Seattle Boat Show gear preview

The Seattle Boat Show is only three days away. It’s time to take a look at some of the cool stuff that will be on display for the gadget-guys among us.

Gear-heads can rejoice. The show floor this year promises to be as loaded with cool electronics, conveniences, and gadgets as ever. Need a new satphone? You’re covered. Interested in the latest advances in navigation software and chartplotters? They’re on display. Exotic new materials for rope and sails? You got it. And fenders? Oh, yeah, there are gonna be fenders galore.

Fenders in general seem to be popular display items at the show this year. I have never bought a fender in my life; new fenders fall under the “bounty of the sea” category to me, always freely available (indeed, several years ago, my wife and I stumbled across free-fender Nirvana on a remote beach on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, where some exotic confluence of wind and current had swept a veritable showroom of lost fenders all onto the same stretch of sand) on the water or washed up on beaches.

But exhibitor Boater’s Pal seems compelled to tempt me with new colors, form-factors, and clever dual-use products like the Fender2Step, a modern update of the classic FenderStep that serves both to protect my hull and as an aid to boost my aging and bloated carcass on deck from the dock or a dinghy.

A FenderFlex fender on a transom corner

FenderFlex will bend around just about any corner you’d care to bash something with (Photo by FenderFlex)

There’s also the FenderFlex, a sort of hinged cushion that can be wrapped around edges, allowing you to ricochet off even more of your exposed boat-surfaces on the way in to your slip (or guard against your neighbor attempting the same feat).

The great debate over the utility of fender hangers versus the classic yachty hitch will be ignited again over the FastFender, a re-imagined, easily-adjustable gadget to hang fenders from lifelines.

And to ensure you don’t become an inadvertent contributor to my own free fender collection, Boater’s Pal also offers a variety of retracting Kevlar gear tethers, which you can use to secure your new fenders to the vessel.

For a more hardcore audience with grander upgrade ambitions than new docking gear, there are plenty of electronic and technical products to check out as well.

S3 Maritime will be showing off the Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone, the major alternative in the satcomm market to the Iridium IsatPhone in the recreational satellite handheld phone market. S3 also carries the related, and ever-expanding, SPOT line-up of satellite communications devices, an affordable asynchronous communication option that is turning into the niche solution of choice for mariners on a budget.

Sail-geeks can get their fix at the Ullman Sails booth, where they’ll be happy to talk to you about advances in cruising sail-making using Gore Tenara sewing thread for seam-stitching. Unaffected by UV exposure, cleaning agents, saltwater, or extreme weather, the manufacturer claims, Tenara is being billed as “…the biggest improvement in cruising sails since the invention of Dacron.”

Debuting during the show will be a genuinely innovative device, the Automated AnchorBuoy.

The Automated Anchor Buoy in position and ready for launch

The Automated Anchor Buoy in position and ready for launch (Photo by The Anchor Buoy)

This patent-pending device allows you to automatically set an anchor buoy without messing around with attaching a separate line, estimating the necessary length, or fiddling with deploying a buoy as the anchor is going over the roller. Instead, the Automated Anchor Buoy affixes directly and unobtrusively do your anchor, and then self-deploys as the anchor is going into the water. It boasts a self-adjusting mechanism so it is never floating slack (and therefore, never off-station from the actual anchor location) and a solar-powered LED lamp so it is visible at night.

Will this $300 product finally make anchor buoys common in the Pacific Northwest? We may have to take a more in-depth look during the show!


3 Responses to Seattle Boat Show gear preview

  1. Bruce O'Connor January 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    Scott, the iSatPhone workers on the Inmarsat network, not the Iridium network. I know because I have one, and because my friends at S3 are trying to get me to switch to a Globalstar phone and its network.

    • Scott Wilson January 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

      Bruce, you’re absolutely right, thank you for pointing that out. Extra embarrassing considering I just interviewed and wrote an article on Inmarsat’s plans and products earlier this year.

      I’d be curious to hear about it if you decided to make the switch and see what your impressions are of the comparison.

  2. Ann Christiansen January 22, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    North Sails Seattle will also be at Century Link for the boat show! We’ll have boat show special pricing so you can get ready for warmer weather racing or cruising. And, especially for cruisers, Jack Christiansen (the local owner and manager of the North loft since 1995 and sail maker since 1982) will be presenting information on cruising spinnaker design, rigging and trim as well as the use of top-down furlers and sleeves for those sails. The talk is free, on the yellow stage, on Saturday, January 25th at 2:15 p.m. A racing trim and speed talk by North Sails is Friday the 31st at 4:15, also complimentary and on the yellow stage. Head North at the boat show!

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