Not long before leaving Malaysia, we purchased an Iridium GO!. This was somewhat unexpected because Totem has long been a radio centric boat. Since we started cruising in 2008 we’ve relied solely on our HF radio for long distance communications: it has met our needs, we value the community of an informal radio net at sea, and we are grateful the safety net of land-based hams such as the awesome Pacific Seafarers Net.
But this past year, paying close attention to the progress of boats along our intended route in the Indian Ocean, we were dismayed to hear how much trouble they were having connecting to land-based stations for the purpose of receiving updated weather data over PACTOR modems- to the point that we know radio-centric boats that relied upon sailing in company with those carrying satellite based systems on board so that they could to receive updated weather forecasts.… Read More
|Photos Courtesy of Mon Iker
After a bit of an absence I would like to return with a bang, or at least a soft thud. I am currently cruising South from Maine with a crew of friends, headed for New Orleans. We’ve made it as far as Florida, always a good place for adventure.
I (maybe unfairly) tend to think of the ICW as slow, expensive, and often dull, so we’ve been staying offshore most of the time. But there are exceptions, most recently the stretch between St. Augustine and Lake Worth when we decided, for once, to avoid one of the big cold fronts which are usually our mile-makers.… Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 21, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
It was easy to gather a slew of devices currently on board Gizmo that hunger for a USB power supply at least occasionally. Heck, when the Verizon Android Galaxy phone is providing an LTE WiFi hotspot and also streaming Bluetooth audio to the Fusion IP700 stereo as it is now — I’m online while listening to a Maine radio station — it needs to be charged almost constantly. The hard-working phone is also why I keep those two USB charged/charging batteries topped up for shore trips (and, yes, they do make great press event swag, thank you Simrad and FLIR).… Read More
Day two of this year’s test-sailing program looked to be a bit snotty weather-wise, with the forecast early on showing wind gusting to 30 knots, rain, and a good chance of thunderstorms. Great conditions, in other words, for trying out the new Garcia Exploration 45. As things turned out, the weather was actually a bit more moderate than that, but we still enjoyed sporty conditions out on Chesapeake Bay during our first test sail, with the wind blowing about 20 knots true.
We sailed the whole test with two reefs in the Garcia’s mainsail and tried out both working headsails.… Read More
Just back from test-sailing boats après-show this past week at Annapolis. Five boats in two days in fairly strong conditions, with the wind blowing 20 knots at time. Once I even saw gusts to over 30. This is ideal! Normally we get light wind, which makes it harder to get a good sense of how boats behave. My first boat on day one was the Bavaria Cruiser 46, which really is just a new updated version of the Bavaria Cruiser 45. The hull and underwater appendages are the same, but the deck and interior have been modified. As you can see in that photo up top, she has a very wide butt and an enormous fold-down transom.… Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 15, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
One of many technologies I was glad to learn more about at the NMEA Conference was Furuno’s unique DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar. While it was introduced in Europe last March, FurunoUSA still hasn’t listed it online and for a while I thought they might not carry it at all. Furuno’s regional distributors seem to have some leeway in this regard, which apparently is why the Furuno MaxSea PC Radar system that Kees Verruijt covered for Panbo is not available in North America. In recent comments to that same 2013 entry you’ll find some strong reservations about the DRS4W concept and even myself writing “I don’t see the problem the Furuno WiFi Radar is solving.” My skepticism wanes as I learn more but still 1st Watch seems like a confusing bundle of limitations and possibilites.… Read More
Not surprisingly, one of the big draws at this year’s U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis has been the new Garcia Exploration 45, developed by French builder Garcia Yachts in cooperation with bluewater sailing guru, author, and ARC founder Jimmy Cornell. I’m a big fan of Garcia, which has been building boats for 40 years now, both because they build in aluminum and because they do it exceedingly well. In the last several years most of their boats have been large stratoshperic custom jobs, well beyond the reach of mere mortals with less than a couple of million to spend, so it’s heartening to see them again building something a bit more accessible.… Read More
In the run-up to cutting our docklines, my friend Toast and I would meet for workday lunch breaks in downtown Seattle to talk about All Things Cruising. It was a much needed outlet during a time that we weren’t very public with our plans, and could only bore close friends with for so long. One week, she reported back from a daysail with another would-be cruising family that hoped to point south soon: “they’re never going to leave Puget Sound.”
She was right. They didn’t leave, and sold the boat the next year. Most of the right cruising prep boxes were ticked, so what was the giveaway?… Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 9, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
On Monday I got to poke around Baltimore Harbor with a beta test version of the Simrad ForwardScan announced last spring (discussed here on Panbo) and also introduced recently as B&G ForwardScan. Navico’s sonar product manager Matthew Laster brought along several versions of the NSS evo2 software that supports the new forward looking sonar (FLS) transducer but loaded the latest, saying “It hasn’t been tried on a boat yet but I think it’s quite stable.” In fact, it was darn stable and I was quite impressed with what I saw…
Once the updates were installed, the Simrad NSS7 evo2 home screen seen above got that ForwardScan icon as did the NSS16 on the fly bridge.… Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 5, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on the deck pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say, “Well, that is cool!” when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old-fashioned method of listening to the changing vent gurgles…
Though expressed electronically, the tank problem was actually a mechanical one, and the floating sender that had apparently been jammed down by the high volume diesel fill freed itself at some point that night, probably when Gizmo whacked a particularly sharp wave.… Read More