Sunday, August 26, 2012

Defender - Marine Outfitter

Aqua Signal Series 40 port navigation light from
While I was in Savannah last April working on Whispering Jesse, I made several trips to the local West Marine store. The people there were very helpful with helping me find what I needed and ordering what they didn't have in stock. But on my last trip to the store, they were unable to help me. I had thought of West Marine as having absolutely everything I could ever need for our boat, but it turns out that they don't. I had walked in with a damaged port navigation light and a somewhat melted--it's a long story--plastic scupper fitting to see about replacements. The young lady at the check-out counter pulled out her catalogs and searched in vain. She took my contact information and said she would do some further research and call me with the results. I never heard from her.

Plastic elbow fitting from for scupper drain repair
Back home, I received an unsolicited marine catalog in the mail from an outfit called Defender. The slim catalog's newsprint pages were densely packed with listings of every imaginable boat part. I didn't find my parts in the catalog, but fortunately, Defender also has a densely packed website (, so I went there on the off chance that they would have what I needed. And they did. I had nothing to compare their prices against, but they seemed reasonable. The last time Nan and I were in Denver, we checked out a Honda Marine 5 HP outboard motor for our inflatable dinghy and were quoted a price of $2000. Defender carries Honda outboards, so I did a quick comparison check: $1556! That savings offsets the freight with a few hundred dollars leftover. If the savings on the parts are anything like the savings on the outboard, then there's no need to search any further. This November, a few weeks before I head out to Savannah again, I'll be placing an order for both the parts and the outboard with Defender.

CORRECTION 9/24/12: I went back and read the fine print in Defender's listing for their Honda outboards. It turns out that they can only sell them either as a "boat package" that includes a small fishing boat or inflatable dinghy and requires delivery to a commercial loading dock, or by themselves if you go to Waterford, Connecticut to pick them up. Those are not good options. We already have a Zodiac dinghy, and Waterford is a little out of the way. It looks like we'll be looking for an authorized dealer a little closer to home. But I'll still order the other parts, and anything else the boat needs, from Defender. You can't beat their prices.

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