For the past five years or so of owning my old boat, boat shows really weren’t that much of an attraction for me. I had the boat fully outfitted the way I wanted, and I was happy with all the systems. There were always some fancy new widgets to see, but nothing that really moved me.
With a new (to us) boat, that changes–a lot! There are some things that we want to change to make the boat “ours”, some systems need updated to bring them to what we are used to, and a very few things need repair or replacement.
We have been into the show three days so far, so busy running from one vendor to another, evaluating gear, negotiating prices, seeing other gear, around and around, we have hardly had a chance to see boats.
Some of the purchases are big. New autopilot. Solar power installation. New offshore liferaft. Some are small. New lines. Various small fittings. Even light bulbs. When ever possible, we picked things up here at the show, or had them shipped to us here before we have to move on. A few bigger things are going to have to be shipped to where ever we are when they are ready.
Our shopping strategy is simple, and has proven effective. I usually start with the technical questions. If this is something we have actually planned to purchase, we have usually done a LOT of homework ahead of time. In some cases I have learned as much much about the product and options as the guy on the other side of the table. Sometimes the conversation wouldn’t make much sense to someone walking by, like this piece from a discussion about radar that Karen found so funny:
Salesman: You have an existing radar?”
Bill: “Yes, a 20 year old Furuno.”
Salesman: “Ah, the 10 inch screen. I can give you a credit for that one.
Once the seller and I have worked out the exact list of things we want a price on, it’s time to turn loose the secret weapon–Karen. Pretty much no matter what terms, price and conditions the seller offers, she makes clear that that just isn’t good enough. And not every time, but more often than not, the final result is a savings, and sometimes a big savings, over the regular price. Sometimes I think they don’t quite know what hit them. She did such a good job on the Helly Hanson Rep in April of last year at the show in Oakland California, he recognized her as soon as she walk up to his booth here in Annapolis. Gotta love that May Company training!
Now, I have a long list of work to do installing all these new goodies!