Over the week, Lauren B. and I attended 7 seminars. The most useful ones for me were Getting the Most From Marine Radar by Kevin Monahan and South Pacific Cruising by John Neal and Amanda Swan Neal. Lauren B. already knew most of what was talked about in the marine radar talk, and I learned several useful tips for adjusting brilliance, gain, and sea clutter so that we can get the most accurate picture of objects. Monahan spoke briefly about the newer broadband radar technology and the pros and cons.
The latter seminar by John and Amanda (pictured to the right) was very enjoyable for me especially since they gave tips that Lauren B and I will be able to use on our own trip, such as where we can put the boat on land in New Zealand (Amanda is a rigger from New Zealand), good places to provision in the South Pacific islands, islands that are the least travelled, and to make sure we bring enough spices!
We had many hours to walk the floor and were most interested in broadband radar, watermakers and a new anchor. We chatted with reps about the Lowrance and Simrad brands and which would make sense for us. I’m not sure if this will be a thing that we will upgrade or not…the jury is out. The definition is much clearer in HD compared to the old school radar especially at close range and we’ll want to talk to other boatowners who have used it offshore to see how it measures up for longer range detection.
Most of the watermakers we saw at the show were either too big for our space, or used too much energy so we didn’t have much luck in that department.
An unexpected acquisition was a Spot satellite messenger. These little devices use satellite to transmit your position. It can update your coordinates to Google Maps so others can follow you and it can send coordinates to emergency services and family.
Previously it’s coverage didn’t go past Central America, but Lauren B and I were surprised to find out it’s coverage now extends all the way down to New Zealand and Australia, though there is a huge whole over the South Pacific where we do intend to spend some significant time.
Did I mention the price? They are normally $120+, but we got it for $29.99 due to the boat show special and a $50 rebate that is still available thru 3/31/10 here. You still have to pay a service fee of $150 a year if you want to use it with the online tracking. We do also have a more traditional 406 Mhz GPS equipped EPIRB for true emergencies though. The Spot is nice for tracking, but it is not nearly as full featured as an EPIRB for getting help if something serious happens, but if there is service, it is a nice backup.