eToys: hydrofoil ebike versus efoil boards

17 Jan


Yes, there’s now a pedal-assisted hydrofoiling water bike. And it certainly deserves consideration as I contemplate new toys for the garage of my fantasy expedition megayacht. But while that research left me skeptical about how enjoyable the foiling ebike design really is, some related poking around the dynamic world of powered foiling boards — commonly called efoils — definitely perked up some deep winter hours.

The Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1 purports to “replicate the cycling experience on water” and it can now be preordered for spring delivery at the $7,490 introductory price. XE-1 demos were offered to the press at ...

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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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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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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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Return Link Service, a major PLB & EPIRB improvement

26 Nov


Many of us carry an EPIRB or PLB satellite distress beacon for worst-case emergencies at sea, and while they’ve earned an excellent success record, they also have a nerve-racking drawback. The rare boater who actually activates one will not know if the distress message was received until the search and rescue heroes actually show up. Or don’t show up! But that intensely tense uncertainty is about to change thanks to a newly revealed technology called the Return Link Service (RLS).

Orolia introduced Return Link Service at METS with a big blinking blue light to suggest how the small blue ...

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NOAA will sunset traditional nautical charts, sad but inevitable

16 Nov


NOAA will stop updating charts that look like this, paper and electronic, by 2025 or sooner
NOAA will no longer update charts that look like this, paper and electronic, by 2025 or sooner

Things are just things, right, and they don’t really die. But during a recent conference call with Capt Chris van Westendorp, Marine Chart Chief John Nyberg and several their colleagues at NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, a genuine feeling of grief bubbled up within me. And since I can’t keep my mouth shut, I learned that some of our “Nation’s Nautical Chartmakers” are also feeling it. The demise of the traditional chart is going to be sad for many of us, no ...

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Inside the DAME Design Awards, and a lovely TBS Electronics battery switch

14 Nov

METSTRADE opens next week at the huge RAI Amsterdam Convention Center, which also owns the show. I again look forward to joining a global crowd of marine equipment folks amidst a forest of manufacturer stands and other exhibits. But actually I already spend two October days in a RAI warehouse with fellow jurors carefully examining an interesting selection of new gear, and the goal of this entry is to shed some light on the DAME Design Awards choices that resulted.

Of course, the winners must remain confidential until the show-opening breakfast event, but the 2019 Nominees are already announced ...

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Snagging lobster pots & a DIY hookah solution

5 Nov


With winter setting in fast, it’s nice to remember summer, even a cruising hassle like snarling lobster trap gear around Gizmo’s running gear. During my 48 years in Maine waters, the catch has increased from 20 to 120 million pounds and the pot buoy systems have gotten significantly tougher; so snagging one has become much more of a hazard. But the grin above is not just because I’d finally cut away this particular mess; I think I’ve found a reliable snarl solution that will even work out in the remote Maine islands that lobsters, lobstermen, and cruisers all appreciate....

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Kobelt Vitals: a new sensing, monitoring, and gateway powerhouse

29 Oct


Long Maretron experience has taught me that the key benefit of boat monitoring is not screens of sensor readings, though they can be useful; it’s warnings and alarms. Done right — which is not easy — they can help a boat operate longer without major issues, but with a more relaxed operator. So I’m pleased to report that the new Kobelt Vitals offers similarly sophisticated alerting in a freshly thought-out, reasonably priced, and very flexible design that may be just right for many mid-size vessels.

The heart of Vitals is the 6700 Vessel System Monitoring & Smart Alarm Device...

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DC-DC chargers, Victron introduces Orion TR Smart series

21 Oct


I just recently developed an interest in DC-to-DC battery charging and — bada bing — Victron introduces a whole series with the “Smart” Bluetooth configuration feature I’ve greatly appreciated in two of their other power components. But DC/DC is an unfamiliar technology for me, so I’m hoping readers will help out with possible misunderstandings, though even I can detect some confusing nomenclature and product naming.

An Orion-Tr DC-DC converter is not a charger (and not "smart")
An Orion-Tr DC-DC converter is not a charger (and not “smart”)

For instance, Victron already offers numerous DC/DC products — most named Orion, and several Orion-Tr — but they are all converters, not chargers. ...

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