We had a really good time doing our staff picks for this year's Gift Guide. Some are recommendations from our advertisers and some are simply things we really want! Enjoy and have fun this holiday season!
JCD Custom Race Parts
20mm Carbon Fiber Tiller Extension
Designed and built in Southport, CT by Lightning racer Gianni Cuccio, JCD’s carbon fiber tiller extension has a beautifully woven shaft, 24 inches of JCD’s exclusive spiral-ribbed handle design and the unsurpassed JCD Universal, and it’s available in fixed lengths up to 48 inches. Multi-class champion Jud Smith, who steered Africa to victory in the 2018 West Marine J/70 Worlds with a #JCD005, won’t use anything else. Established in 1995, JCD designs and manufactures innovative products for one-designs and big boats. Most are made to order for each individual customer to his or her own liking, and all are produced with meticulous craftsmanship. Check out JCD’s high performance sailing equipment at jcdcustomraceparts.com.
Eric Hopkins Watercolor Tote
To create this gorgeous tote, our friends at Sea Bags teamed up with Eric Hopkins, an artist known for capturing the exchange of energy between earth, water and sky. Featuring an original watercolor painting inspired by the Maine coast and measuring 14” high x 14” long x 5.5” wide, the tote has hand-spliced hemp rope handles. Sea Bags is donating 20% of proceeds from the sale of this tote to Maine Coast Heritage Trust to help preserve Maine’s treasured shoreline. Like all Sea Bags, the Eric Hopkins Watercolor Tote is handcrafted from recycled sails on the working waterfront in Portland, ME. To view more, visit seabags.com.
Whale Handle Steak Boards
Handcrafted by Grant Tankoos in Darien, CT from the finest maple and mahogany, these steak boards have a 3/4” juice groove and a pair of chrome plated brass whales. They’re available in two sizes with a single stripe or multi-stripe. With Soundview Millworks offers numerous handle options and engraving options, making these boards the perfect platform for creating a unique and thoughtful gift for someone special, You’ll find more serving, carving and chopping boards, trophies, furniture, and abundant gift inspiration at soundviewmillworks.com.
Made in York, Maine and Amagansett, New York (or your home workshop!)
Born of the desire of a group of hardcore surfers to build and ride their own boards, Grain Surfboards evolved into something bigger: Classic wooden surfboards for a new generation of environmentally conscious surfers. Inspired by wooden boats the founders have built and named for the graceful patterns jumping from each freshly glassed board, Grain offers several shapes and sizes designed with 3D modeling and hand-built using time honored techniques and local softwoods. They also host board-building workshops and offer Homegrown Surfboard Kits with everything you’ll need. To learn more, “log” onto grainsurfboards.com.
Spyderco Autonomy Automatic Knife
Developed in response to a request from the U.S. Coast Guard for a cutting tool to meet the demanding mission requirements of their rescue swimmers, Spyderco’s Autonomy just might save your life. Ground from H-1 steel that’s completely impervious to corrosion, the serrated SpyderEdge blade has voracious cutting power and a blunt tip for a measure of safety. The ergonomic handle with textured G-10 scales provides a sure grip, the large firing button can be operated while wearing gloves, and a sliding safety prevents unintentional activation. As a serious tool for saving lives at sea, this automatic knife may not be legal for “street carry” in your state. There’s more at spyderco.com, and a good price at cutleryshoppe.com.
Xtratuf Kryptek Ankle Deck Boots
When frostbite season arrives, I’m always pondering what to wear in the InterClub dinghy. Frankly, normal all-season dinghy boots don’t do it for me…way too cold. In an IC or a Dyer, where your feet touch the cockpit sole most of the time, you need insulated soles between that cold glass and your tootsies. A couple of my pro-sailing friends had the answer (which they rarely give up…requiring trade secrets to remain too cool for school!)
Xtratuf’s Kryptek Ankle Deck Boots have thoughtful features like pull-on handles fore and aft, protective wedges on the back of the heels for longevity, and a very thick EVA insole to keep your feet further away from cold surfaces. I got the cool light grey patterned ones that have a sort of Creature from the Black Lagoon look…totally a pro move. I got mine for $79.95 from the good folks at the DockShop, a nautical boutique with locations in Darien and Westport, CT. To see these boot and lots of other great gifts, visit dockshop.com.
Nautical Scout Collapsible Cookware
Nautical Scout offers the widest range and highest quality collapsible cookware, buckets and galley accessories you will find anywhere, in the widest range of colors available. This cookware is great on boats with limited galley storage space, and it’s built to survive the rigors of ocean sailing. Made from 100% non-toxic, FDA-approved food grade silicone, Nautical Scout’s cookware won’t release chemicals into food, and they’re fully recyclable. You’ll find lots of ways to make your boat bigger at nauticalscout.com.
UFO Foiling Catamaran
Conceived by Little America’s Cup legend Steve Clark and his son David to bring foiling to the masses, the UFO is built in Bristol, RI for reliability, low maintenance, and high performance. Checking in at a feathery 110 pounds all-up, the UFO goes from car top to “flying” in 15 to 20 minutes. It’ll take flight in about 8 knots of wind, and it’s more stable than other small, high performance foilers so you can take a kid for a thrill ride.
The UFO flies on a pair of centerline T-foils that retract between the hulls for easy beach launching. A unique jumper-strut wish-boom rig enhances safety, speed and simplicity, and a fully battened mylar sail from North Sails delivers abundant power. If your favorite sailor’s ready to Join the Invasion, visit fulcrumspeedworks.com, where you’ll find a really good and fun FAQ. The $7,600 price includes a dolly, sail, all rigging, all knots already tied, ready to sail. Fulcrum Speedworks has a “Christmas Tree Special.” Order a UFO by mid-November it’ll be under the tree this year. Wow, this makes it a very nice gift...I know I’m worth it!
Zhik Microfleece X Skiff Suit
I was a big wetsuit guy until I got a Zhik microfleece suit about 10 years ago, which I bought for frostbiting but found myself wearing on Melges 24s, etc. when it was cold, windy and rainy. I lost that one in 2012 when a box of my sailing gear was washed away in Sandy, so I recently visited WindCheck’s longest standing partner, Landfall in Stamford, CT, to see what has evolved.
Well, Santa…I need one of these. Zhiks have always fit really well but with a ribbed fleece interior to retain your body heat, their Microfleece X Skiff Suit is toasty while very light! You don’t need to be a 49er sailor to appreciate this high performance piece of kit. $215 and with tough ZhikTex II offering superior abrasion resistance in the butt and knees it should last a very long time (as long as you don’t leave it outside during a hurricane). You’ll find it and many more gifts for sailors at landfallnavigation.com.
Ronstan RF4055 ClearStart 50mm Sailing Watch
One feature on this newly re-designed Ronstan ClearStart watch makes it a total winner for me. It’s the fact that it has a SYNChronization function similar to the mast-mounted compass/timers. If you miss the signals by a few seconds, you can fine-tune it on the next one without having to restart your sequence (and thus being a minute off!) It also has large buttons, BIG easy to read displays and advanced intuitive programming specifically designed with the racing sailor in mind. And, it’s good looking enough to wear all the time…important for those of us who typically remember halfway out to the line what gear we forgot in the car. It’s on sale through December 20 for only $79.95 including free USPS shipping from your friends at The Boat Locker. Call 203-259-7808, log onto boatlocker.com to order, or visit their store in Bridgeport, CT to see an amazing selection of fully rigged, fast and fun small boats.
Hand Painted Wine Glasses by Lina
OK, this can’t just be about me! I found these beautiful wine glasses, hand painted by an artist in Shelton, CT named Carolina Abreu Fontes, in the Ship’s Store at Norwalk Cove Marina in East Norwalk, CT. Honestly, for $18 apiece, the labor of love/skill-to-price ratio is pretty amazing. You will be a big hero with friends and family if you get a set of these for the holiday table. In addition to the Ship’s Store at Norwalk Cove Marina, you can view Carolina’s art on her Facebook page or email her at email@example.com
The Fair Lead
Dog Leashes & Collars
If your favorite sailor’s dog is as salty as he or she is, The Fair Lead offers beautiful handmade leashes and collars, crafted in Jamestown, RI by Jess Wurzbacher from marine grade materials. The 5-foot leashes are made with 3-strand nylon line from New England Ropes in several colors. The hand-stitched leather handle makes walking your dog a pleasure, and a bronze swivel snap clip provides secure attachment. You can clip keys or poop bags to the ring on the handle, or clip the leash over your shoulder when your dog’s running free. The hardware won’t rust…because we all know where salty dogs always end up! For more information, visit thefairlead.com.
Thankful Wine Bag
Gratitude always has a place at the table. Bring your favorite bottle of wine or whiskey to the Thanksgiving meal in a reusable bag that makes a statement. The attached log will record everyone’s appreciation for years to come. Made from recycled sails, the Thankful Wine Bag has a hemp rope handle. This thoughtful gift and many others can be found at seabags.com.
Froats Boat Shoes
A Baltimore-based brand aiming to rock the free world with awesome men’s casual footwear, Froats makes fresh boat shoes unlike any you’ve seen before, featuring vivid patterns printed on leather in a super exclusive proprietary process. They’re carefully crafted with the best materials to ensure maximum comfort, durability, and all around sexiness. Froats’ selection of fun styles includes The Charleston Blues, The Bermuda Breeze, and The Sharks and Minnows (pictured). If your favorite sailor’s ready to cut loose and chase the goose, visit froats.myshopify.com.
Maggie Lee Designs
Compass Rose Pendant
Since 2007, Maggie Lee’s Compass Rose Collection has developed into an extensive, ever-evolving line of Compass designs incorporating pearls, gemstones and custom longitude & latitude coordinates. Each creation is fueled by this magnificent symbol of true north, adventure, exploration, personal journeys, staying on course…and SAILING! To view Maggie’s other collections and information about her open studio events in historic Stonington, CT, visit maggieleedesigns.com.
Drawing on Maine boat building tradition and pride to deliver quality and durability, the Puffin Boat Company makes custom small boats for families looking for an affordable way to connect with each other on the water, that can be easily operated by young children. Available in 7’6”, 8’6” and 10’6” models, Puffin Dinghies can be sailed, rowed, or powered with a small outboard motor.
You can choose from eight colors or a very cool vinyl wrap. Located in Hampden, ME, the Puffin Boat Co. builds boats to order and sells directly to boaters. If you already own a classic boat, they can restore and improve it to your specifications. To learn more, visit puffinboatcompany.com.
Winner of the ‘Best New Electronics Product’ award in this year’s Newport International Boat Show ‘Newport For New Products’ showcase, the Vakaros Atlas has state-of-the-art sensors, an advanced display, and a lightweight, fully waterproof design. The Atlas measures real-time GPS speed, magnetic heading, heel, pitch and leeway, all in a single wireless instrument. You can control the start with the most accurate distance and time to line, track shifts intuitively, and use VMG to find the optimum mode. Sophisticated analytics tools let you review your performance and track improvement over time. You can configure the graphic display from your phone, and multi-day battery life helps you stay focused. To elevate your sailing, visit vakaros.com.
Hunt Harrier 26
And lastly, being aspirational is part of the fun of the holidays. When my wife and I talk about the perfect powerboat for this moment in time, we each have key criteria. She really, really wants a bench seat with a comfortable backrest. I really want a seaworthy boat and that means a Hunt design or very similar; not much wiggle room there. What we both need is something powerful enough to tow our budding water skier/tuber/wakeboarder behind with no real limits. And we both want something that can winter in our driveway.
The easiest way to narrow down our choices was to talk to longtime WindCheck friend Tom Pilkington at Prestige Yacht Sales. Without hesitation, Tom recommended the Hunt Harrier 26 with its timeless classic style made modern to accommodate our needs…guessing we aren’t the only ones with this list! A versatile seating plan can handle a crowd of ten (not sure we even have ten friends but we can work on that) and the spacious cockpit includes an on-deck wet bar with fridge and award-winning ergonomic helm…those items fit squarely in the aspirational category. The Harrier 26’s cabin has a generous bunk for naps and overnights, a marine toilet and makes a convenient changing room after a swim. You’ll find more at huntyachts.com and prestigeyachtsales.net. If Santa needs to ask the price then it’s no longer aspirational! Come on, Santa!
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
Another frostbite must have for Ben! The Micro Puff Hoody delivers the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket Patagonia has ever created. The featherlight PlumaFill insulation retains your body heat even when it’s wet, and the nylon ripstop Pertex Quantum shell, with a durable waterproof repellent finish, blocks wind and snow. Other features include zippered handwarmer pockets (the left one doubles as a stuffsack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop), two internal pockets, a lightweight hood, and elasticized cuffs and hem. It’s available at landfallnavigation.com.
Classics Racing Calendar
by Yana Copek
Pleasing to behold and wonderful to sail, wooden racing yachts have a loveliness unmatched by modern counterparts, and no one captures their beauty quite like photographer Yana Copek. Featuring the graceful lines and gleaming brightwork of the Classics Fleet at Oakcliff Sailing in Oyster Bay, New York, Yana’s 2019 Classics Racing Calendar is a gift any sailor would love. To order one (or perhaps one for everyone on your crew!), visit yanafotos.com/Category/2019-Classics-Racing-CALENDAR/.