Speaking of large intermittent purchases, one of the things I’ve recently been thinking of (finally) picking up is a chartplotter. Until now I’ve used my laptop or paper charts, but that’s just about run its course and I’ve realized it’s probably worth the cost to get a nice plotter in the cockpit with detailed charts, hooked up to AIS, and so on.
That’s assuming the cost is reasonable. All too often when shopping for electronics (marine or otherwise) in Singapore, the costs are not reasonable.
I have been looking at two plotters: the Simrad NSE-8, which is what Lee has and is therefore more or less a known quantity; and its slightly less fancy cousin, the Lowrance HDS-8m. Lowrance and Simrad are both brands owned by Navico, so these items are more similar than you might otherwise expect. In both cases I’m also considering picking up a BR24 broadband radar. (There are both Simrad and Lowrance branded versions, but aside from the logos they appear to be identical.)
I fired off emails to all the Simrand and/or Lowrance distributors I could find in Singapore to get quotes. As I have come to expect here, when I got the quotes back I had the immediate feeling that I should just wait until I’m back in the US for Christmas, and live with laptop and paper navigation until then.
Some quotes, in USD, all before taxes, compared with listed prices on defender.com (similar prices are available on Amazon and many other sites):
- Lowrance HDS-8m: $1978, versus $1628 at Defender
- Lowrance BR24: $2589, versus $1628 at Defender
- Simrad NSE-8: $3689, versus $2585 at Defender
- Simrad BR24: $2097, versus $1735 at Defender
Some of these are bad but not terrible (the HDS-8m, or the Simrad BR24). But the markup on the quotes for the Lowrance BR24 and the Simrad NSE-8 is just egregious. I can order the parts from the US, and pay full international shipping and customs costs, and still save hundreds of dollars. I’m not sure how these dealers expect to get away with these kinds of prices — maybe they just assume boaters here are rich and lazy, and I guess in some cases they’d be right. Unfortunately for both them and me, I’m not rich so I can’t afford to be lazy.
Insta-update: mere seconds after posting this I got a reply from one of the local distributors alerting me to the fact that Lowrance HDS chartplotters purchased in the USA are shipped with geofencing functionality that cripples them when they detect (via GPS) they’re being used outside of 30°W and 180° (i.e., outside the Americas). The markup appears to partly be the doing of the distributors, but also of Lowrance. That’s pretty infuriating.