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Basics for gift-giving season

As I’m going more retro with my boating, I seem to have less use for gadgets than for basics.

In honor of the traditional gift-giving season, I want to share three items that stood out from the gear reviewed in this space.

Even a fashion dork like me must admit that a fine foulie jacket is key to a sailor’s gear portfolio. By “fine” I mean weatherproof, breathable, comfortable, stashable and versatile, i.e. it won’t make me look like a troll when worn out of context. All that sounds mutually exclusive, but Atlantis Weathergear solved this puzzle by incorporating user input into the Microburst jacket. It’s the workhorse of my wardrobe, because it does so many things so well. It supports my active lifestyle, which is focused on — but not limited to — boats. Its nylon shell is water- and windproof, light, compact and breathable. It has adjustable waist draw cords for proper fit and pit zips to keep cool while riding a bike or trimming the main. A microfleece-lined collar makes it comfortable to wear and the mesh-lined pockets swallow sundry items, including phone, wallet and bulky remote entry car keys. The Microburst is available in a variety of colors, with or without hood, and retails for $135. Atlantis WeatherGear, Marblehead, Mass. Phone (877) 333-7245.

Atlantis WeatherGear Microburst jacket

My last pair of little-used boat shoes developed unfixable holes at both heels. A classic case of planned obsolescence, the cobbler lady said. They were demoted to garage loafers and replaced by Sebago’s Admiral Lace boat shoes, which I now wear on special occasions or when I’m fishing for compliments. They combine style, comfort and functionality while they are surprisingly light. On a heeling boat, I found the Admiral to provide good footing with support for heel and forefoot, and gripping deck surfaces with its slip-resistant Vibram sole. Sebago has endowed the Admiral with rawhide laces and corrosion-resistant eyelets, while the Admiral Moc provides the slick looks and slip-on comfort that’s typical for moccasins. Both models are available in dark brown and retail for $155. Sebago Rockford, Mich. Phone (866) 699-7367;

Sebago's Admiral Lace Boat Shoes

A sailor’s arsenal should include sunscreen that prevents skin degradation from UV radiation and — get used to it — won’t harm the environment when it gets into the water. MelanSol natural sunscreen is scientifically formulated to help protect against free radicals (oxidants) that are caused by UV rays and are responsible for long-term skin damage. It uses mineral pigments (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) instead of chemical filters for skin protection, and contains anti-oxidants like date fruit and green tea leaf extract, and natural Vitamin E, which extends the body’s natural ability to absorb UV light. Devoid of chemicals that can adversely affect coral reefs, wetlands and wildlife, MelanSol is gentle on the environment, has a pleasant smell and goes on easily. It claimed sunscreen honors in my house. That’s worth remembering, because the retail price of a 6-ounce bottle starts at $18.95. Oceana Natural, Panama City Beach, Fla. Phone (866) 242-3776.

MelanSol Natural Sunscreen

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue.