Bilge pump switches, tough boats, and safe 2020 wishes to all

1 Jan


“NO ELECTRONICS” as a product feature? Is that where we’re at as the decades turn? But I also deduced evidence that these new-to-me USS Ultra bilge pump switches actually are ultra reliable. Despite premium pricing, the excellent marine chandlery in Rockland keeps plenty of Ultras in stock, and so they’re probably installed on some of the many nearby commercial vessels. Which especially includes the growing fleet of tough, handsome, and well-equipped offshore lobster boats that I’d like to tell you about.

USS Ultra bilge pump switches at Hamilton Marine
USS Ultra bilge pump switches at Hamilton Marine in Rockland, Maine

I somehow missed them, but USS Ultra ...

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CRASH AND CAPSIZE: Team New Zealand Flips Their Foiling AC75

20 Dec

Dec. 20/2019:  Someone had to do it first! And the Kiwis certainly seem pretty laid back about the whole business. This happened yesterday. Watch the viddy the team posted and you’ll see it was actually a fairly undramatic event. Their boat Te Aihe had completed a jibe and was flying its hull in about 10 knots of true wind, moving at around 30 knots, when the boat suddenly reared up, then fell down again, landing safely upright on its hull. Then, oddly, she just slowly rolled over to leeward, in spite of her windward keel and foil being fully canted ...

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ScanStrut Rokk Wireless phone charging, testing the first generation

17 Dec


The Scanstrut Rokk Wireless charging pad I tested practically disappears under my phone, and obviously there’s no USB charging wire involved either. But that’s the idea, and there’s even a model that I could have completely hidden under that varnished cherry surface, or the similar  counter at Gizmo’s pilothouse helm. Just put the phone down in the right spot and charging happens!

I was new to wireless charging and this was a nice place to start. Scanstrut is the only company on earth developing waterproof 12/24v wireless chargers for boats, to my knowledge, and their various Rokk Wireless models...

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The Joy of Sailing

17 Dec
Sailing Rich Wilson’s IMOCA 60

Yes I know the title is a bit of a play on the title of another well known book, but there really is so much joy to be had from sailing and sometimes it’s hard to express just how much sailing means to us. I tried to do so in an essay I wrote a few years ago and I am sharing it with you here in part to celebrate sailing as well as to celebrate the holiday season. Also, to be perfectly honest I am also using this as a bit of self-promotion (which ...

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Reflections from Shore: Ben’s Story P. 1

16 Dec

A sunny shakedown sail after relocating ISBJORN to Annapolis Harbor! Photo by James Austrums (2019)

A sunny shakedown sail after relocating ISBJORN to Annapolis Harbor! Photo by James Austrums (2019)

November 30th, 2019

Today I said goodbye to an abbreviated 59 North family – Andy, Mia, August, Emma, Ben & Jenni. All of them will be greeting new crew today at 5pm, except for Ben who will fly back to Bainbridge Island with his young family. I too will be going my own way – which feels exciting but strange after spending four months eating, sleeping, wearing, sweating and bleeding 59 North! 

My name is Ben Soofer, or Andy is fond of calling me, ‘Liz ...

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Aqua Map Version 20, fast scrolling and new features

12 Dec


Aqua Map 20 showing the Port Everglades inlet with ACOE surveys, satellite images, and gauge data from WiFi

Aqua Map has already established itself as an excellent app for boaters supplying valuable data at your fingertips. But one weakness has been the relatively slow rendering of charts. This made scrolling slower than you would like, but now Aqua Map is out with version 20 and an all new charting engine. The result? Lightning fast scrolling and several nice updates to make one of the leading navigation apps even better.

Aqua Map version 20 with satellite images set to about
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Sailing Stories Season Four // Rachel Slade’s ‘Into the Raging Sea’

10 Dec



Season 4 of Sailing Stories features Into the Raging Sea, the gripping and tragic story of “Thirty-three mariners, one megastorm, and the sinking of EL FARO,written by Rachel Slade.

This is a special season for us, supported by Nanny Cay Marina in the BVI, 59 North’s ‘homeport’ in the Caribbean, and made possible by the enthusiasm of the book’s author, Rachel Slade, and the ‘outside the box’ thinking of her publishers at Harper Collins who agreed to let us run the audio on Sailing Stories.

The season will release Thursday, December 5, with the first ...

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Garmin GPSMap 86sci: inReach, GPS and a plethora of tools for boaters

10 Dec


The Garmin GPSMAp 86 family is a powerhouse of communications and connectivity. The dizzying array of technology inside this handheld provides two-way satellite messaging, GPS chart plotting, and integrations with many onboard electronics, all in a compact, weather-resistant, floating case. The marriage of a marine GPS unit with inReach satellite messaging could be the perfect tool for boaters. Can this many capabilities work in one little package? Read on to find out.

The GPSMap 86 series replaces a few products in Garmin’s product line. It serves as both the update to the venerable GPSMap 78 and the inReach Explorer+...

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#282: Liz Wardley // MAIDEN Skipper

10 Dec

#282. Liz Wardley has never NOT been a professional racing skipper. Getting her first taste of sailing at age 13 on a Hobie Cat, she was instantly hooked. At 15, she convinced her parents to let her drop out of school, and by 18 she was racing in the Sydney-Hobart race. Since then she’s done 3 Volvo Ocean Races and is aiming for another in next year’s event. Currently, Liz is skippering the famous Whitbread yacht MAIDEN, and working closely with founder Tracy Edwards to fulfill the goals of The MAIDEN Factor as they sail around the world with an ...

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Victron Cerbo GX, good AC/DC power monitoring gets better

6 Dec

Victron introduced Cerbo GX and GX Touch 50 at METS

The existing Victron Venus GX and Color Control GX are both excellent AC/DC power monitoring products in my estimation, but with many boat systems it’s hard to decide which one to use. While the Venus blue box is less expensive with more networking capabilities, none of its display and control abilities are as fast and easy as the CCGX’s screen and button interface. I’m happy to report that this purchasing dilemma will end next year with the new Cerbo GX and GX Touch 50, and valuable additional GX features are ...

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