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Boat Show Neat Stuff
Top Picks From The Latest Shows

by Tom Neale

     One of the best things about owning boats for 50 years is that I've had a lot of fun buying boat stuff. I own much more boat stuff now than I did in the good old days-not because I'm older and wealthier, but because my boats haven't been sinking as much lately.

      Even though my present Chez Nous is 6 inches down on her waterline, I still love to hang out at boat shows to check out the latest neat stuff. I recently took a trek through the IBEX show in Ft. Lauderdale and the Miami International Boat Show and found some items to lower her a few more inches.

Getting Back On Board
Losing someone overboard is perhaps one of the worst nightmares of couples (and everyone else) at sea. ACR has asystem to help. The person at risk wears the Mini B 300 EPIRB (ACR Product # 2766.6). If he goes over, he pushes a quick-release button, its antenna pops up and it begins sending signals.

These cause an oscillating warble on the Vecta 2 direction-finder (Product #2769.4) aboard ship, which can serve as an alarm. The person aboard uses this unit to home in on the person in the water. The kit includes a training video and an off-frequency learning beacon, which allows you to practice without violating FCC regulations. ACR: 800.4320.ACR. You’ll probably pay around $1,600.00 for the Vecta 2 and one Mini B.

     One of the best things about owning boats for 50 years is that I've had a lot of fun buying boat stuff. I own much more boat stuff now than I did in the good old days-not because I'm older and wealthier, but because my boats haven't been sinking as much lately.

     Even though my present Chez Nous is 6 inches down on her waterline, I still love to hang out at boat shows to check out the latest neat stuff. I recently took a trek through the IBEX show in Ft. Lauderdale and the Miami International Boat Show and found some items to lower her a few more inches.

  Hot Hulls
     The worst problem with getting a blister job is that you can pay a lot of money yet the yard and product manufacturers tell you they can't guarantee a thing unless your hull is "sufficiently dry." I've seen boats stored in low-humidity, climate-controlled sheds for more than a year while the infamous moisture meter still detected an apparent rainforest between the laminates.

     No more waiting for so long. As I was leaving IBEX, I saw an old friend, followed by a box that looked like R2D2, complete with hoses, nozzles, plugs and pads. I asked him what it was and he told me that it dries hulls. He explained that large pads are put against the prepared hull. Coils in the pads raise the temperature to 100 degree C of even heat to dry and vaporize the moisture within the laminate. At the same time, moisture, acids, glycols and other organic compounds are sucked into the pads, drawn in by a pump in the box. It can be used for solid glass and balsa cored hulls, and a 40-foot non-cored hull can be dried in about a week and a half; balsa coring can take longer. Labor cost is minimal, as once the pads are applied, yard workers let it alone, so long as they change pads when required.

     The importer estimates that drying costs should be about $50 a linear foot. Ask your yard if it has HotVac: 44.1394.282033.

Dinghy Anchor
     I've seen some pretty bizarre dinghy anchors, both in appearance and performance. Some seem to think a dinghy anchor doesn't have to perform like the main anchor, perhaps as a rationalization for the fact that most dinghies don't have a way to store a regular anchor and its gear.

     I disagree. There's nothing like jumping over to get a grouper and looking down to see some chunk of metal furrowing across the bottom as your tender sails away on the wind, just a bit faster than you can swim. There's nothing like standing at the end of a long furrow in the sand in which you set your cute dinghy anchor before your walk, and squinting out toward the horizon looking for your way home. And there's nothing like a jolly bouncing inflatable ride during which you hear that sudden "whoosh" as some pointed part of the anchor digs into a pontoon.

     Fortress has resolved these problems with its Commando package, which includes the tried-and-true Guardian G-5 anchor (2.5 lb.); 6 feet of 3/16-inch high-tensile galvanized chain; 150 feet of 3-inch braided nylon line; a 1/4-inch galvanized shackle and a tough bag to store it all. Fortress: 800.825.6289. Prices range from $81.95 to $104.99.

Pulling Out The Impeller
     Getting an impeller out of a raw water pump on the side of the engine has to be one of the most exasperating jobs on the boat. On most pumps one literally has to dig it out with screwdrivers, marring the faceplate lip in the process. There's seldom room for pliers and they seldom work anyway. Sherwood displaying a solution that made so much sense, I stood there thinking "Duh."

     Sherwood threaded the interior surface in the face of some of its impellers. Into that you simply screw a matching bolt with handle (patented, the brochure says). The bolt pushes against the shaft and pulls out the impeller. This requires little working space. Sherwood offers this with its 18000K, 22000K and 1700PK impeller kits, and is considering expanded to the rest of the line. For this feature alone, I'd buy an entire pump and go to the expense of a retrofit if my engine would take it.

Shut Down The Pump
     What do plastic bags, jellyfish and bodies have in common? They all can clog a raw-water intake and destroy a pump used for air conditioning, watermaking and other things. NOFLO by Groco is designed to shut down the pump if it detects the absence of water for more than 30 seconds.

Unlike other dry pump devices, NOFLO doesn't rely on the moving parts of a pressure switch, but rather by measuring conductivity in the water through what it describes as electrodes located in the sides of the tube. No protruding probes to frequently become fouled.

Groco: 410.712.4242. Suggested retail price $199.

No More Snake Nests
     When we dock I never can find the dock lines under the cruising stuff in the deck box, and when I do, I pick it up by the wrong coil, turning it into a Medusan mess. Now I've got a solution. Knight Corporation of Toronto has an impressive looking stainless retractable dock-line storage assembly.

     It's probably best installed when a boat is built, but it can be added later. When you dock you push a lever, pull the line out of a deck plate in the gunwale and lock it at any length desired by releasing the lever. When taking off, you release the lever and it coils up neatly below. It's easy to change the lines on the drum, and is available for boats up to 100 feet. Knight Corp: 416.503.3833. Price varies with specifications.

Sorting Out The Power
Yacht owners traveling to other parts of the world must be concerned constantly with plugging into power that is reliable and appropriate for their systems. This is important today with the proliferation of sophisticated electronics aboard.

     Xantrex says its shorepower converter enables boaters to plug into almost any type of shorepower found around the world, shut down the generator and achieve a seamless conversion. This is important when one considers what slight hiccups in power can do to computers and chips. This converter also warns if something is wrong, and measures incoming power so one can verify "metered" billings.

     Xantrex has been in the power-electronics industry for about 20 years: 604.422.8595.

Pumped Up
     I remember studying in high school about the "inhospitable environments" of other planets, such as Jupiter and Mars.Little did I know then that the word "inhospitable" would take on a new meaning later in life, when applied to my bilge.

     I don't know what things live down there and I don't want to know. But I do know that my bilge pump must survive among them.

     Shurflo has a series of new bilge pumps, which it apparently named for my bilge specifically: The Piranha Series. The body is made of high-density nylon, not plastic, and the base can be screwed down and swivel so the heavy-duty motor and pump core can be turned to mate easily with existing hoses. The core snaps into the base for easy removal. The company also makes a solid-state switch (not mercury) that attaches to the pump, with a two-second time delay so it won't come on from slight rolling. Each component comes with 6 feet of marine-grade tinned double-insulated wire, so you can make connections in a friendly environment. Shurflo: 800.854.3218. Pumps range from $15.99 to 32.99. Switches are $29.99.

Night Time Is Show Time
     If you've ever wondered what was lurking in those dark waters under your hull at night, we've found an answer. A fiber optic cable runs from a light box containing a 12-volt 50-watt halogen bulb to a through-hull fitting. The fitting allows one to install and remove the cable without hauling the boat (like a traditional depthfinder transducer).

     When it's time to change the bulb, it's a simple task. Mounting location is up to you, but most would place it at the stern, so your crew can hang out in the cockpit and see a really great show-or go fishing.

     Kara Underwater Lighting of Italy is imported by Imtra. Check out: MSRP is $1,305, complete.

     I've got at least two dozen aboard my 53-foot boat, most hidden from my wife who thinks enough is enough. But two more never hurt, especially when you need a light to find where you hid your older ones. I beamed in on Golight's handheld spotlight called the Profiler. Its flyer included pictures of policemen and fire fighters using it (and we all like to use what they use). But what attracted my attention was that the guy at the booth seemed reluctant to let me turn it on by myself.

   After I assured him I wouldn't point it at anyone, he handed it over. I aimed at the ceiling on the opposite side of the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center, about 800 feet away. The center's floodlights were on. Nevertheless, the Profiler cast a beam of light, without any dark spots, all the way across the huge hall!

     The company says it has 1.3 million candlepower and the company says it will last 30 minutes in continuous high-beam mode, casting a spot up to a half-mile away. The nickel metal-hydride modular battery pack is rechargeable in two hours. (The charge will last much longer at lower power with a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb for close work, and you can also plug it into the ship's 12VDC power.

     I've seen a lot of handheld spots with claims of huge candlepower. I've even bought a few, but have had my share of disappointments-were they talking about one candle at a time?

     So I took the Profiler and some of my other spots up on deck and had a quick test on a far shore. I discovered two things: The Profiler is my best handheld spot, and it's amazing what people do ashore at night when they think no one's watching. The company also makes a new LED floodlight called the Epoch 4, with four very bright white LEDs, capable of 110,000-hour life with lithium batteries providing 25 hours of continuous use. It's great for lighting up work areas, and you don't have to worry about running down the battery in a few hours.

     Now all I need is to find another hiding space for two more lights. Golight: 800.557.0098. Prices range from $35 to $179.

Light Up Those Mature Yachts
     I own a properly aged yacht, and I've noticed that interior lighting has come a long way since the dark ages when Chez Nous was built. But I get the impression that I'd almost be better off buying another boat by the time I buy all new light fixtures. So I was happy to see some halogen adapters by ABI that simply screw or plug into old fixtures.

     You then can use those new high-tech bulbs that provide more light for less power. ABI: 800.422.1301. About $4.99 each.

Vicious Circle Canned
     Everybody knows you oil tools, so they get slippery, so you drop them over, so you have to oil them again. Is there a conspiracy here?

     Well, CRC is on our side. I discovered a new spray can called Tool Guard anti-corrosion tool protector. This oil formula is said to be better at repelling dirt, oil and moisture and penetrating (as in a socket wrench). It leaves a dry hard film that isn't oily or slippery. CRC also has a new marine electronics grease that is non-conductive and keeps moisture out of connections. CRC: 800.872.8963. Priced at about $4.

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