Boats and Gear

Navionics Boating app, now with free U.S. charts!

29 May

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

Navionics_Boating_app_v7_w_US_Gov_chart_cPanbo.jpgThis is a significant surprise. Version 7.0 of the free Navionics Boating app released today for iPad and iPhone includes the ability to download and use NOAA vector charts, as seen above. Meanwhile, if you already own a Navionics Marine app for iOS, there’s a 7.0 update available which adds “Gov Charts” and the same feature will soon come to Android versions of both the Boating and Marine apps. Navigators who already use Navionics charts on a tablet or phone may find it useful to have ...

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Little Freda, Mighty Kelpie: Back from the Edge

29 May

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 29, 2014

Many a 21st century boatman who would never own a woodie will nevertheless spend hours admiring their beauty. I was a younger man when I wrote, “A wooden boat has an aura, and perhaps a soul, that cannot be created on the production line.” I stand by that. And so it is a pleasure to see the renewals, right now, of two great wooden sailing yachts, one from the 19th century, one from the 20th.



She launches Saturday without a rig, but Freda will be back

She re-launches Saturday without a rig, but Freda will be back

Built on the shores of San ...

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Installing Silentwind: power projects aboard

27 May
Silentwind install instructions

This could be the shortest post ever, because installing the Silentwind wind generator was a non-event.

Silentwind install

Silentwind install
The instructions were easy to follow.

It took three hours, including decommissioning our old turbine and installing Silentwind.

It worked immediately.


Ease of installation (and instant gratification!) matter to us because of the sharp contrast with our prior wind turbine installation experience. In 2009, it took more than six months for the AirBreeze we purchased from Southwest Windpower to function. The details are on a post Jamie made to Cruiser’s Forum; suffice to say it was a drawn out, frustrating experience hampered ...

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CHEEKI RAFIKI: Hull Found Again, Post Mortem

26 May

Cheeki hull again

The fate of the four crew members aboard Cheeki Rafiki was confirmed on Friday when the U.S. Navy again found the overturned keel-less hull and inspected it closely enough to determine that its liferaft was still onboard. So with much drama and angst and effort we have at least confirmed what the U.S. Coast Guard initially surmised when it first suspended its search for survivors. I don’t think the effort was wasted or useless. Given the enormous interest in the fate of these four men, I think it was well worth it to achieve closure on that point.

I would ...

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Gizmo’s Ocean Armor topsides & Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom, the testing begins

24 May

Written by Ben Ellison on May 24, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_5-2014_Ocean_Armor_topsides_cPanbo.jpgCheck out the evening gleam on Gizmo’s flared bow. I think it’s impressive for a gelcoat surface that’s seen a lot of weather over 14 years and better yet, the pros who applied the “nano polymer wax replacement” were also impressed. There’s more detail on the new coating called Ocean Armor Pro Maxi All Gloss further along in this entry and also my experience with an initial application of Pettit HydroCoat Eco bottom paint, which seems like another winner so far…


You may recall that I ...

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Sparking Young Minds, and the un-Young TooEducational Tall Ships

22 May

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 22, 2014

Photo by Jerry Soto

Photo by Jerry Soto

Here’s a stat: In the ports of the USA there are 200 educational training vessels. Some of them can be called tall ships. Others are just out there, doing good work.

More are on the way.

The superb Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a full-sized, fully functional, and historically-accurate-to-the-best-of-their-knowledge replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Building it, appropriately enough, at Spanish Landing Park alongside North Harbor Drive. Traveling between Shelter Island and Lindbergh Field, you surely wouldn’t fail to notice . . .

There’s still ...

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Quality NMEA 2000 cabling, the eBay way

20 May

Written by Ben Ellison on May 20, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

eBay NMEA 2000 Turck JBBS cPanbo.jpgI’m not sure whether to thank or curse the Panbo reader who got me hunting for NMEA 2000 cabling equipment on eBay. There is a thrill to picking up a $290 Turck JBSS 57-811 DeviceNet multi-port junction box for about $35 to $45 with shipping (and there seem to plenty left here, here, and here). It’s beautifully made — fully potted with nickle-plated brass connectors and gold-plated brass contacts, plus a built-in voltage indicator — and it can definitely be a useful part ...

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Choosing a wind generator: power projects aboard

17 May

Increasing energy produced from wind and sun are part of our ongoing power projects on Totem. Silentwind was a clear standout from the available options, with the two key benefits we wanted: more power, and QUIET. The cool blue blades? Bonus. But let me back up a little… there’s more to the story.

When we purchased Totem in 2007, there were 300 watts of solar panels installed on an arch at the transom. During our early cruising days In Pacific Mexico, we had fewer than five days of rain over nearly a year and a half—the perfect place for solar! ...

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ABANDONING BE GOOD TOO: The Builder Responds

16 May

Alpha 42 under sail

Back when I published my blog post about abandoning the Alpha 42 Be Good Too in January, I told Gregor Tarjan, president of Aeroyacht, builder of the boat, that I would publish in full any statement he cared to make about the incident. He declined at that time, but he has decided to make a statement in response to the story about the incident (which I also wrote) that has appeared in the current print edition of SAIL.


by Gregor Tarjan, designer of the Aeroyacht ALPHA 42 catamaran BEE ...

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Changing transducers — “So you have a 5200 problem?”

16 May

Written by Ben Ellison on May 16, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I’m tentatively proud of Gizmo’s 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and “mistakes were made” during the replacement phase, but I’m fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward ...

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