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Testing Electronics on Board a Classic Grand Banks, (continued)

Arawak interior


The bottom line is Arawak ends up places. She’s sort of like one of those independent women of a certain age who decides to head down to the Keys for some R&R with a friend. But she’s got appointments she needs to make, for various procedures and upgrades, and she’s been to a bunch of boat shows. Various members of the MyBoatWorks team love to take her out and squire her around. But they don’t always feel the need to put her back where they found her. That’s just fine. But she should maybe have a satellite locator beacon on her, so we know when she’s on the move and where she may end up. The team filled us in on where we could get aboard, and also where she needed to go—Florida’s east coast, to Stuart, and then on to the Palm Beach International Boat Show.

Meanwhile we had been hitting the phones and the e-mail, speaking to our industry contacts to get our hands on the equipment we wanted to test. Here’s the thing about taking a week out of the office to get some gear and electronics testing done: You’ve got to think big, and that’s for two reasons. First of all, you don’t want to get into a situation where you’re coming back with just a couple of items tested and a killer suntan. That sends the wrong message. Plus you don’t know what’s going to work and what’s not going to work (for whatever reason) on the boat. Best to have too much to deal with than not enough.

We came loaded for bear. As soon as everything was aboard, Harding and I got down into that aft storeroom, er, stateroom and began to slice open our boxes. I moved to the saloon with boxes from Raymarine, Garmin, and Furuno, and set up the multifunction displays. The units were new and we weren’t flush-mounting anything so I tore into each box, one at a time (can’t be mixing up the parts) rigged the brackets, put on the sunshields to protect the controls and displays, and flipped them to get a look at the wire hookups. After each setup was rigged and ready, it went back into the box on top of its packing material until it was ready for its closeup.

Harding grabbed a different set of items and carefully took out the parts and readied them for his testing and video shoots. At one point I peered down the companionway and he was coiling the power cord of a Kenyon electric grill set up on the berth (not plugged in, of course).

Which brings me to the second point of logistics on the test: Installation practices. We’re not professional electronics installers and indeed the only electronics we used on the boat that were installed permanently were the components of the Simrad helm system and the Yanmar engine displays. But that didn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and so we got quite a pile of electronics sent to our pickup point.

As we took steps through the process of planning and travel, it became apparent to all of us: This is an investment in our methods, our editorial process, and by extension, our relationship with you, our audience. The time, occasional aggravation, and expense would no doubt be worth it if we managed to learn a thing or two. And learn we did.

We arrived at Arawak at her slip in Islamorada’s Coral Bay Marina a day early to load our gear and get situated (yes, we had that much stuff with us). One enormous box addressed to Harding intrigued me as he and Turner hoisted it onto the flying bridge. As our gear editor he always seems to have a trick up his sleeve. Tommy was to join us the following day and, while we had some time, we got familiar with at least some of the ship’s systems that we would need to know.

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