Favorite Vendors

This page contains — in no particular order — links to some of our favorite vendors of sailing, marine, and other nautical stuff. (Actually, “favorite” might be overstating the case. Some of these are included, not because we necessarily like shopping with them, but because we shop there often enough to know a bit about them.)

Actually, not every link on this page is to a “vendor” per se. Some of them identify other sailing resources that we’ve found useful. Maybe you will, too.

  • West Marine (www.westmarine.com): Is it going too far to refer to them as “America’s chandler”? Yes, it is, but we buy a lot from them because of their ubiquity and (arguable) convenience. Most of their prices are list prices, and the service at many of their stores has deteriorated markedly in the last couple of years, but they carry a lot of stuff. (One more thing: We leave a significant fraction of our income at the West Marine store located at 1721 Gulf to Bay Blvd in Clearwater, FL. Like their other stores, this one isn’t what it used to be, but ask for Howard — he knows his stuff. Tell Howard that “that long-haired guy from Utah” sent you.)
  • Sailor’s Solutions (www.sailorssolutions.com): This relatively small company is well known for having unusual and unique products, designed and built by sailors who are solving their own problems…and realized that their solutions might help other sailors, too. They may be most famous for their LED cabin lighting.
  • Raymarine (www.raymarine.com): Almost all of our instrumentation came from Raymarine (or its predecessors Raytheon and Autohelm). Their equipment isn’t cheap, nor is it always absolute state-of-the-art. But it’s (generally) reliable and their documentation’s a lot better than most. We’re reasonably happy with their service, too. Your mileage may vary… (Raymarine is no longer an independent company, but has been purchased by Flir—the people who make those infrared and low-light cameras for marine use.)
  • Defender (www.defender.com): We order a fair amount of boat stuff from these folks. Their prices are sometimes a bit high, but more often they’re very reasonable, and their communication with their customers is top notch.
  • Genuinedealz (shop.genuinedealz.com): We found this store on eBay and were impressed with their outstanding prices on marine wire and cable. No, you wouldn’t go here for rigging or lifelines, but the variety of tinned marine electrical wiring is superb, their prices are the best we’ve found, and their shipping is very prompt.
  • Magazines
    • Cruising World (www.cruisingworld.com): One of several sailing magazines to which we subscribe. We like this one because of its regular features on maintenance, gear, and safety. We especially like Cap’n Fatty Goodlander’s regular columns and irregular articles.
    • Latitudes and Attitudes (www.seafaring.com): One of several sailing magazines to which we subscribe. Lats-n-Atts, as it’s popularly known, is unabashedly different than most sailing mags. It’s concerned less with editorial perfection and more with the human aspects of cruising. Sure, there are gear reviews and discussions on boat maintenance, but the focus is why cruisers do what they do and the fun they have. Publisher Bob Bichin is a large, heavily tattooed former outlaw biker (his own words) who hosts free cruisers parties at many boat shows and organizes “Share the Sail” cruises annually in different parts of the world.
    • Practical Sailor (www.practical-sailor.com): One of several sailing magazines to which we subscribe. The thing we like about Practical Sailor is that they do not accept advertising. As a result, there’s never any question about whether one of their product reviews has been, ummm, “colored” by the ad budget of its maker. These guys run long-term tests on paints (bottom and topside), actual in-water tests of crew-overboard gear, and comparisons of similar products from different manufacturers. And it’s all directed at making sure that their readers know what they’re buying and why. The 0nly problem, which is a direct consequence of their hard-and-fast no-advertising rule, is that their online back issues cost money. I can live with that.
  • JSI (www.newjsi.com): We used to use JSI as our sail loft, canvas repair shop, etc. But the economic downturn of 2008, et seq, took its toll and they closed their Clearwater store, laying of a lot of good people in the process. They’ve since reinvented themselves as a “superstore” with a mostly-web-based presence, partnering with Doyle Ploch as their sail loft. We still think they’re a reasonable place to shop for sail repair and related stuff, but they’re not what they once were.
  • Lee Chesneau’s Marine Weather (www.marineweatherbylee.com): We met Lee at the St. Petersburg boat show in 2008 and were instantly impressed with his encyclopedic knowledge of marine weather forecasting. His book (Heavy Weather Avoidance and Route Design at Amazon.com) isn’t a trivial read, but he’s the go-to guy for learning how to forecast your own weather.
  • SeaTech Systems (www.sea-tech.com): You can buy single-sideband radios, satellite phones, and other communications gear from a lot of places, but these guys got our business when we were in the market for a new SSB with all the fixin’s. They were friendly, helpful, patient, and had the best price we could find on the package we wanted, and we love their customer service. They’re associated with (“employ”, I think) Captain Marti Brown, the well-known author of the Idi-Yachts series of books.
  • Pathfinder Marine: John and Inge Sheerer don’t have a web site, don’t seem to answer email, and don’t take credit cards. And they live in Montréal, Québec, Canada. But they know Pathfinder marine engines better than anybody else on the planet, they stock spare parts and documentation, and they’ll stay on the phone with a customer who needs their help until the cows come home! If you have a Pathfinder in your Passport and you aren’t a member of their Pathfinder Club, you owe it to yourself to join. Call them at +1.514.695.6676 and tell them that Jim of Dream SeQueL sent you.

We’ll be augmenting this list as time goes by…and as we discover new and helpful vendors.

Lee Chesneau’s Marine Weather

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