VIKING’s remarkable 800+ person LifeCraft system, Torqeedo powered

9 Apr


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 ...

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Actisense NMEA 2000 cables & connectors, plus network design tips

1 Apr


If you need a small NMEA 2000 network, Actisense’s all-in-one 4 Way at upper left is an especially simple and rugged way to go.  In fact, it includes all the components seen in their starter kit at right and the resulting network is a bit better as it will offer four female N2K connectors for drop cables to devices like plotters and sensors while one of the starter kit’s four connectors will be occupied by the power drop.

On the other hand, the Actisense RIB Starter Kit is a better choice if the N2K network backbone ever needs to ...

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A Marine Installer’s Rant golden oldie: “High Maintenance”

15 Mar


Editor — Are you too missing Bill Bishop’s wry take on the world of marine electronics? Or perhaps you never even stumbled on his Marine Installer’s Rant?  Well, it’s intriguing that Bill is deep into writing a novel; there are still many relevant entries at the Rant; and Panbo is very pleased to republish a golden oldie:

High Maintenance

From: Bill Bishop
Date: Monday 21 August 2014
To: John Rhoades
Subject: Invoice

Dear John, I gather you’re upset about the invoice to replace the oil pressure sender on your boat’s generator, although it was hard to understand ...

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Shakespeare inflatable emergency VHF antenna, smart design with 3dB

14 Mar


That’s Shakespeare Marine Electronics manager Bill Eastwood hamming it up with their just-announced inflatable VHF antennas at METS last November, and the grin is well deserved as the product had just won the DAME Award for the Safety category. In fact, I was the DAME judge who got to pull the cord to inflate the sample — worked like a charm — and I think we were all impressed with how rigid it became. The antenna also received a SAIL magazine 2019 Pittman Innovation Award, for which I also serve on the editorial panel.

I have not ...

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Victron Connect, why Bluetooth configuration can make so much sense

6 Mar



There are many reasons to like Victron solar panel charge controllers, but today I’ll laud the Bluetooth feature that comes with the relatively new SmartSolar models and could make sense in many electronic boat modules and sensors, I think.

First, let’s note that the SmartSolar 100/30 above costs about $226 online while the BlueSolar 100/30 goes for about $196, and the only significant difference is the Bluetooth. So Victron is apparently able to add the wireless radio and the Victron Connect app integration for small money (and is rapidly adding “Smart” to many of its formerly plain Blue ...

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Innovative electronics like Navico ID hardly mentioned, a new paradigm?

19 Feb

What is arguably the most innovative electronics system in recent times debuted at the Miami boat show and very few people noticed! I’m talking specifically about the Navico Information Display that was purportedly integrated into the dashboards of some 14 new boats around the show, but there may well have been similar new integrations going on that even an obsessive marine electronics journalist is not aware of.

While the phrase “new paradigm” seems overused and often misunderstood, I think we’re looking at the real deal as the familiar model of how boat electronics are developed and marketed submerges behind ...

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Winter boat, with help from Victron, Maretron, and FloatHub

13 Feb


Ben Stein is already in Miami working as an Innovations Award judge and I look forward to his reporting as I man the news desk here in Maine. Today, though, I’ll discuss some of the monitoring tools helping to keep Gizmo safe in winter conditions like the easterly gale that blew about ten inches of snow onto Camden last night.

Victron remote control on Android phone 2-13-19

The newest monitoring equipment being tested on Gizmo is a Victron Venus connected to their latest BMV 712 Smart and the MultiPlus inverter/charger I installed in 2012. Victron loaned me the ...

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E-Tech electric boat motors, used and distributed by Maine Cat

8 Feb


When I wrote enthusiastically about the then-new Maine Cat MC 38 in 2016, my only reservation was the gasoline outboards (though MC has used them on other sailing cat models for years). But then again, the lightweight, low drag 38 design seemed perfect for ever-improving electric propulsion and twin drives should give it reliable and excellent maneuverability around docks.

So I’ve followed closely as builder/designer Dick Vermeulen pursued an electric solution, and while that’s been a somewhat bumpy road, there are now two interesting stories in progress:  Maine Cat recently became the E-Tech distributor for North America and several ...

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Helm ergonomics, Steve Dashew style

30 Jan


Cochise is certainly eye-catching, and especially so when you realize that you’re looking at the personal cruising “dream machine” of a remarkably innovative designer, engineer, and mariner with hundreds of thousands of offshore miles under sail and power. Fortunately, Steve Dashew is also an outstanding photographer and a motivated blogger, so you too can learn about the evolution of his FPB (Friggin Power Boat) series in deep detail at

But you may also notice that the Dashews announced their retirement from FPB building in September 2017 (while also posting a grand photo history of their half-century afloat ...

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My Walker taffrail log, designed centuries ago and still working

16 Jan


I certainly agree with DownEast magazine’s choice for a top 10 iconic Maine image. Heck, I still remember relishing this photo of Captain Lincoln Colcord grinning his way around the Cape of Good Hope at the turn of the 19th century when I first visited the Penobscot Marine Museum about 72 years later. And the underlying story is bigger than any state.

Beyond the obvious thrill of fast reaching toward an Asian cargo port helped by big winds and seas, Capt. Colcord was racing against the steam engines that were fast ending his way of life — this ...

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