“Hey, Captain Gary. You goin’ to the boat show this year?”
“Sure. Uhhh, which one are you talkin’ about?”
Boat show season is soon upon us and even though it’ll last into March next year, it’s time to start preparing. What prepare? Don’t you just, uh, go to the show and, er, walk around aimlessly looking at cool boats and stuff?
Well, yes, it certainly seems that’s what a lot of people do, but they’re not getting the most out of show doing it that way. Like everything in life, it’s better — well, most of the time — if you have a plan of action, even if it’s only in your head.
Of course, all this is easier nowadays with your cell phone’s capabilities, but some pre-looking around on your desktop can make things a lot more profitable and save wear and tear on — well, your fingertips.
This should be your plan: first, decide what you want to get out of show. If you’re in the market for a boat, this is the place where the best deals are usually found, but only if you’ve done your homework prior. Know what questions to ask, what to look for, what your bank account can take, etc. If you’re not single, consider the opinion of your distaff side and the kids. Believe me. I’ve been hearing, “See, that’s the kind of boat we should have gotten,” for going on five years now. If you want to get more use out of your boat, you gotta’ make the family happy, too.
If you’re at the show for equipment, you’ll find plenty of it, naturally. There can be good deals made on some items, while others may be at their bottom price point. Again, homework — in the form of knowing what the usual MSRP and/or Internet price is — will make the deal sweeter for you. That said … following are some goodies to keep a look out for.
STUFF to LOOK FOR
LED is the way to go if you’re thinking of updating any of your lighting. Hella Marine, Accon, Perko, TecNiq and Davis are all well-known marine brands that offer a wide variety of lights for interiors, exteriors and decks, underwater and more. And colors? LEDs are available in a rainbow’s worth. The primary reason for switching, however, is simple. LEDs draw a light less amperage than traditional bulbs.
With winterizing soon to rear its ugly head, take a look at battery maintenance chargers. I keep my batteries on PulseTech Xtreme chargers. You may consider this anecdotal evidence, but I have a house battery on my boat that is at least six years old and still holding a charge — and it spends the off season on a PulseTech maintenance charger. This past season, it read dead half-way through the winter. I checked the cells (the electrolyte was low … it’s an, obviously, older battery in which you can still add distilled water), I topped it off, and it took a charge and held it, and did its job all season long. So, I’m sold on maintenance chargers. A good on-line source for a wide variety of chargers, maintenance, onboard, etc., is www.batterystuff.com
Another upgrade to look at for your electrical system is on the dock hookup side. SmartPlug System’s new SmartPlug (creative, eh?). Unlike twist-style plugs it’s said to deliver 20 times more metal-to-metal contact, has spring loaded locking clips, an LED power light, and triple sealing. You’ll be seeing these on newer boats as the years pass. Checkout www.smartplug.com.
Through-hull valves due for replacement this winter? Look for TruDesign valves. Good for above and below the waterline, these ball valve bodies are made of a glass-reinforced nylon (the ball and seal are a PTFE polymer). The handles are brightly colored and the valve position is easily found by marks on the body and valve. Raritan Engineering (raritaneng.com) of New Jersey imports these from New Zealand.
If you’re thinking of repowering — and have a reeeeeal lot of money — why not purchase one of Seven Marine’s outboards? The 376-cubic inch, V-8 pumps out 557 horsepower (there’s a 627-horse version too!) and weigh in at just shy of 1100 pounds on your transom. Hey, a pair of Yamaha 300s weigh almost the same! Of course, the two Yammies will only set you back about $40 Gs, whereas the Seven starts around $70Gs … but, hey, why not? Anyway, Volvo Penta just bought Seven Marine a few months ago, so look for some interesting pairings coming about.
Long as I’m on outboards. I don’t know if you’ve seen the newer Evinrudes, but I think they’re very good-looking engines. That said, Evinrude introduced its iDock “Evinrude Intelligent Piloting System” over the summer. It’s Ev’s joystick docking system. It’s only available on boats with twin E-TEC G2s (for now), but check it out. It’s the latest in joystick maneuvering.
For those of you into SOT fishing, check out Hobie’s new Fold and Stow cart. It weighs in at just over five pounds and is designed to break down to stow inside Hobie kayaks equipped with a large front cargo hatch. It’s load-rated for 175 pounds … and costs about that much.
On the safety front, there’s a new throwable personal floation device that’s the first one to be Coast Guard approved. Called the ThrowRaft, it CO2 charged, can be inflated manually with a pull tab, or by submerging it. It’s meets recreational regs for a throwable. Look for it.
In the electronic navigation category, the NMEA (National Marine Electronics Association) Conference and Expo will be held in Bellevue, Washington in late September, so we’ll see what’s new to come out of there insofar as electronics are concerned. Meanwhile …
In May, Long Island-based Si-Tex introduced its new NavStar Series Multifunction Displays for 2017— the 10-inch display NavStar 10 and the 12-inch NavStar 12. They combine advanced radar, sonar, chartplotting and entertainment functions. Shakepeares WebWatch antenna is an all-in-one Wi-Fi hotspot, cellular data and high-definition television (HDTV) antenna. Siren Marine announced in June that it started shipping its breakthrough MTC (Monitor/Track/Control) boat monitoring and tracking system to distributors, retailers and boaters in North America. With the system boaters can monitor their battery voltage, track their boat’s location, control onboard devices, and much more.
See you at the shows.