Building and provisioning a boat, there are a lot of decisions to make. All my friends said going to the Fort Lauderdale boat show would be the best way to see everything in one place. I had not been to a Florida boat show since about 2003.
I had a couple major things to decide. The first was Garmin vs Furuno for my electronics package. The Hampton factory has a special relationship with Garmin and thus they are a great deal and installation in Shanghai is free. OTOH virtually all commercial operators use Furuno and for good reason.
Our commissioning guys told me "Garmin is known to be more user friendly, but not as robust. Furuno is known to be more robust, but not as user friendly. In reality they are both moving in the same direction, with Garmin becoming more reliable and feature filled, and Furuno becoming more freindly.
Watching some Youtube videos on the latest Furuno screens certainly bore that out. I had used a Garmin setup on one of our charter boats and felt it was fine. I also felt like I could teach anyone to use it, which is an advantage with guests and such.
I also needed to talk with all the life raft people and select a raft. Well, enough blabbing on, let's see some pictures:
I did select a life raft, from Winslow Life Raft company. So that was an item checked off.
There wasn't crystal clarity on the Furuno vs Garmin decison while at the show. This is mostly about the MFD (multi function display) screens and the various sensors, etc, that back them up. Garmin had just acquired the best chart data company in the world. They are doing some very cool integrations with other products.
I'd certainly prefer to have the Furuno radar which is hands down the best in the business. Support seems to be excellent from both companies.
After being home for a few days and having Hampton quote a Garmin installation, I decided to go with Garmin. The difference is about $40k (Partly due to their sonar being $15k and Garmins' being $1.5k, and partly due to the factory doing the Garmin install for free vs paying US labor rates to install the Furuno here).
But I'm going with the best radios available - ICOM. All in all, a worthwhile trip.