ome years ago, a friend asked me to help deliver his sailboat from Anacortes, Washington, to Seattle, following a late-season cruise in the gorgeous San Juan Islands. The mid-November evening was dark and damp, and our thinly staffed crew was fortified with thickly insulated jackets, Gore-Tex foul-weather gear and piping-hot coffee. The boat, however, was fairly light on electronics. While she carried a listen-only AIS, we were naked of radar and bereft of a thermal-imaging camera, which are extremely useful on Pacific Northwest waters that are rife with heavy metal (container ships) and deadheads (upturned logs, with their root balls exposed to the water’s surface). Fortunately, our passage was a cold but quiet one, and while the AIS kept us clear of commercial traffic by quantifiable distances, we had no choice but to trust the big-ocean theory when it came to dodging deadheads.