West Marine’s Top Picks for 2010


Practical Sailor hasn’t tested any of these products yet, but weve evaluated plenty of Harken gear, a variety of gadgets from Blue Sea Systems, and various apparel from West Marine in the past.

Winches are one of those product lines that see very little change over the years, particularly in the lower-end price range. The ease of installation on the new Harken self-tailing winch looks appealing, and the price isn’t too painful. Our last test was in June 2006, when the Andersen winches rated highest.

Based in Bellingham, Wash., Blue Sea Systems manufactures a line of high quality battery selector and disconnect switches. Their website is a pretty useful resource for anyone tackling onboard battery system projects. Back in April of 2002, we reviewed their innovative remote circuit breaker, and the companys 9001e was our favorite in our battery selector switch test in 2005. Designed to eliminate wiring clutter, improve safety, and reduce lengthy wire runs, the will appeal to some sailboats owners who are rethinking their boat battery systems.

The Typhoon jacket looks to have some nice (even if theyre not new) features, but as mentioned in our recent mens foul weather gear test, were not big fans of dark colors on deck, even if youre talking about warm weather gear. Red or yellow are more visible in a man-overboard incident.

Look for some updates on these and other products when you subscribe to Practical Sailor.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at darrellnicholson.com.