Liberte, we began cruising with a kayak, but we found ourselves using the paddleboards more and more over time. There’s many a day when we don’t even launch the dinghy. We have amazed ourselves with what we can cart to and fro across reasonably calm water: laundry, groceries, propane tanks and certainly the boat dog, who loves the ride. —DK