How different are boats, boaters, how we boat, and where we boat? On the very day that Ben Stein despaired about Have Another Day’s South Florida air conditioning addiction, I proudly humped this old Cruisair AC unit off Gizmo with no replacement plan. While I think that not needing AC is a feature of our cold-water marina-free cruising style, the sense of accomplishment actually arose from a challenging extraction process. And that would have been much harder without some particular hand tools that may be useful to a wide variety of boaters.
First I’ll explain the problem. I’m fairly... Read More
The Maretron MPower 12 Channel DC Load Module that’s slowly rolling out this year may look like just another darn black box, but it’s a watershed product in my estimation. If you’re a technical dealer, a custom builder, or a savvy DIY boat owner already familiar with Maretron’s vast monitoring ecosystem, you’ll get impressive yet inexpensive distributed power and digital switching capabilities that integrate well with a system you may already service or own.
Moreover, MPower also marks the company’s consolidation with much larger Carling Technologies, which intends to grow what is now the Maretron brand with additional resources, significant ... Read More
You may realize that Amazon’s “smart assistant” Alexa is like Apple’s Siri, except that you can ask “her” questions through an Echo speaker instead of an iPhone. But did you know that some marine app developers have created Alexa skills as free and possibly useful features? The underlying technology is awesome, but you don’t have to know much to make it work.
First, play the video above to hear what’s possible. Given that FloatHub boat monitoring is already on my boat and a little Echo Spot on my office desk, all I had to do was follow ... Read More
The small gauge wire connections usually required when installing NMEA 0183 data sharing often fail because normal boat wiring techniques don’t work well at this scale — or at least not in my clumsy DIY hands. So I was intrigued at first sight with this relatively new type of heat shrink butt connector that uses low-temperature solder instead of a crimping sleeve, and so far I’m quite impressed with the results.
The three skinny wire splices above may not look neat and tidy, but I’m confident that they’ll hold up to a lot of abuse. And the heat shrink ... Read More
In 2015 I enjoyed testing, and then enthusing about, the first electronic distress signal that could effectively and legally replace the flares required on most of our boats by the US Coast Guard. Hot flares always struck me as a dangerous way to seek help, they are distinctly unpopular with the folks who protect our environment, and their short lifespan is a boating hassle.
Now the original SOS C-1001 “LED flare” I wrote about — designed and engineered by Sirius Signal, and currently distributed by Weems & Plath — has competition from Orion Safety, the company that ... Read More
I was on Sombrero Beach in Marathon, Florida, yesterday when the loggerhead sea turtle known as Mr. T was released into the ocean after several months recuperating from a torn lung (probably caused by a high-speed boat hit). It was easy to presume his joy — he powered flipped the last few feet of beach without hesitation — and the high emotion of the crowd was both undeniable and very special. Just look at the faces of the fellow boating writers who had just helped the Turtle Hospital staff to lift Mr. T out of his travel tray.
This was a nice surprise. It used to be tricky to connect a Navico MFD Ethernet network with a consumer-style boat router — and it remains impossible with some MFD models I’m pretty sure. But that’s exactly what’s happening on Gizmo right now, even with older Simrad NSS evo2 MFDs, and the benefits are multifold. I’m also pleased with the latest version of the Navico Link app, which is seen running fine over the boat router above and which is also compatible with many B&G and Lowrance displays.
Behold the Victron “app” now running on the Simrad NSS7 evo2 that I’ve been long testing on Gizmo. Now I can see all sorts of power data on a bright MFDs at the helms, and I can even use the integration to control the boat’s Victron Multi charger/inverter or configure many of the power system components. And this valuable feature only required some software updates and an Ethernet adapter cable.
beta test Victron app running on Simrad NSS16 evo2
In fact, I’m running a beta version Victron Venus software, and I don’t usually write about beta testing, ... Read More
When the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Virgin Islands charged Rick Smith with “seaman’s manslaughter” last fall, it kicked off months of press coverage and a fire hose of sailor opinions about what exactly happened onboard Smith’s yawl Cimarron that led to the death of David Pontious, and whether Smith did a proper job as captain.
But the incident seemed fairly mysterious to me — and without any particular safety lessons — until I read THE TRAGEDY OF DAVID PONTIOUS: Did a Scopolamine Patch Drive Him to Suicide? by Charles Doane. I think it’s must-reading for all of us ... Read More
Viking Life-Saving Equipment has designed an almost frightening number of innovations into its LifeCraft system, so it’s good to see that it apparently tested fine in North Sea waves ranging from 12 to 15 feet with 33-foot peaks (gCaptain has more testing details here). The system may soon make big cruise ships safer, and perhaps some of the technology will work its way down to recreational vessels.
The big LifeCraft idea is to combine the compactness and seaworthiness of a liferaft with the self-propelled maneuverability of a lifeboat, and a key enabling technology is Torqeedo electric ... Read More