Boats and Gear

59N Podcast: John Franta

18 Aug

John Franta is the brains behind Colligo Marine and their synthetic rigging products. Andy met John in 2009 at the Annapolis Sailboat Show and has been friends with him since. Arcturus was the first monohull that we know of that crossed an ocean with Colligo Dux synthetic rigging, and John and Andy have been working together on promoting synthetic rigging for cruising boats since their first meeting. They discuss the business behind Colligo and how John transitioned from a corporate job as an engineer at GM, to a start-up founder with Colligo. He’s an inventor and a businessperson, and that ...

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Best sails for downwind cruising: reader questions

17 Aug

Totem in Moorea

What do you want to know about downwind sails? It turns out, more than we expected! Last month’s post on the best sails for downwind cruising was an answer for a friend, but it prompted other questions in responses- here on the blog and on Totem’s Facebook page. Jamie has many years of experience as a sailmaker, and is happy to help clarify or do Q&A.

This isn’t about light air sails, but downwind sails. Of course, that gets a little complicated because genoas, jibs, and Code Zero sails are upwind or downwind sails. The punchline, to spare ...

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Podcast: ‘Black Swan’ Outfitting

14 Aug

Another ‘Essay Friday’ for you to think about! Andy’s ideas on how to outfit the ocean sailing yacht based on the principles found within Nassim Taleb’s classic book ‘The Black Swan.’ Andy talks about not the chances of a piece of gear failing onboard, but rather the consequences of that failure and how that should influence what you decide to fit, or not fit, on an oceangoing boat. What do you think?...

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MBHH Show 2014: Akalaria RC3, Dock Works utility cat & other surprises

14 Aug

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

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I knew I’d gotten Maine Yacht Center’s Brian Harris to photograph me in the comfortable driver’s seat he designed for the second Aklaria RC3 finished out at MYC, but how did the shot come out of my camera like this? Did I fall into some revery imagining reaching the 20 knots this exotic Open 40 racer is easily capable of? The 12th annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show was rich in the elegant lobster yachts and daysailors my state has become famous for, but there ...

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Siren Marine cellular boat monitoring long test, reliable & powerful

11 Aug

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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Boat theft is very rare in Maine, but on a recent Saturday night someone apparently “borrowed” a big twin outboard off a local dock for a “joy ride” during which something was hit hard enough to hole the topsides, and then they put the boat back on the dock and vanished! To my knowledge the mystery remains unsolved, but it sure jogged my memory about the Set feature on the Siren Marine cellular monitoring system I’ve been testing for over two years. The partial phone screen ...

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AUTOPILOT FAILURE: Back Across the Gulf of Maine

4 Aug

Self-steering options

I knew this day would come. I recently discussed having to make up new wood-chip “fuses” for the “electric vane” rig on Lunacy, and in the whole time I’ve owned the boat, about eight years now, this has been the only repair I’ve had to do to keep my autopilot system going. But the small tiller-pilot that is the brains of the operation is very old, and I did expect it would fail eventually. Which is what happened when Mr. Lassen and I were scuttling home from Nova Scotia a few days ago.

It wasn’t a big deal at ...

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The DIY lithium battery bank; Bob Ebaugh has 330 cycles so far

1 Aug

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 1, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Bob_n_Elaine_Ebaugh_cruise_courtesy_MarAzulAdventures.jpg

Bob and Elaine Ebaugh did it, leaving Florida in April, 2011, on their DeFever 44 Mar Azul and spending more than two years cruising a big Caribbean loop. Their blog, Mar Azul Adventures, is a good read, but you might miss the fact that during the cruise Bob managed to research, assemble, test and install a 1,200 amp hour do-it-yourself lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery bank to replace the 12 golf cart batteries they’d worn out. He also wrote a thorough white paper about why ...

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Edson Marine: old school, new school

31 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 31, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I visited Edson Marine headquarters while Gizmo was in New Bedford, Massachusetts, during my cruise home in May 2013, and one vivid memory is this old catalog that co-owner Will Keene showed me. My old sloop Alice had one of those Mahogany Steering Wheels, and while I’m sure it cost more in 1946, it’s amazing to realize that you could once buy one for $15, Ebonized Rim included. I also enjoyed seeing how well Edson has kept on keeping on since Jacob Edson invented and started ...

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Furuno 711C Navpilot head & MCU002 remote keypad, TZT style

29 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 29, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Furuno_711c_autopilot_head_SETCSE_aPanbo.jpgThe press release (PDF here) for Furuno’s new color 711C autopilot control describe it as “completely redesigned to provide an excellent match with Furuno’s flagship line of NavNet TZtouch MFD’s… right down to the control knob!” There’s no denying the similar handsome styling, and doesn’t it make you wonder if Furuno will eventually offer a color NMEA 2000 instrument display with the same standard DIN size and 4.1-inch color screen? That’s 100% speculation on my part, but doesn’t it make sense as Furuno finds ...

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Life raft: more than two four letter words

26 Jul

Examining raft contents. Photo (c) Michelle Elvy

How do you choose a life raft? We looked for the best raft available. That wasn’t enough.

As dewy-eyed gonna-be cruisers, we focused on choosing a superior product for that moment of (heaven forbid) dire need. We looked at independent research reports, read books and blogs about the life raft experiences of other cruisers, and met with all major brand reps at boat shows. After much deliberation, we settled on a six-man Winslow life raft as the crucial piece of safety gear that we hope to never use.

Our initial certification on the new raft was good for three years, ...

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