By now, everyone is certain to be fully organized for Christmas, allthe presents long-ago selected and wrapped.
Some of us aren't that organized, however, and for those of us running a little late, or for those who still need to find just one more perfect gift for their favorite sailors, here are a few suggestions.
Santa's helpers who feel extravagant, but want to find a gift that's certain to please, might consider a GPS unit ($1,700-$1,800 rangeat Coast Navigation). GPS, or Global Positioning System, is the latest in navigational tools, with pin-point accuracy anywhere on the globe, including here in the Chesapeake, where Loran signals can be weakor slightly scrambled by interference, radio towers, natural or man-made geographic features, bad weather, and such.
None of these Loran-beaters have any impact on the effectiveness of GPS.
"GPS is the way to go. It's the hot thing this year, and we're actually sellinga lot of them," explained Coast's Beth Kahr.
Kahr also said that in the sky's-the-limit category, Fujinon's new night scope, at around$2,000, is also a dream gift for many sailors.
Down on City Dock at Fawcett Boat Supplies, purchaser Barbara Brown said an Avon roll-up dinghy would be her idea of a useful, instantly loved, but extravagant, gift.
In two sizes -- a four-person, 9-foot model and a five-person 10-footer -- it is an inflatable boat with an integral hard floor that rolls up.
"It's the best of the hard dinghy and the best of an inflatable," Brown said.
Fawcett's discounts the boats to $1,980 and $2,250.
With that out of the way, more moderate budgets can be met with a wide variety of useful gifts that will bring seasonsof pleasure to your favorite sailor.
Brown recommended one of thenew Harken traveler system upgrade kits, which come in three sizes to cover small, medium and large boats and cost $295 to $500 at Fawcett's.
Prosaic, yes, but it's a practical item designed to make yoursailor's life much nicer. A windward-sheeting car system made from the conversion kit is truly deluxe and saves a lot of struggle, since all it takes is a pull on the windward side of the traveler to raise it. No more worrying about whether the leeward side is uncleated after a tack.
Over at Coast, Kahr was excited about the new line of lightweight, effective and compact Fortress anchors, ranging from $70 to $400, which come disassembled for ease in stowing -- and wrapping.
"Imagine, an anchor you can actually gift-wrap," Kahr said.
Other goodies in the more moderate range which are certain to please might include a Crewsaver inflatable life vest, at about $200, for anyone who sails short-handed, offshore or at night. Before inflation, it's flat, relatively comfortable and unobtrusive, meaning your sailor will tend to wear it more often than bulky kapok PFDs -- and they don't work if you don't wear them.
A Lifesling man-overboard recovery system, about $100, is another safety-related item that makes an excellent gift. It's the kind of thing one hopes never to have to use, but works wonderfully and can save lives.
This is a popular item with women, since it increases confidence by making it possible for a small person to lift a larger person aboard without danger or strain, while allowing for a lesser degree of precision in boat-handling to deploy.
Personal compasses for your racing sailor, ranging upward from $100, are also hot items this Christmas. With digital readouts andmemory, they are great for keeping track of the competition, but also helpful for general piloting and navigation, since they can remember and recall multiple bearings to transfer to a chart.
In the stocking-stuffer category, or for a last-minute addition to
your gift list, don't forget the new ADC Chart Book, at about $30, or the DNR'sGuide to Maryland Waterways, slightly less costly, but covering onlythe area from the Susquehanna to the southern side of the Potomac River mouth.
Both publications include all the latest updated charts, which is nice, since most of us still aren't entirely used to the new names and locations of many of the marks around here.
Things like sailing gloves to replace a worn-out pair also make popular presents, as do sailing hats, rigging knives, tools, attractive log books and other gizmos.
Brown recommended the Ultimate Sailing Hat at $29, a Tilley-type affair made of very lightweight nylon, while Kahr spoke up in favor of an ultimately useful four-in-one screwdriver for $7.95. (My husband is lost without his and would be happy if he had three or four of them, so he wouldn't have to transfer it around from house to car to boat).
Your favorite frostbiter will appreciate somecapilene or polypropylene long johns, such as those made by Patagonia, some wool socks, or a snug wool or acrylic hat that can be securedaround the ears.
Frostbiting has taught many of us that cotton iscold and damp on the water, while wool, nylon and many synthetics actually work much better.
Your favorite local boating emporium is well-stocked with items to make your favorite sailor happy. Take a fewminutes this week to check it out and see what you can find, whetherit be a simple stocking-stuffer, such as a leash for a hat or a pairof glasses, or something truly wonderful like a GPS or roll-up inflatable dinghy.
But if your budget's all blown, with nothing left over, consider giving your sailor a coupon redeemable for time helping with maintenance, wet-sanding the bottom, varnishing, or some other ugly springtime chore. That's probably a winner in any sailor's book.
Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in TheAnne Arundel County Sun.