Panbo

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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MPower digital switching, the strengths of Maretron and Carling align

10 Jun

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 ...

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FloatHub, Boat Beacon and Boat Watch work with Amazon Alexa

30 May

 

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 ...

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Heat shrink solder sleeve butt connectors, great for skinny boat wires

24 May

 

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 ...

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Electronic visual distress signals: Sirius Signal (Weems & Plath) versus Orion, plus a new option

16 May

 

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 ...

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Mr T goes to sea, hopefully leaving us a safety lesson

8 May

 

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.

Boating

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Simrad, B&G, and Lowrance Link app working well with off-the-shelf WiFi router

25 Apr

 

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.

While the Netgear N600 WiFi router currently installed on Gizmo is

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