Have you ever been down to the beach on a sunny day, perhaps whilst on holiday and seen other people out enjoying themselves on the water on small sports boats? That’s exactly how it happened to me. I remember one time in particular going to the IOW for a camping trip, watching from the car ferry a small power boats whizzing about in the Solent. I never knew how accessible this could be and it took about 15 years when by pure chance boating finally found me.
What kind of boat should I look for?
In the UK most powerboating is coastal. . This means tides wind and waves. Therefore its not sensible to unnecessarily expose yourself to risk or to limit yourself to almost impossible perfect conditions. It’s my view on this basis that really 16ft is a sensible minimum for a sports boat.
Secondly the type of boat plays a big role. American style bow rider boats (the ones with open seating at the front of the boat) are really quite popular, but ask anyone who has had one in a rough sea and there is a good chance they won’t recommend it. I like to call them ‘sea spoons’ as they can literally scoop up the sea in rough weather. I can assure you now that is not fun. Also in any case with this type of boat it is not recommended to have people sitting in the bow seats whilst under way in anything except perfect condition. Hit a sharp unexpected wave and its entirely possible the passenger(s) will be thrown overboard or if not sustain quite nasty injuries.
This isn’t a full feature review. This is a real life review. The difference is this is what you would experience if you owned the same product. If you want a traditional review then this may be more suitable but IMHO not as useful.
I have been using the HX851 since it was released in 2013. It has survived two years of use in some pretty rough conditions. I have used it on board in competitive power boat racing and also for leisure. It has had an entirely typical life being knocked around the boat, chucked in bags, dropped and the rest.
Standard Horizon know how to make good kit. Their RF experience with radio equipment is very good indeed, and using this it shows. After the time I have owned it, it is still performing as good as when it was new.
Battery life is great, I have never had it run out on me even when using it for a weekend of boating – but it is only on when needed.
Audio quality is absolutely fine, and the inbuilt speaker is really quite loud when you need it to be. I have been able to hear race instructions on a race boat whilst wearing a crash helmet, with a noisy engine running. It surprised me how clearly I could still hear the audio.
It does float – I have tried it! (Intentionally I may add) and after two years it is showing no signs of ingress or any future potential future problems.
DSC features are pretty cool. I have had a few interesting things pop up from other boats (emergencies and such) but I have never actually used it myself to send messages. That also surprised me as I’m a geek at heart.
There are really two things to say against the HX851. The first slightly annoying quirk is there is no nice way to charge this VHF from a 12 source. Due to the design there are no plugs accessible on the VHF to plug in a charger. You HAVE to use a little charging cradle, and that plugs into the 12v supply. This is a bit annoying. It looks messy and really the cradle wouldn’t be at all suitable on say a Rib or open sports boat.
The second REALLY annoying. The screen; it scratches far too easily by being the most proud part of the radio when lying face down. One day the last summer I put the radio in the glove box on boat. About an hour later I removed it and the screen was scratched so badly that the lower 1/4 of the screen was impossible to read! I did however manage to polish it out to the point that it was readable again, but that is a silly oversight and really frustrating – so be warned.
Great audio performance, great battery life. Fantastic feature list (some of which you may not use) full DSC capabilities only let down by a cosmetic design flaw.
Would I still recommend it? Absolutely yes.
2016 begins again with the London boat show. As always the noise from the ageing part of the boat fraternity sill whine and complain “its getting smaller” “its not like Earls Court”. Ignore all that nonsense and enjoy the show!!!
I think its the 6th time I’ve been and I’m still learning, but with that said here are some highlights I took away (didn’t take many pictures to be honest).
In particular it was great to see Rockford Fosgate enter the marine audio market. Having been a ICE audio chap some time ago, I learnt a lot about the best automotive audio out there. These days Fusion audio really sit alone in the true marine audio market, but whilst the radios are ok, they are not amazing and lack some pretty basic audio features. Rockford Fosgate now blows them away in this respect. Quite interesting times indeed!!
Seemed to take forever this year, but finally after the most recent changes were made to the 170, and without even time for a sea trial the year begun with the South west sports boat rally in Torquay.
This annual event organised by the SWFBR is a small rally for all sports boats under 25 foot. Last year was the first time that I had attended and it was a mad rush to get Wavelength II ready again for this one, but I did – JUST and without even a sea trial arrived finally at 3am Saturday morning just a few hours before the day was due to begin. If you want to read more about this event then just check out the 170 diary, and in addition the new upgrades and engine swap that has also been carried out in the 170 project section.
So that as already said was the first run out. The second was last weekend with a trip to Southampton. It turned out to be a ROUGH one with strong winds, but still really good fun.
So not a lot else has been going on in my world of boating. But hopefully a lot more will happen during the rest of this season!!
So with SWFBR over and done (all too soon!) here are a few pictures from the event:
There is also a video from Monday here:
this is a test
Added a page of external sites, if you haven’t noticed this is on the left column
I like the London boat show. I’ve only ever been to it at the Excel London, so don’t fall into the older crowd who still reminisce about the days of ‘old’ show at Earls Court, but life moves on, even if some people don’t. London is a good show, and when I first went in 2010 it took me a while to understand it all. I remember clearly just wandering around really not knowing what I was doing or looking at, but after a while names of boats and people begin to become familiar and the show takes on a new meaning.
The 2015 London Boat show was interesting. I occasionally work in the events industry so have a certain amount of respect for those who exhibit although that being said the 4D attraction didn’t really add that much to the show, even if it was technically clever, which is a shame.
I then found myself looking at the new Evinrude G2 engine. Normally the people on the stands I’ll be honest don’t really know much beyond the cover of what they are selling (technically) and so mostly my questions end up with a blank face or being misunderstood, but that being said the all new Evinrude G2 engines are AMAZING & even better the chap I was speaking to was also well informed when it came to asking questions. Everything about them makes so much sense. Direct injection 2 stroke engine with internal steering system, 2 stroke oil reservoir – no inboard tank and incredibly a 500hr service interval. These are proper bits of kit, highly efficient and very clean. Quite frankly it shows up everything else produced by anyone else. Providing they prove to be reliable, they will be the best outboard engine there is for quite some time. Sorry Yamaha, Mercury, Suzuki etc.
Moving on I wondered about some of the boats, I don’t usually get too close and only board a couple. I’m a bit strange in the sense that I don’t like my time being wasted and so I don’t like to waste the time of other salespeople when they could perhaps be dealing with people in a position to spend on a new boat (one day!) but I was caught by a sales chap from idealboat.com who invited me to take a look at one of their Chaparral boats a 225SSi.
A nice boat it was too. Great lines, and good external finish. I wasn’t so impressed with the cuddy however. It was clear it was finished to a price (fair enough) and so the thick carpet style material was rough and bumpy from the finish beneath. If your expecting car trim level if finish – it wasn’t but in the cockpit it was spot on and on my quick 10minute tour I thought it was well done.
One boat I do keep going back to look at however is the Jeanneau Merry Fisher 855. I really like this boat. Its one I can see myself owning one day. A genuine family weekender boat with two cabins and plenty of spacious cabin and rear deck space. It’s a really clever use of boat space. Granted it looks a /little/ bit too much of a fishing boat, but it still has a few sporty lines and I do keep reading how it rides the sea well and other positive comments. Now, one of these with two of the Evinrude G2 engines.. The only sad thing is the standard boat is only rated to 300hp, but they do an offshore version which will take 400. Really to have some proper fun I’d want at least twin 250’s in my dream scenario. I can dream eh!!
After this we came across the friendly people from Motor Boat Owner (hope you don’t mind the use of your image!) this is a free digital boating magazine. Now that Motorboat Monthly has ceased publication (Damn you Time Inc) and Sport Boat & Rib is loooooooooong gone (my first boating magazine) we are only left with PowerBoat & Rib or MBY, but MBO is different. It’s real life boating with real people. I’m not entirely sure how they do it, I once tried to do a digital automotive monthly magazine for a car club – and it was impossible, but fair play to them. Their digital publication has been going for over a year now and was confidently told at the show its getting more and more popular, which I can quite believe. I had a quick chat with them about the things I have been getting up to here and will be forwarding them some information shortly!
Now here is another interesting thing I came across. If you have ever owned a motorbike then you are probably already aware of a scheme known as DataTag. DataTag is a forensic method of tagging your property in an attempt to make it less inviting for a thief. They have now started a scheme specifically targeted at outboards. The system which retails at £40. The nice thing about this system is its DIY capable. It works on the basis of visibly and invisibly identifying your outboard engine. The visible sticker is placed on the cowling. This is an ‘ultra destruct’ type of sticker that makes it very hard to remove. Then there is a sticker that is placed on the gearbox this has a laser etched serial number which you then paint over with the supplied UV etch paint. The idea being that even if the sticker is removed the ID will be visible with UV light. Also included is a transponder chip which you hide somewhere on the loom this will respond to police transponder scanners (much like dog chipping) and allows the identity to be checked. Finally if that is all not enough the system also comes with a load of tiny microdots which you paint in various places around the engine. These also contain the serial number allowing another way of identity testing. Phew! All of this is managed via an on line database which is tied to the owner, and is transferable if the engine is sold. To me this all seems a rather good idea so much so I brought one (p.s. DataTag has not paid me to write this but if they want to send me a few more – thats fine I’ll put it on my other engines).
Beyond this I spent the rest of the day looking at electronic gadgets buying a few bits and bobs, checked in at the RYA stand and generally had a good all round day. Can’t say fairer than that.
Slightly different but the next boating event I’m likely to be at will be the Beauleiu Boat Jumble on the 26th April, and finally the Southampton boat show in 11-20th September 2015.
Trying to find a nice way to make navigation on this site work. Its quite tricky. Not used to wordpress and it has a few odd limitations which arn’t really limitations but require plug-ins and messing about to make it work how you want to.
A London boat show article has been added. I enjoyed this. Hopefully you can read my article and see why.