Boats and Gear

The Yachts of SF Bay

7 Jul

As seen in Marin Magazine, July, 2014

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 ...

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GARCIA PASSOA 47: French Metal Surfboard

1 Jul

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 ...

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Gizmo 2014, glass bridge shakedown cruising #1

30 Jun

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 ...

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Raymarine 2014: science, cadence & “IReverywhere!”

25 Jun

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 ...

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Hand’s on Scanstrut Rokk adjustable mount & 2nd generation Lifedge iPad case

18 Jun

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 ...

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Lenovo Windows tablet, new MFD accessory or primary plotter?

11 Jun

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

Digital_Yacht_SmarterTrack_on_Lenovo_MiiX_2_aPanbo.jpgI first heard of the Lenovo Miix 2 when Digital Yacht dubbed it a “best buy for boaters”; besides a low price of about $220, the 8-inch tablet is purportedly bright, fast, and able to run regular Windows navigation programs like DY’s own SmarterTrack. While an internal GPS enables standalone navigation, the DY team mainly envisions the tablet as a second station using NMEA 0183 or 2000 boat data (like the AIS seen above), provided over WiFi by one of its many black box hardware ...

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New Raymarine a9, a12 & gS19 — aboard the mighty Raymariner

9 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 9, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Raymarine_a9_gS19_a12_aPanbo.jpgRaymarine recently announced three new multifunction displays, extending the multitouch aSeries to 9- and 12-inch screen sizes, and the glass bridge gS Series to 19 inches (the proportions of my collage are approximate). Given four additional a9 and a12 models with digital sounder or Chirp DownVision built in and the fact that all these new MFDs can network with all the aSeries, cSeries (non touch), eSeries (hybrid touch), and gS models already available, is any other manufacturer offering so much choice? They all run the ...

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OPEN 60 REFIT: Great American IV Ready to Sail

9 Jun

Brian Harris on GA4

While dropping in occasionally at Maine Yacht Center over the winter to keep tabs on my own boat, I always had half an eyeball on Rich Wilson’s new IMOCA Open 60, Great American IV (ex-Mirabaud), which was undergoing a refit for Wilson’s 2016 Vendee Globe bid. Recently, MYC general manager Brian Harris (see photo up top) gave me a nickel tour and told me about all the work they’d done.

I gather, as big race-boat refits go, this was a relatively modest one. Here’s the run-down:

Complete electrical refit, including all power storage and generating ...

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On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electronics

6 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 6, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Alan_Watson_on board_HMS_Medusa.JPGThere’s much to report about my three day visit with Raymarine’s impressive product development team, but the impromptu kicker was a visit to HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launch) #1387, and the vessel’s key story couldn’t be more timely. 70 years ago yesterday, well before D-Day H-Hour, 1387 headed toward Normandy loaded with electronics that helped her crew precisely mark the planned final channel to Omaha Beach, first for the minesweepers and then for the vast fleet of landing craft that left Portsmouth behind her. And today ...

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Inmarsat Fleet One, affordable FleetBroadband for real?

2 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Sailor_Inmarsat_Fleet_One_system_aPanbo.jpgBoaters looking for a reliable, moderately fast satellite Internet connection for light and/or occasional use have learned to be leery of Inmarsat. When FleetBroadband came out in 2009 — particularly the FB150 model with its easily installed 13.5-inch stabilized antenna — it seemed like a reasonably affordable option for bluewater cruising. This promise was confirmed in a terriffic Panbo review series conducted by Gram Schweikert as his family sailed from Maine to New Zealand with both KVH FB150 and Iridium OpenPort antennas mounted on the spreaders...

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