Panbo

U.S. Navy destroyers without physical throttles?

17 Aug

 

Touchscreen throttles on US Navy Destroyer John S McCain
Section of NTSB report explaining touchscreen throttles used on USS John S McCain

Touchscreens work well for many tasks at a boat helm (and elsewhere), I think, but a touchscreen throttle never even occurred to me until I read about the Navy “reverting to physical throttles” on warships like the USS John S McCain. Holy cow! Why the heck did we deprive destroyer drivers of the excellent (electronic) control interface known as a throttle lever, and why is Wired magazine mispresenting the “reversion”?

Helm of USS Dewey with only the throttles seen on screen
Helm of USS Dewey (DDG-105) with the only throttles seen on screen

I’d be very ...

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Made in Maine: kayak rack, winter boat frame & more

14 Aug

 

I’ve gone to the Maine Boats & Homes Show in Rockland for all 16 years (so far) and never failed to discover many things of interest. I had no idea, for instance, that a floating kayak and canoe rack even existed though it was designed and built right in my home town. And this entry includes other unique products made by very small companies in Maine that you too might want to know about.

Paddle Sport Rack prototype floating kayak & canoe rack
Paddle Sport Rack prototype floating kayak & canoe rack

I had never met Glenn Ruesswick of Paddle Sport Rack but was aware of his beautifully ...

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Using your PLB/EPIRB better & testing ACR’s ResQLink View

9 Aug

 

In this dangerous world, most types of boating are quite safe activities. But when things do go wrong afloat, getting the needed help can be a lot harder than it is ashore because of poor communications. So I was pleased to learn about an easy way to make the excellent safety communication tools known as PLBs and EPIRBs a little more effective.

The situation captured on the screen above was ACR’s Mikele D’Arcangelo briefing Ben Stein and I after their ResQLink View PLB was announced last spring. It’s a superb PLB, I think, and I’ll detail that opinion below. ...

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Dedicated Depth display, NMEA 2000 the best way?

30 Jul

 

“Traditional depth sounders” by Bill Morris at Ocean Navigator

I enjoyed this Bill Morris article at OceanNavigator.com even though he pokes fun at skippers like me. For one thing, he does it gently and well, as in this smoothly written second paragraph:

However, sailors who depend on paper charts and minimal electronics — VHF radio, hand-held GPS and a stand-alone depth sounder — are still making successful ocean passages, blissfully innocent of the compulsion, or ability, to spend big bucks on more elaborate systems.

I also agree with Bill that a dedicated depth display is a key navigation tool, ...

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Navionics Boating app AIS feature, great idea but…

24 Jul

 

AIS feature announcement at Navionics.com

Well, dang, I was steeled up to write an unusually negative entry about the AIS feature that Navionics recently added to its Boating app, but then I learned that they’re already planning virtually all the improvements that I intended to vigorously champion. So, if you too are having trouble making the WiFi connection work — or if you too are disappointed with the resulting target display — don’t worry; apparently, we just have to wait for future versions.

In the meantime, however, let’s discuss how boat data over WiFi can and should work, and ...

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Doppler radome testing tease: they’re all good

15 Jul

 

The picture tells much of the story (and you can click/zoom it much larger for the details). In rain and fog, the three 7-inch Garmin, Simrad, and Raymarine multifunction displays are each showing their respective solid-state Doppler-assisted radomes capturing well the complexity of Rockland Harbor moored vessels and shoreline while also automatically highlighting in red the most significant moving object, an incoming Maine state ferry also shown by AIS.

And I can assure you that the Furuno NXT radome that I was monitoring on a nearby iPad was doing just as good a job, arguably better. Yes, it’s taken ...

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My Garmin GPS 45 was amazing in 1994, and it still works (mostly)

8 Jul

 

Discovering that my old Garmin GPS 45 still works was especially nostalgic because Gizmo and I were returning from WoodenBoat School, one of the first places I used it 25 years ago. Many memories that far back are foggy, but it’s easy to recall how much this wonderful gadget helped me to stay safe and relaxed even when trying to teach beginners how to sail and navigate in big tides, cold water, and real fog.

This handheld also played an important role on many yacht deliveries and pleasure cruises, and while getting reacquainted with the old 45’s talents, I ...

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Raymarine LightHouse 3 calibrates Oceanic Systems tank senders, on my float mate’s boat

2 Jul

Way down the long list of new features that came with April’s LightHouse v3.9.46 for Raymarine Axiom MFDs is “Tank naming and Sender Calibration” and it turns out that means NMEA 2000 tank senders made by Oceanic Systems. Which is a semi-big deal because a significant disappointment of N2K is that while many standard data PGNs are truly plug-and-play across brands, sensor calibration is usually not. What’s more, I learned about this from my friend and Camden Harbor float mate Jud Sawyer, and I got to attend the semi-exciting proceeding.



I sometimes thank Jud on behalf of the marine ...

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Garmin and Lowrance both about to launch trolling motors

24 Jun

 

Electric trolling motors have already become highly capable and also often well integrated with some major brand multifunction display systems. But, dang, it looks like the technology is about to experience a major growth spurt when both Lowrance and Garmin introduce their own models at the ICAST fishing show starting on July 9.

In March, Lowrance started teasing its new motor with a YouTube video — sign up for July 9 details here — and then news of the Garmin Force trolling motor got “accidentally” leaked in May when a fishing pro made his first Facebook Live video. ...

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Cruisair AC unit extraction, quality Wera tools helped

18 Jun

 

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 ...

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