By Craig GrosbyThe innocuous boathook, though simple in form, is critical for docking and mooring. It acts as an extension of the human arm, assisting with ordinary daily tasks, and is one of the most overlooked but important pieces of boating safety equipment. During docking, a boathook should be used for fending off, instead of hands and feet. It’s also used to retrieve items floating in the water.
Today many boathooks serve as multifunctional tools, converting into deck brushes, mops, squeegees and fishing nets.
I tested three different brands and discovered some well-designed boathooks to meet almost every need. All three boathooks performed as advertised. They’re boathooks, after all—simple tools that make boating easier. Deciding which to buy depends on your idea of what a boathook should do. Is it a single-purpose device or multifunctional? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Beckson Marine Hook-Mate
Starting at $29.80
Available in fixed lengths from 3 to 8 feet, the Hook-Mate stays rigid and won’t collapse accidentally in an emergency. Beckson Marine claims that its hook end is the world’s most copied and permits pushing, pulling and retrieving without slippage. The double ball design looks odd at first, but once you use it, you’ll understand why it’s so effective. With an aluminum shaft sheathed in PVC vinyl, this hook won’t mar your boat, won’t rust and cleans easily for a lifetime of service.
The one-piece fixed-length shaft is ready to go at a moment’s notice. You don’t have to fumble with twisting or pushing buttons to adjust the length. It won’t jam, pull apart or collapse. The pistol handgrip is aligned with the head, making the hook easy to use underwater.
The boathook performed flawlessly in testing. The vinyl felt good in my hand, and the pistol handgrip felt secure, like it wouldn’t slip out of my hand. Retrieving mooring lines was easy, and when using it to fend off other boats at a recent raft-up, I didn’t worry that it would scratch the gelcoat. Make no mistake, this excellent boathook fulfills its single purpose flawlessly.
Davis Instruments Telescoping Boat Hook Model 4122
Starting at $36.99
The Davis Instruments telescoping boathook extends from 53 to 96 inches. A virtually indestructible Lexan hook end tops off the aluminum shaft, and three-quarter-inch Acme thread at the tip can be used to attach almost any type of deck brush, mop head, broom, brush, scraper, paint roller or other tool. A highly visible, bright orange vinyl cover protects the thread and won’t mar finish when the boathook is used to fend off. Davis offers a lifetime guarantee on the hook end. The boathook also floats. The main shaft is slightly thicker than the movable shaft, which slides inside.
Adjusting the length was easy, and once set, it didn’t collapse or pull apart. I used it in a variety of situations—pushing and pulling—and it performed very well.
Shurhold Boat Hook
$31.98 for 6-foot telescopic handle
Shurhold offers a complete multifunctional marine system that includes a handle that fits more than 40 attachments, one of which is a boathook. Described as a 3-in-1 device, the boathook features a line-carrying feature, centered push-off and a basic boathook.
The system starts with the shaft: a two-piece, lightweight, adjustable, corrosion-resistant aluminum pole. To adjust the length, you press a button and slide the two pieces apart. A red line along the inner shaft helps you align the two shafts so the button finds the next hole to lock in. If you want full extension, just twist the two pieces off center, and when you’re ready to lock it in, align the red line and the button pops into place. Holes are placed every 12 inches. If you want a custom length so that it fits neatly into a rod holder or other compartment, you could probably drill your own hole. The end used to attach the boathook (sold separately) is a short shaft with a button that locks into the end of the pole.
Shurhold has more than 40 attachments that can be used with this pole.
Craig Grosby, P, is a member of Coral Ridge Sail & Power Squadron/8. He enjoys traveling up and down Florida’s East Coast visiting such great places as Lake Boca, Miami’s Baker Haulover Sandbar and, of course, Fort Lauderdale’s venerable Lake Sylvia.
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