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cost for marine supplies

Before our July cruise, I installed the Hawkeye Depth Finder Model #D10D because my previous low-dollar depth finder (Uniden QT 206W) had failed. I’ve had a good opportunity now to compare the performance of both, and can definitely recommend the Hawkeye over the Uniden.

It seems that it is possible to pay up to $500 for a large format “sailboat” depth finder that mounts on the bulkhead. However, the availability of high-dollar stand-alone units is dropping off due to the popularity of consolidated multifunction displays for gps/chart plotter/depth finder/radar displays. And as I’ve looked at the market recently, I’ve noticed what seems to be greater selection among models and makers in the budget depth finder realm. I think makers of marine gear are understanding that the market for high-dollar gear has out priced the budget boaters, and they are now offering more products in the $100-$150 range, which is where I live as well. Don’t mistake this as altruistic behavior on the part of marine gear makers – I’m sure they are more motivated to not leave money on the table by ignoring this large group of boaters.

Regardless, the Uniden model represented a poor value with respect to construction and performance. I had this unit installed on my boat for about four years. After the first year, the display began to suffer from UV and weather-related damage, although it still functioned. The plastic display became frosty, the printed controls lost their readability, having faded in the sun. Finally, the display window cracked, which allowed moisture to enter the unit and make it unserviceable.

All-plastic components with no protective covering provided. It was a UV victim waiting to happen.

All-plastic components with no protective covering provided by the manufacturer. It was a UV victim waiting to happen.

Performance-wise, it was inconsistent at best, but I must say that whenever I absolutely needed to know the depth when approaching shoal waters, it gave me the right information. This may in part be due to my choice of installation. I installed the transducer inside the hull without drilling a hole, and I didn’t glue it to the hull with epoxy – rather, I bedded it in a blob of silicone. I am confident this degraded its performance to some degree. It would never give much in formation in waters deeper than 50 feet, and often in choppy conditions it would return error readings, I assume due to the amount of air passing underneath its location just behind the vee-berth, or the inability of the processor to keep up with excessive motion as found in choppy conditions. When that area was ventilated by air bubbles, I feel sure the device had a more difficult time determining depth. Additionally, it featured a gain, or sensitivity adjustment on the back side, which was extraordinarily touchy.

By comparison, the Hawkeye, while still mostly plastic, features a glass screen. While vulnerable to impact damage, it is nearly impervious to effects of UV radiation, which means that the screen will always be readable. Additionally, it comes with a protective cover which will shield the unit from the sun during the many days and weeks when the typical boat is not in use. I did not install the new transducer that was included in the purchase. Instead, I determine through reading the spec sheet, that both Uniden and Hawkeye used the same frequency and wattage transducer. Not installing a transducer spared me a lot of trouble and effort with the installation. I was also curious how the unit would perform with the old transducer.

New meter from HawkEye - fits the into the same diameter hole.

Depth meter from HawkEye – fits the into the same diameter hole as the Uniden model.

The Hawkeye returns depth measurement much more consistently, with many fewer instances of error reporting. It will also return more depth data in deeper water than the Uniden, although it also has more difficulty with depths larger than 50 feet. Again, my suspicion is that installation mode is a significant factor, and that an external placement would yield more accurate depths more often regardless of the depth of the moment. That said, however, the Hawkeye is significant improvement over the Uniden model. It is less sensitive to choppy conditions, returns readings very consistently in waters up to 50-60 feet deep, and has no gain/sensitivity adjustment. Apparently, the “new improved” algorithms for calculating data are indeed effective, and obviate the need for a gain adjustment featured on depth finders made by other companies.

So at about the same price point (approx. $100 for each) the Hawkeye is a much better value than the Uniden. I feel more confident with this unit on board than I have with any other brand during our ownership of Cay of Sea – and early on, we had a “legacy” Datamarine large-format (read expensive) depth gauge.

Sanding fiberglass ranks low on my list of favorite things to do, and I had the “itch” to do something else for a day (pun intended). I had ordered twist button canvas fasteners from Sailrite.com after researching price. I bought six sets (eye, twist fastener, and backing plates) for $.94 each. They were far and away the least expensive place to get them, even with shipping added in (about $6). A set of four would have cost so much more at West Marine ($14 for two sets) and approximately $2.60 each at Defender Marine. If there is any way you can avoid buying anything at West Marine, you should. On average, West marks up their prices at 1/3 above any other place on the web, and often above any other chandlery in town. Their stock in trade is convenience – one-stop shopping (or so they hope). On other items, they simply fleece the customer. There is no reason on earth to charge the sort of prices they do for some products, except that – amazingly – people will buy it anyway to avoid having to plan ahead. Occasionally you can get an item on sale at West that is a reasonably good deal. That’s the only time I really consider buying at West.

Oh yeah. . . the project!  I purchased a used headsail deck bag with my “new” (to me) jib, but it was a bit worn in one area.  The aft closure of the bag depended on UV damaged hook-and-loop fasteners. The hook-and-loop tape and had lost most of its grip, and I planned to change the closure method with canvas twist-and-eye sets. I don’t really like snaps – they corrode, can be difficult to operate when they age, and can lose their grip. These twist fasteners are fool-proof, don’t hurt your arthritic hands because they don’t become difficult to operate, etc..

Image from sailrite.com. This is what you get in one set. As you can see, the eye is fitted into one side of the canvas, and the twist lock into the other.

Image from sailrite.com. This is what you get in one set. As you can see, the eye is fitted into one side of the canvas, and the twist lock into the other.

I installed 4 sets right through the hook-and-loop tapes – and I managed to install both male and female pieces facing the right direction in the correct sides of the work piece! I’ve found that the most effective way to form the holes through acrylic canvas (like Sunbrella) for the eyes and the push-through points is to use a soldering iron. Just get the iron hot, set the piece  where it should go, and touch the iron to the fabric several times. It will melt the material while forming a hole, and seal the fabric threads at the same time. This probably will NOT work with regular cotton duck/canvas. You’ll have to some sort of cutting tool for that.

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The piece of green webbing above was used to form a loop in the back of the bag for support off the deck.

Webbing sewn into one side of the bag - not one end on either side of the bag - that would have made stowing the sail very difficult.

Webbing sewn into one side of the bag (starboard side) – not one end on either side of the bag – that would have made stowing the sail very difficult.

I sewed down a preexisting length of hook-and-loop tape to form a loop on the forward top of the bag (it was originally intended to go around the forestay), and fashioned a harness from line. The line is temporarily knotted into the correct length and shape. Next week I’ll get a couple brass snap hooks from the hardware store and substitute them for knots. That will expedite stowing the sail and hoisting the bag when needed – I won’t be standing on the bow retiring knots each time.

Here's the harness, knotted to the right length.  The jib halyard lifts the whole off the deck when managing the ground tackle, and keeps it off the deck when at the slip or at anchor.

Here’s the harness knotted to the right length. The jib halyard lifts the bag off the deck when managing the ground tackle, and keeps it off the deck when at the slip or at anchor.

I used my Speedy Stitcher sewing awl to attach the loops. This is a great tool for a job like this. I’ve also used it to repair sails in place (on deck). It goes fast, and is practically the only way to sew a locking stitch by hand through the heavy materials we use as sailors. I’ve easily and quickly sewed heavy gauge leather chafe patches on canvas with it. An interesting price comparison is observable here:  This tool sells for $36.99 at West Marine, but you can order it through Amazon for $11.90.

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