Saturday, October 30, 2010

Buying boat stuff

We don’t have a boat yet but we’re starting to accumulate stuff for it.  When we unpacked the cube van Marilyn sorted out a set of Silver Birch dishes for eventual use on the boat and we also set aside whatever other kitchen wares we came across that seemed like they might be useful.  We’ve been watching ebay for silverware but so far haven’t pulled the trigger on a set.  The set we use now came from Quartzsite so maybe we’ll find another set there this year.

For some time now I’ve been looking for a set of radio headsets.  I wish we had bought them years ago because they would have made backing into tight spots a lot easier over the years.  At some point we’re going to have to communicate while docking and headsets sound like the class way to go.  The alternative seems to be a lot of yelling and waving of arms which doesn’t look good at the best of times and is particularly declassé onboard a fancy boat.  But most headset systems are bloody expensive and some of them are right out of this world expensive.  Then I stumbled onto a cruisers’ forum and got a whole bunch of good information off it, including a link to Cruising Solutions which is where I found the headsets.  We had to wait until we could get our mail forwarded and then we had to wait some more until we remembered to buy some 9 volt batteries but Marilyn came home with a pair of them today.  And they work pretty damn good.  They’re not perfect but they were only 70 bucks after all.  And no radio solution is going to be perfectly clear.  The inverter on the frenchy-bus throws a lot of static so the bus isn’t the best test but even on the bus they are more than useable. 

The cruisers’ forum also pointed me to something called OpenCPN which is an open source chart plotter. 

I’m more than a little skeptical about open source software.  I got talked into using the open source alternative to Microsloth Office a few years ago and it caused me no end of grief.  In fairness to that suite, if anyone else is inclined to use it, you could likely do reasonably well with it as long as you never had to collaborate with anybody using Microsoft Office.  As it was, going back and forth from Open Office to Microsoft Office, eventually my spreadsheet files got to the point where they were unusable in either software. 

OpenCPN appears to be a lot better software.  Of course my knowledge of chart plotter software is pretty limited so maybe its pure crap and I just don’t know it.  But in the meanwhile I’m having a lot of fun playing with it.  The US government supplies excellent charts for their entire coastline free of charge.  That is not the case in Canada.  In fact the charts are so expensive from the gummit of Canada that it may actually be cheaper to buy chart plotter software in order to get the charts.  Some of the US charts overlap Canada so for the time being I’m making do with them.  Since we don’t have a boat there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of urgency on acquiring a complete set of charts.

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