Expensive Blocks: My Garhauer stuff has performed as well if not better than my Harken stuff yet at 1/3 or less the price.
To each his own, and I certainly respect your (much more experienced) opinion, but Harken has served us well and Harken's customer service has gone above and beyond the call of duty to take care of us. I am a Harken customer for life.
Marine Foul Weather Gear: Over priced, less breathable and fits like an uncomfortable firemans suit. Never wear it and it collects dust.
You know, that's what I thought I'd experience with the stuff. Well, I ended-up with a pair of West Marine Coastal Explorer foul weather bibs for the sale price for their less-expensive Third Reef bibs. I've worn them twice. The first time was a day where we sailed in weather that started out chilly, the wind was stiff (30 kts, gusting to 35) and we were racing. Needless to say: There was water, water, everywhere
. By the time we finished tying-up at the slip: The temps were warm, the wind was way down and the sun was out. Those bibs were comfortable, in all respects, throughout. I was quite
surprised. I expected them to be bulky, uncomfortable and sweaty. They've been none of those.
Martec Folding Prop: Yep sailed a little faster but vibrated like a jack hammer, even after three factory services, and could not push me into a head wind or current which we have a lot of up here.
Ours developed the "Martec blues," as you call it, in our 2nd season of ownership. We sent it off for a rebuild and put it back on the boat. It's back to working as well as it did before it went all kittywampus. I'll tell you this: Racing with the fixed prop in its place: The 12 seconds we got on our PHRF rating didn't come close to making up for the performance hit we took.
Expensive Harken or Lewmar Winch Handles: Got a box full of them collecting dust. Much prefer my floating, non deck denting, non tow busting plastic ones that sell for half the price.
Got a pair of Lewmar One Touch winch handles. Love 'em. An improvement would be the One Touch system's inventor's winch handles (Lewmar licensed the technology from him), which are composite and, I believe, float. (About $20 apiece more expensive, I believe.)