Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Big Decisions at the Big Seattle Boatshow

Boat show booty!
Virginia and I made major steps toward getting Oceanus ready for blue-water cruising last Friday and we didn't even set foot on the boat. We attended the Seattle Boat Show and finalized several gear choices.

One nice thing about going to the show is that our tickets were free because I wrote an article about our Columbia 43 for Three Sheets Northwest and they gave us a pair of tickets. When Oceanus is featured in the on-line magazine I'll provide a link on the blog.

Here is our report.

Oceanus has no electronics at all so everything will be new. Like all electronics, marine radios, chartplotters, and electronic navigation equipment changes rapidly. All of it seems expensive. My big fear was to spend a ton of money on electronics and have it be outdated or even obsolete soon after we leave the dock. So I've put off making any decisions about which equipment to buy hoping something would come along that would make sense and not break the bank. I think I've found it.


We bought a DMK 11A, a wireless gateway with GPS to be the heart of our electronic instrument setup. It creates an wireless network that streams data from your boat instruments and a GPS signal to up to three devices (like an iPad or iPhone) simultaneously.

The simplicity of the DMK booth attracted me immediately. On a small table a wind instrument, a depth sounder and a speed log were hooked up to a box about the size of a deck of cards. Next to it was an iPad displaying the data. Behind that was Kevin Dolan eating a banana. Since there's nothing I enjoy more than interrupting someone who's eating, I went up and started asking him questions. I liked his answers and we bought an 11A with GPS, at a special boat-show price, of course. You can tell that he's tuned-in to cheap sailboaters; he bought the iPad he was using at the show on Craigslist for $200.

On his recommendation, we went to the J&G Marine Supply booth across from him and bought a Standard Horizon VHF Marine Transceiver with AIS (GX2150). It was also a screamin' boat-show deal. I found this video about it.

Now I just need to buy a smart depth transducer and a wifi-enabled iPad, add iNavX software and we're set. A single sideband shortwave radio is also a must have. It would be nice to have wind instruments and radar too, but we'll see.

Virginia is in charge of deciding on a watermaker. After much research, she chose the Cruise RO Water watermaker. It was the first booth we visited. Visiting with Tom Brown of La Paz Cruisers Supply and Richard Boren, cruiser and president of Cruise RO Water, was a highlight of the show. Not only did they answer all of our questions about the water maker, but Tom also regaled us with great stories about cruising the Sea of Cortez. Tom painted vivid pictures of days spent snorkeling, spear fishing and dolphin watching while anchored in sheltered bays. He even got out the Sea of Cortez Cruising Guide and pointed out several not-to-be-missed anchorages with great snorkeling and diving.

We went to two seminars while at the show:

  • The first was Preparations for Extended Coastal and Offshore Cruising given by Liza Copeland. A lot of information given as fast as possible in one hour. (She said she usually takes three hours to give the presentation.) We were able to glean some good tips. We were so impressed with Liza Copeland that we found her later and bought two of her books, Cruising for Cowards and Just Cruising.
  • The other seminar was Sail Trim for Cruisers by Carol Hasse of Port Townsend Sails. Carol is a delightful person and one of the most knowledgeable sailmakers around. She learned her craft from the venerable Franz Schattauer, who was a Seattle institution for many years. Both of my previous big sailboats -- Lobo, a 27-foot Pearson Renegade, and Freyja, a 22-foot Alden-designed sloop -- had Schattauer sails. They were excellent sails.

We visited Carol Hasse at the Port Townsend Rigging booth later that evening. Lisa Vizzini of Port Townsend Riggers showed us how to rig lazy jacks so they are functional and yet can be easily stowed against the mast and not interfere with putting on a sail cover. I also liked her suggestions for rigging a preventer on the boom.

One of our goals at the show was to make a decision on which composting head to buy. We looked at both the Nature's Head and Air Head to compare the two. Before the show we were leaning toward the Nature's Head, but after seeing the Air Head we changed our mind. The build quality of the Air Head looks superior to us as does the design. It's a little more money but I think it's worth it.

We think the Air Head is a winner. 

More must-have items are:
A Hydrovane on the stern of Distant Dreamer, a Columbia 43. Formerly known as Encore, she won the Trans-Pac Class B in 1973. 

We bought each other presents for our 37th wedding anniversary: a monocular with a built-in compass for me and more plastic storage containers for Virginia.

If you have comments about our choices please let us know. Aside from the items we've already purchased, we reserve the right to change our mind.