Help me spend some money

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Jul 30, 2009
Vessel Name
Skinny Dippin'
Vessel Make
Navigator 4200 Classic
I got a $300 gift certificate for xmas and want to ask some advice on my options for spending it. It's a little more of a light-hearted topic, but thought it would be fun to get you guy's take on my dilemma. I am not opposed to adding more money into the pot to get what I need. The answer could be a combination of items too.

Here are my ideas:

Emergency boarding ladder - This goes with the topic a few months back about what could my wife do if I fell overboard. While it won't solve the problem, it would be a nice thing to have if we are swimming and the dinghy is clipped to the swim platform. Storage might be the negative. (~$150)

Fish finder - Again, another topic we discussed (maybe that was at BoaterEd). We currently only have a depth sounder that displays just a number and I'd like to see a graphic representation of the bottom while cruising the ICW. ($80-$180)

Life Jackets - The current crop of life vests onboard isn't that great. In fact, it kind of sucks. It meets USCG regs, but none of them really fit us very well. The one that does is in rather poor shape. We looked at the air-powered ones, but don't really like them very much. So the plan is to, at the very least, get a few Type II devices that fit real people. (~$150 for 2)

Fenders - We currently have three for a 35' trawler and all three are different sizes. It would be nice to have 4 or 6 that all match and are of equal size. (~$250)

Fender holders - The kind that store them on the railings. (~$250)

Handheld VHF - Lots of uses. Were going to use for dinghy comm and as a backup on the flybridge. (the second VHF is at the lower helm)

Magma grill parts - Hardly worth mentioning, but we need about $80 in parts for it.

- Certainly we cannot afford a Magnum or Charles true wave inverter, but TBH, I don't see us needing one right now. A simple X Freedom 1800 will do what we need for the moment. Besides, we don't really have the battery power to have one much larger. It would also be our backup charger. (~$500)

Binoculars - The admiral needs a pair for herself. Mine are very nice Minolta 10x70, but the high 10x power rating is a bit unstable for boating in rough seas. But the optics are so nice, I'd like to get some 7x50 that can hold their own against them. Not the cheap crap. However, I don't think WM carries "good" binocs. (~$200)

Knife - What we have now would hardy cut hot butter. Was looking to get a good utility diving knife. Once again, I'm unsure if WM is the place to buy this. Perhaps a dive shop might be a better idea. ($100)

Let me hear your ideas. Maybe there is something I missed that would be good to add to the list. I'm open to all suggestions. Looking forward to your input!

Telescopic boarding ladder off of the swim platform. WM has some good ones. No way I could get back on my boat without one.
Hi Ya'll!!* Bess here...First Mate of Skinny Dippin!* I'm looking forward to some ideas on shopping!* (then we'll do the sensible thing and get lifejackets that we'll wear)

We have a telescoping swim platform ladder.....we're thinking of a secondary rope-type ladder to use from the port or starboard companion way.* for, perhaps we're anchored and new friends come visiting on their dink...and our dink is on the swimplatform.*

Is it Spring yet?
I would focus on your safety gear.* Make sure the vests are comfortable and that you'll wear em.
When it comes to safety vests, when we bought the boat we bought a pair of Suspenders manual/auto inflatable vests. The best things about these is that once you put them on you forget you have them on and will wear them all day. They do not interfere with movement, they are not heavy or bulky. We have recently upgraded to a pair of Mustangs, which have a much better auto-inflate mechanism and other advantages, but we've kept the Sospenders for guest use.

We also cary some Type I vests on the boat that are strapped to our Ditch Bag but trying to actually do anything while wearing a Type I or II vest is pretty difficult. And a vest you're not wearing is like the runway behind you on takeoff--- it's of no value whatsoever.

We are not into fender holders or little dresses for fenders--- up here fancy fenders are rendered un-fancy in short order against the rough-hewn bullrails and otherwise fairly crude docks we're often up against. But one thing we did get that has proved to be extremely valuable are a pair of oversize fenders, Big Berthas if you will, the size you'd use for a 60 or 70 foot boat. They are very expensive if purchased new, but we got ours at a marine exchange store for a fraction of the new price.

One of these big fenders is on a long line to make it easy to hold it between the bow and the dock when we have to power the stern off against the wind so we can back clear of a boat immediately behind us. We do this against a bow line to the dock held by my wife or me, and you need to put something between the bow and dock itself. A great big fender is perfect for this.* We got the idea from our friend Carey who has one on his boat and we observed how useful it is.

We sometimes raft to friends' boats on a cruise and the hulls rarely match up, particularly the sailboats, so the two big fenders are perfect for that.* Particularly if you're rafting in waters that can be subject to waves or wakes.* Storage is an issue but we are not much for show-room looking boats so we generally simply keep the oversize fenders on the aft deck or we can put them up on the flying bridge out of the way. But they have proved to be among the best practical items we've ever put on the boat.

Size-wise, looking at our avatar photo if we tie one outside the main cabin door so that the top of the fender is at* the rub rail that runs the length of the boat the bottom of the fender touches the water and they are between two and three times the diameter of the "regular" fenders on the boat.

-- Edited by Marin on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 12:12:45 PM
Get you one of those chrome plated credisfram to hook on to the Chummy gigger on the back of the boat. Or maybe a new Johnson rod. Man the list goes on and on.


Are you talking about "cylindrical" fenders or "ball" shapes? Interesting concept for powering the stern off the dock. I can see myself using this in the near future. Having a blue hull, it doesn't take much to screw it up.

-- Edited by SeaHorse II on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 04:45:17 PM
Here's the thing about the vests. (and please don't let this hijack the thread) While I understand the safety aspects of wearing a flotation device at all times. The fact is that I won't... and neither do the majority of you. I tried on the less expensive inflatables and I felt like Chris Farley when he was pretending to be a flight attendant. The nicer ones fit better, but TBH, I have no desire to spend over $200 or $300 at this point for one. Especially since I am a strong swimmer and we have no plans to be out of sight of land in the foreseeable future. That said, I feel it is imperative to at least have a Type II or Type III that DOES fit properly when things are shaky or if an emergency is pending. One thing we DO practice (the First Mate is adamant about it) is putting our life jacket out on the seats of the flybridge when we are underway. So it's not like we have to dig through compartments and under a pile of lines to get to them.

That's just my opinion.

I'm currently thinking we should get the life jackets, a knife, and fenders. Anything left may get us the HH VHF radio or the grill parts. I'm still on the fence though. I feel like I want to get something FUN with xmas money and not something boring.
GonzoF1 wrote:

Especially since I am a strong swimmer and we have no plans to be out of sight of land in the foreseeable future.
There are a lot of very dead people up here who thought as you do.* When we took the USCG Aux boating course a number of years ago, the class on hypothermia and what to do about it was taught by the leading expert on hypothermia at the University of Washington Medical Center.* He said that if you go in the water up here you have about 15 to 30 minutes to live depending on your body mass and, to a degree, your clothing. And this is if you assume a still position in the water designed to preserve body heat as much as possible. He said that the surest way to die is to strike out for the beach even if it looks "just over there."* Swimming strips away body heat at an amazing rate and hypothermia will set in within minutes.

After that class, we do not go out on deck, or operate our smaller fishing boat at all, without our life vests on.* Trying to swim to shore has lead to far more deaths, he said, than staying still.

Now this is for up here.* In the waters of Florida, the Gulf, etc., it's a different deal although even in these waters I understand that hypothermia can still be a threat.* It just takes longer to set in.

Walt---* We do not use the ball fenders as they take up too much room on the boat.* So our oversize (for our boat) fenders are more or less conventionally shaped.* They're just real big.

The technique of powering out the stern while holding the bow against the dock until a sufficient angle is achieved to allow the boat to be backed smartly away from the dock is one that I have read about many times in many places.* It's certainly*not anything we came up with.* On most boats up here, the dock lines are "permanently" secured to the boat's cleats and the bitter ends are taken ashore to be cleated off or more often tied around a bull rail.* If we have to depart a dock with a wind* blowing us onto it and boats immediately in front of and behind us, the only way to do it is to power the stern out first.* And I mean WAY out.* Just clearing the boat behind won't do it because as you back out the wind will simply blow you up against the other boat.** This beomes particularly uncontrollable on a boat like ours where the center of pressure in a crosswind is considerably ahead of the center of yaw.**So we have learned that you power the stern out until you think it's out far enough and then power it out the same amount farther

To depart* the bow line is untied from the bullrail and then passed under or over it and back to the boat.* Or if there is a cleat, then then the line is uncleated, passed*around the backside of the cleat and up to the bow.* Whichever one of us is handling the line takes the bitter end and pulls out all the slack while holding*one of the big fenders down between the bow and the dock in the spot where the bow wil contact the dock when it swings in against the bow line.

The other person unfastens the rest of the lines and tosses them onto the deck.* He/she then puts the dockside prop in reverse, the outside prop in forward, and the rudder hard over toward the dock.** Then as much power is applied as needed with the prop that is in forward.* This plus the prop walk from both props moves the stern out while the line held by the handler on the bow keeps the boat from going anywhere.* The fender keeps the hull off the dock.

With a single-engine boat you simply put the prop in forward and use the thrust against the hard-over rudder to power the stern out.* The bow line keeps the boat from moving forward same as with a twin.

When the stern is out far enough the line handler releases the bitter end and pulls the bow line back around the bullrail or cleat*and back to the boat as the boat is put into reverse on both props and enough power added to move the boat out fast into open water*before the wind starts blowing it back in again.* While we've never had to use it, the person handling the bow line has a serrated knife handy in case the line hangs up on the bullrail or cleat because once you start this maneuver it can be difficult or impossible*to retrace your steps back to the dock if the wind is strong and the clearance between boats is minimial and you will not have time to stop and think about the situation.

This technique*is the only way to get off a*dock you're being blown onto unless you have a bow or stern thruster.* But we use this technique to get away from a dock when we're between two boat in every circumstance, wind or no wind.* We also use it to get away from a dock when there is a boat in front of us but no boat behind us.* The one thing we never do is leave a dock by pushing the bow out unless there is no boat in front of us for at least four or five boat lengths and often more than that depending on the wind and current.* Moving the stern out gives the best control and the least chance of hitting something, at least in my opinon.

-- Edited by Marin on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 07:57:52 PM

I have two Magma grills. One charcoal and one gas. They are complete but the gas one will need some ceramic bricks, $25.00 each plus shipping.

My wife*got me Binocs for Christmas. She said go research them and tell me what to get. Did I marry right or what? My self imposed limit was $250. Searching the blogs and trying different models myself brought me to the NIkon 7X50 CF WP and a similar West Marine model. I suspect Nikon makes the West Marine product. West Marine was $200. and Nikon*$247. at Defender. I chose Nikon due to the 25 year warrenty.

I sorta knew this would happen
You're in the PNW... far more dangerous water than we are in. Although, it's all dangerous in a way. The fact is that the majority of where I am currently boating - the Neuse River - if something catastrophic happens and our boat gets an eight-foot hole in it and sinks... four feet or more of our boat will still be sticking out of the water. If not, it's literally about a 50 feet swim to get to 4 feet depths.
Anyway, we aren't here to discuss my decision to wear or not wear a PFD.

On the other hand, we do the power-out procedure with our single screw too, but with a spring line to our bow cleat.

-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 09:20:54 PM

-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Tuesday 12th of January 2010 09:22:12 PM
Here's a different idea - a full duplex VOX intercom headset. Eartec makes a 2.4 Ghz model. Great for the Admiral - no more SHOUTING (I'm not shouting) when docking. Lightweight headset, you can both talk and listen at normal conversational levels.

I have no interest in the company (for full disclosure), just like the product and great customer service.
Given your list, my first choice would be the reboarding ladder.
Here it is mandatory, as safety gear, in order to get your CCGA Courtesy Examination sticker.
Where you are, it would simply make good sense and enhance your swimming experience.
GonzoF1 wrote:

*if something catastrophic happens and our boat gets an eight-foot hole in it and sinks... four feet or more of our boat will still be sticking out of the water.
Yes, the advantages of sinking in shallow water are many.* Of the eight battleships in Pearl Harbor in 1941, six were refloated, rebuilt, and saw service in the war.* The ship on the left in this photo (West Virginia)*is sitting*solidly on the bottom.**It and the one next to it (Tennessee)*lived to fight another day.* The one in*the foreground and also sitting on the bottom*is the Arizona, and we all know about her.

Your boating environment is very unlike ours, so I suppose a life vest might play a different role where you are.* I can think of circumstances where a person could drown in*six or less feet of water if they weren't wearing a vest but as you say, that's not the point of this discussion.

One of the items on your possibilities list and within the gift certificate amount is a handheld VHF.* We find this extremely useful and we*use*it all the time when one of us dinghies off to go fishing or take a hike with the dog on shore or whatever.* A number of the places we go have spotty or no cell phone coverage, so the radio is the only way to communicate with the boat.

A handy deal we had made up at the suggestion of the electronics shop we use is a cable to connect the antenna connector on the handheld to the coax cable coming down from our 24 foot VHF antenna in case of a main radio failure.* The radio that's connected to this antenna is in a panel mount that is very easy to remove so getting to the antenna cable is quite easy.* Connecting the handheld to the antenna*won't up the transmit power, of course, but it vastly improves the reception and will broadcast our signal considerably*farther than the little rubber antenna that came with the handheld.


-- Edited by Marin on Wednesday 13th of January 2010 12:44:09 AM


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I would look for a used hoist system.Single point with a car 12v winch motor .

Sure it may help with the dink, but far more important its an IDEAL way to pull a overboard guest out of the drimk.

We are getting older so hand over hand up a thin line is probably beyond us .

And add cold water and many folks will not be able to even get up a ladder , unless thefirst step is WAY underwater.

$300 nay need some help, but the local marinas and surplus stores and Craigs list may help.

The Dania Flea Market is a great place for those in FL at the right time.

March 18 , first day is usually best.

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