For quite some time boat manufacturers have been labeling boats as crossover or multi-activity vessels. But until recently very few crossovers could effectively do“everything.” They would shine in one area and be marginal in others. Now, however, a lot of boats can accommodate several different forms of fun on the water. As boats’ capabilities have expanded, so have the demands of their watersports-dedicated passengers. If you want a boat that’s able to shift from activity to activity with minimum hassle, be sure you have the right gear aboard, some of which can serve more than one purpose. We hope life jackets go without saying, but we’re mentioning them anyway. Have them. We prefer the Ronix Covert model at The Boarding School (theboardingschool.com), for its streamlined fit and comfort.
Inflatable disc. People have been riding discs behind the boat for decades, and they have made a comeback in the past few years. The beauty of a disc is that people can ride it in a lot of different ways, making it fun for kids and adults alike. A disc can also serve as a substitute for a tube, for boat owners who don’t like pulling tubers.
Open-water slalom ski. Several companies are making user-friendly slalom skis. They are easier to get up on and fun to carve around on. Skis such as the Radar Union aren’t necessarily made for running the slalom course, but rather for riding at slower speeds and ripping some turns in open water. We have been teaching beginners, transitioning wakeboarders and returning former skiers back to the sport over the past few years. Suddenly people who thought they would never ski are having the time of their life.
Wakeboard with open-toe boots. Pro model wakeboards and closed-toe boots are awesome, but on a multi-activity, multi-boarder boat, the versatility of an entry-level board with open-toe boots that can serve a range of sizes is invaluable. You’re better off getting a slightly bigger board, because it’s easier for a smaller person to ride a big board than for a large person to ride a small one.
Ropes. Have at least two ropes. First, get a low-stretch rope that has a lot of takeoff loops, ranging from 50 to 75 or 85 feet long. Such a rope offers the option to ski and wakeboard and accommodate a lot of different speeds and skill levels. Wakesurfing requires a dedicated wakesurf rope that is shorter and thicker, so riders are much less likely to get tangled in it. A dedicated rope is much safer than making a normal rope shorter. Get one with a floating handle, which makes it much easier to get the handle to the rider when picking him up. I also use the floating handle when teaching kids. It can save a ton of time and frustration in the water.
Tool kit. I always assemble a small tool kit on the boat. A small plastic container can stow under one of the seats and hold a few items that can save the day. I always keep some basic tools: screwdrivers, pliers, Allen keys, zip ties, a quart of oil, a small funnel, a razor knife or scissors, and electrical or duct tape. You can be a hero and at least get back to the dock by fixing small issues that might otherwise leave you stranded. It’s not a bad idea to have an old rope in there too. That way, if all else fails and you need a tow, you don’t have to use a nice rope.
First aid kit. It’s good to have some bandages, coach’s tape, peroxide, antibacterial wipes, and nail clippers or small nail scissors. And, this may sound extreme, but a small neck collar is a good idea. That way if someone takes a bad fall, you can secure him safely until you get back to the dock.
Sun gear. I still use plenty of sunscreen, but I’ve started to rely on protective clothing too. Before I hop on the boat in the morning, I don a long-sleeved UV-protective shirt and a sun mask. Everyone asks if I’m hot, but it’s actually way cooler than wearing regular clothing, and I’m protected from the sun’s rays. A sunburn or heat exhaustion will definitely ruin the day.
Cleaning gear. It’s nice to have a small bucket of cleaning supplies. I have a dedicated “boat towel,” some seat cleaner, cleaner wax, etc. Compile your own kit or buy a premade bucket of cleaners from Babe’s Boat Care, Shurhold or BoatLife that can handle any stain or mess.
Towels/blankets. Not having enough towels and trying to make do with a sopping towel that five people have used is a real downer. I also keep one or two small blankets in the boat, for those chilly boat rides back to the dock.