A visit to a boating megastore

Bob shops the largest marine electronics department in the world.

No matter how well equipped a new sailboat is, there’s always something it needs…

So off we went to Fort Lauderdale — boating capital of the world — to the new West Marine megastore and Sailorman. On our list were two new anchors, anchor chain and rode, electronic charts for the GPS, a pelican hook to replace a broken one, a new cowling for a dorade and a couple of pet life jackets.

At 50,000 square feet, the West Marine superstore is the largest boating supply store in the United States and possibly the world — five times the size of its standard retail outlets. The superstore carries 35,000 products and you can order many thousands more from its catalogue.

It was a little overwhelming. Think Ottawa’s new Ikea store. After asking for some help, we were directed to the office of cruising specialist Pam Wall, a feisty little woman single-hander with several circumnavigations “under her keel.” Based on our needs, Pam made some helpful suggestions and offered us a nice discount on anything we buy for the boat this month.

The anchor we wanted (a 35 pound Manson Supreme) is very popular and out of stock in most stores. We were able to snag the last one they had thanks to Pam. We also picked up a Fortress as our secondary anchor and we have 120 feet of 5/16″ chain on order. They had the electronic charts we required for Florida and the Bahamas too.

A block away from West Marine is Sailorman, a well-known marine store specializing in new and used boat equipment. We got great service at Sailorman too. They were able to repair a broken pelican hook, which saved us some cash. Both stores welcome dogs.

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