Testing Furuno DRS4D-NXT solid-state Doppler radome, “Radar Redefined” most definitely

2 Aug

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 2, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


After many hours testing a NXT radome on Gizmo in often busy Maine waters, I believe that Furuno’s bold “Radar Redefined” claim is completely justified. This radar is so smart that it makes sense to run it in broad daylight. Brightly highlighting the one vessel (above) moving toward me in Camden Harbor’s forest of moored and moving boats is just one example of its highly automated and intelligent features. I fear that many readers will suffer radar jealousy as I detail what I’ve seen so far, ...

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Ocean Sailing Forum Toronto

1 Aug

Click here for direct download link.

Episode 156 is another World Cruising Club ‘Ocean Sailing Forum,’ this one recorded back in January at the Toronto International Boat Show. In the Forum, I moderated a panel of experienced ocean sailors including Les Suter, who you’ll recall from episode 97, Toronto native Colin Kilgour, Sheryl Shard of the Distant Shores TV show, Caribbean 1500 and ARC Europe vets Joy & Ian Winterborn, and finally, drumroll please, Mia Karlsson! I give a thorough introduction to who all of the panelists are in the actual episode. Towards the last third, there is also a ...

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An Afternoon ‘Recce’ to Mythical Sable Island

1 Aug

“It’s like hearing about this legendary place, and not totally trusting that it’s really there. Then when you see it for yourself, and it really does exist, what a cool feeling!”

Those were Mia’s excited words this evening as Isbjorn ghosted along the beach just off Sable Island, that mythical sand spit at the confluence of the Gulf Stream and Labrador currents, 150 miles from mainland Nova Scotia. Even the Sailing Directions, normally straight and to the point, reserve a bit of hyperbole for the place. After explaining how the wild horses that Sable is known for got here in ...

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Boat Command CONNECT! Meets Smoke Alarm

1 Aug


The manufacturers of Boat Command, the boat monitoring platform, didn’t build the system with a smoke alarm option. It’s got all manner of sensors, inputs, and alerts, but no smoke alarm, and if you read Boat US’s statistics on boat losses and insurance claims, fire is number five. Stats aside, the main things I worry about while I’m away from my boat are flooding (that’s a big number 1), fire, break-ins, theft, and dead batteries. These are the main reasons I installed the Boat Command system, but it does lots of other neat stuff too. Full disclosure: as ...

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A Foggy Entrance to St. Pierre

30 Jul

I’m writing from the yacht club wharf in St. Pierre, the last remaining outpost of France’s once sprawling New World empire. At one point in time, it stretched from Newfoundland to the Mississippi. No more.

We’re in St. Pierre & Miquelon, a spectacularly rocky, wind-swept archipelago about ten miles south-southwest of the Burin Peninsula on Newfoundland’s south coast. This is France proper. Not French-Canadian, but French. And very much so. Where the architecture of homes and businesses in Newfoundland was rugged and utilitarian, in St. Pierre it’s colorful and charming. Some folks speak English, but not much, and not ...

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A New England summer aboard

29 Jul


DSC_9688Our summer in New England is half over: flying by! Dangerous, as we have a long list of projects and repairs to do on Totem…but before digging into them, we had a few people to visit, places to see, presentations to give.

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It was a great experience for all of us to share our stories at Falmouth Academy to a mix of people, instead of a more exclusively “cruiser/sailor” audience. The questions are great! It also afforded our kids an opportunity to get in front of a crowd, one of the ‘normal’ kid experiences ours don’t often have. But the ...

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Summer fun: Camden, Panbots & Gizmo

27 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 27, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

yachts_RH3_and_RH4_special_opps_style_lr_cPanbo.jpgHave we reached the era when “special ops” makes sense as a superyacht style? I joke, but RH3 would be pretty imposing even if it weren’t cruising Maine in company with the all-black, dual jet drive, 40-foot-plus RH4. Given the two other substantial black tenders on the boat deck — and lord knows what’s in the hidden arms lockers (ok, I’m fantasizing, but armament is a seriously untold big yacht story) — this team seems ready to fend off a serious bad guy attack or ...

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Dilly & Tony Save the Day

27 Jul

Zero dark thirty. I’m on radar watch at the nav station. Thus far, the coast is clear. Our new crew David is on deck, fighting off the first signs of seasickness. The fog has come and gone all day. Just now its rolled in thick, visibility down to zero. The glow of the tricolor light reflecting on the heavy fog casts an eerie shadow to either side of the boat, just at that transition angle between the colored, red/green lights that shine forward, and the white light that shines astern. The wind just shut down again and we are motor-sailing ...

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WRI Weather Forecast for leaving St. Johns

26 Jul

On the 26th, a ridge of high pressure will extend from 40N/60W
NE’ward through Newfoundland and will shift east of Newfoundland through the
27th.  To the west, a low pressure centered over the E’rn St Lawrence River
Valley willmove ENE’ward over Labrador through the 28th. An accompanying cold
front will extend SW’ward over W’rn Nova Scotia on the morning of the 26th and
will move E’ward over the E’rn Gulf of St Lawrence through Cabot Strait by
midday on the 27th, after undergoing some weakening.  The front will weaken
into a trough as it moves over Newfoundland the night of ...

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Comanche in pursuit of Transat record

25 Jul
The big ship Comanche
This should come as no surprise to anyone. The big ship Comanche is currently halfway across the Atlantic in pursuit of a new monohull record from Ambrose light off Sandy Hook, New Jersey to the Lizard Point on England’s southwest coast. They are chasing the record set back in 2003 by the even bigger ship Mari-Cha IV. Their time stands at 6 days 17 hours 52 minutes and 39 seconds at an average speed of 18.02 knots, kind of slow by today’s standards. Why that record has stood for so long is a mystery to ...
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