Sailfeed
July 17th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 17, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Navionics_Vexilar_iPad_app_aPanbo.jpgWow. Combining the Navionics Boating apps and the Vexilar SonarPhone WiFi fishfinder seems like an obvious development now, but there are so many marine electronics integration possibilities these days that even the ripe low-hanging fruit can be surprising. Announced yesterday at ICAST (PDF here) and available for iPhone/iPad in August (and Android later), the combined Navionics SonarPhone app means that a small boater can have a fairly sophisticated plotter/fishfinder for about $200, phone or tablet not included (and note the issue of screen visibility in an open boat).…

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July 14th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 14, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Inmarsat_iSatPhone_2_aPanbo.jpgA brief test of the new Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 showed it to be quite a good satellite phone. Compared to the original IsatPhone Pro I tested in 2010, the new phone locks onto both GPS and Inmarsat satellites noticably faster and the voice calls seem to sound better. I also found the screen quite readable in most conditions including direct sun, and the user interface struck me as fast and easy to get the hang of. However, if you sense some “buts” coming, you are correct.…

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July 11th

The best sails for downwind cruising

Posted by // July 11, 2014 // COMMENT (7 Comments)

Boats and Gear, Cruising,

asymmetric

What’s the difference between a drifter, a gennaker, a code zero, and a screecher? Where does a spinnaker fit in? And if you’re a cruiser, what sail should you use for downwind sailing, anyway?

There is no single “best,” because everything on a boat is a compromise, and individual styles/needs vary, but we have some opinions on the optimal choice for most cruisers.

This question came up on a women’s sailing forum I participate in recently. Because Jamie is a sailmaker, I asked him for help with a response that would be useful to differentiate the options for downwind sails. Differences between these sails aren’t difficult to understand, but get confusing because the names are mixed up or misused.…

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July 8th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 8, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Marinebeam_Ultra_spot_flashlight_testing_cPanbo.jpgYou really should click on the photo above to see the higher resolution version. With my camera on a tripod I was lighting up boats and mooring buoys about 500 to 700 yards away (460 to 640 meters) with only an LED flashlight powered by three D cells. What’s more, the beam is so tight that I was able to do this testing without blinding myself or (hopefully) anyone who was on their boat in Camden’s outer harbor last night. The Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT Illuminator is an unusual and useful flashlight as is, but it also demonstrates a promising technology…

Marinebeam Ultra spot flashlight cPanbo.jpgThe Ultra Long Range flashlight is big at 13-inches long and it seems to be made well enough to take down a large mammal if used as a club.…

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July 7th

Canadian chart catalogue

Having decided that part of this summer’s cruising program on Lunacy will involve a two-week jaunt over to Nova Scotia and back, it dawned on me that I needed to make sure I actually have charts for Nova Scotia. In the previous century, which really wasn’t that long ago, this would have been a simple process. I would consult my ever-growing stack of paper charts, discover I had no relevant charts, and then call the Armchair Sailor in Newport. These people were personally known to me, and I was known to them. I would say: “Hi! Howzit going? I’m sailing to Nova Scotia.…

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July 7th

As seen in Marin Magazine, July, 2014

Freda
By Kimball Livingston

AMONG THE GOOD things in life are boats. They please the eye. They please the senses. Use the word yacht if you like. A yacht is any boat, great or small, meant for pleasure, and here too it’s often true that good things come in small packages. Little Freda is a case in point. Built in 1885 on Beach Road when Belvedere Cove still opened to the bay, she is the oldest West Coast yacht sailing, and we’ll come back to that.

Many of Northern California’s most beautiful boats are harbored in the county, but even those berthed elsewhere are part of Marin’s view of San Francisco Bay.…

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July 1st

Passoa 47 under sail

Aluminum centerboard cruisers like this are not often seen in North America, but they are common in Europe, particularly in France. Garcia Aluminum, a highly respected French builder, now reorganized as Garcia Yachting, often works on a custom basis but also builds to several standard designs. This Passoa 47, drawn by Phillipe Harle, is very representative of its species. Unlike the keel/centerboard boats most Americans are familiar with, these French boats have integral centerboards descending directly from their bilges. They draw very little water when their boards are up and make great coastal gunkholing boats. They stay upright when aground and can be driven straight on to a beach if desired.…

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June 30th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 30, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_2014_fly_bridge_cPanbo.jpgRedoing almost all of Gizmo’s electronics has taken longer than I would have guessed last fall, when it seemed like a good idea to rip everything off the boat. And sadly, I’m not done yet. But the hoped-for glass bridge theme is revealing itself and I like it a lot. But then again, new equipment and even just re-installed old gear also means fresh opportunities for things not to work together correctly. In this entry I’ll go over much of Gizmo’s test setup for the next year and a half — though by design there’s room for more — and also note a couple of features that have worked well and not so well during recent shakedown cruises…

Incidentally, the Garmin seen in the top photo is the 8212 I began testing in the lab, which fit quite neatly in the impressive second generation ScanStrut Deck Pod.…

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June 25th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 25, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Raymarine_freeze_test_courtesy_Raymarine.jpgThis frozen aSeries MFD has almost finished a two-day low temperature test, but that’s only the beginning of its suffering. Next it will run another two days in a high temperature cabinet with 85% relative humidity, and there’s still 19 more days of torture to Raymarine’s ERT (Early Reliability Test) Qualification Process. The quality of the testing tools and seriousness with which they’re used was as impressive as the Raymariner on-the-water lab, and I’m publishing more photos below because it’s reassuring to see what proper modern marine electronics have to go through before reaching our boats.…

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June 18th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Scanstrut_Rokk_rail_mount_on_bend_cPanbo.jpg“Rokk” is a apt name for Scanstrut’s adjustable mount system. Due to the large surface area and fine machining of those metal-on-metal ball and socket joints, it’s easy to precisely position an attached MFD or iPad and then just a modest twist on the white handle will render the whole rig rock solid. I tested the Rokk Adjustable Rail Mount — note how well it handles curved 1-inch rail or helm pedestal pipe — with the Lifedge iPad case holder shown, but there’s also a Rokk Adjustable Deck Mount and either can accommodate top plates custom designed for various popular displays in the 5- to 7-inch screen range.…

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