THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ OUR DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.
If I’m being truly honest with myself, the real reason I wanted to go to Miami was to talk to vendors. It was great to get on the Helia again and go for a test sail, but we were already quite committed to buying a Helia and unless the boat just started falling apart on the test sail (it didn’t) we weren’t going to be changing our minds. That left us with the opportunity to try and make, or at least come closer to making, some decisions on equipment for the boat.
In the almost 5 months since the Annapolis Boat Show, Amy and I have learned a lot about the Helia and the different systems and equipment on board. We’ve been very fortunate to chat with several other Helia owners, as well as other cruisers, and get some hints and ideas on things that would be helpful for us to look at. Therefore, we had a pretty good (read very extensive) list of different vendors we wanted to talk with. Even with three days at the show, we found that it was still tough to fit in all the seminars and visit with vendors, but we both feel good about what we got accomplished. Here are some of the highlights:
Mantus is fairly new to the anchor scene, but they are headquartered about 10 minutes away from where we live and I had watched lots of their test videos which were made on our home sailing waters. At the show, we got the chance to meet Greg, the owner, and learn some more about the design of his anchor. We were already pretty set that a Mantus anchor was the way we wanted to go, and came away even more convinced. Now, we’re just trying to figure out exactly which size anchor will fit on the Helia.
Cruise RO Watermakers
I had found Cruise RO on the web quite a while ago and was intrigued by what they had to offer. This system is set up to run off a generator, but offers a high level of output, using non-proprietary parts at a very competitive cost. Rich, the owner, was great in taking time to walk us through to components on display and show us how the system works. Its definitely a manual operation as compared to some of the other options out there, but it seems pretty simple and straight forward. Fountaine Pajot offers both a 12V and a 220V option for watermakers from the factory, so we’re still debating installation through factory vs another option, but Cruise RO was one watermaker that stood out.
Gill Foul Weather Gear
We spent a lot of time at the show checking out foul weather gear. We’ll be crossing the Atlantic in November/December and being prepared means a good set of foulies is a must. We were fortunate to meet Matt at one of the Gill booths at the show, and after telling him our plans for our boat, he pointed us straight to the gear we needed. Amy and I both liked the fit and the look of jackets (the hand warmer pockets were a nice touch) and the boat show pricing was tough to beat. We went ahead and bought OS1 Jackets for each us us and trousers to match. That should form a good base to start with, and now we can continue working on finding the additional layers needed. Its starting to get warm in Texas, but we’ll see if we can find an opportunity to test out the new gear soon.
We sort of ran into this company by accident as they were across the aisle from Cruise RO. Dedicated Marine specializes in custom bimini hardtops for Lagoon and Leopard cats that match the style and contours of the boat. They didn’t have anything mentioning Fountaine Pajot, but we figured we’d ask anyways and sure enough, they are currently in the process of building a hardtop for a Helia located in Miami. We’re following this one quite closely, as having a bimini over the helm is a must, and having a hardtop would allow us some additional options with regards to solar panels etc.
As I’ve said almost from the beginning of this blog, I’m a big fan of Furuno. I like the level of integration across all systems they provide and the MaxSea software still seems like the best out there. However… after almost 5 months of asking, I had yet to hear anything back from Fountaine Pajot on how much a Furuno system would cost, or even if they would be willing to install one. I had however, gotten confirmation that a Raymarine system had already been successfully fitted on the boat, and they would have no problem going that route instead.
So, Amy and I went to talk to Raymarine and even in the last few months, they’ve put out some new technology that is getting closer to leveling the playing field. I’ll go into more depth on everything in another post, but with the new stuff Raymarine has done, and feeling there are more important issues where we’d like to push to have something done our way, we’re happy to have made the decision to go with Raymarine on Starry Horizons.
We also talked to a lot of other vendors, especially various sailmakers to try and work out the best options for some additional sails for us. Wading through the different types of sails can be tricky, and while we’re narrowing in on things, no decisions have been made yet. Miami was definitely a worthwhile trip, and we feel great about the decisions we made and narrowing down our lists in other areas. Now it’s back to more research and trying to hammer out some of the remaining details to make sure we’re ready to bring Starry Horizons across the Atlantic!