Ben Stein

An update on internet options, strong cellular and variable WiFi results

12 Apr


My family and I have been back living and traveling aboard Have Another Day for about nine months now.  Our boat is a huge consumer of bandwidth so I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.   Here’s an update and some tips on what we’re doing to maintain reliable connectivity.


Last fall Verizon started offering a $65 truly unlimited prepaid rate plan that I quickly jumped on, also purchasing the cheap MHS900L Jetpack mobile hotspot pictured above.  Let’s just say it wasn’t even worth the $50 I paid for it; several commenters on the initial article ...

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Testing Blue Guard’s BG-One oil detecting bilge pump switch

10 Apr


In the last six months Blue Guard Innovations’ BG-One Smart Bilge Pump Switch with Oil and Fuel Detector racked up new product awards, winning an IBEX Innovations Award, a SAIL magazine Pittman Award, and a DAME design award Special Mention. So it’s great to have one now installed on Have Another Day, and so far I’m liking both its performance and the amount of information it provides.

The $220 Blue Guard BG-One can prevent your boat from pumping out oil and fuel that might be floating on top of water in your bilge, and it’s also highly configurable, ...

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Dockmate wireless docking remote, life is easier with a remote control

3 Apr

Dockmate Twin on the left and Twist on the right

Many times I’ve wished I could step away from Have Another Day‘s helm but still control the engines from a better vantage point, or from where I want to handle a line. So it was great when Dockmate U.S. representatives came to Gulfport, FL to install their wireless remote system for me to review. In this entry, I’ll describe the system and my experiences with using it so far, which have been positive.

The System

The Dockmate receiver installed under Have Another Day’s upper helm

Dockmate is new to ...

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SiriusXM InfoLink, new features and lower priced SiriusXM weather receivers

27 Mar

The new receiver on display at the Miami International Boat Show in February

SiriusXM Marine Weather on your boat is getting cheaper and likely to get more capable in the near future.  Furuno and Raymarine have both recently released new SiriusXM weather and audio receivers at very attractive price points.  The two receivers look very similar and it turns out there’s a very good reason.

Previously, SiriusXM provided core modules to their marine weather partners — Furuno, Garmin, Navico, and Raymarine — which those partners used to build their own finished satellite receiver products.  Now, SiriusXM is working with a ...

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Aqua Map Master adds AIS, WiFi instrument data, USACE surveys and route explorer

20 Mar

Aqua Map has added a premium tier called Aqua Map Master that adds AIS overlays, data via NMEA-0183 and SignalK over WiFi, US Army Corp of Engineers survey data overlayed over charts and a new route explorer.   With Master, Aqua Map adds several features I haven’t seen on any other mobile app that I’m excited to try out.

Aqua Map Master is a $10 per year subscription that Aqua Map says will get all their new premium features.  Aqua Map already has a nice suite of features including support for both Waterway Guide and Active Captain Community crowdsourced data, a ...

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Information display and Ship Control, hands on with next generation boat management interfaces

10 Mar


Controlling the multitude of systems on modern boats can be complex and many modern boaters expect the same level of automation and convenience they find in their cars.   It’s clear the industry has realized this and is working hard to develop systems that make controlling your boat simpler and more intuitive.  I had the opportunity to try out two such systems at the Miami International Boat Show: Navico Information Display (ID) on the new Sea Ray 350 SLX-R and Prestige’s Ship Control aboard a Prestige 460 Fly.  While these systems vary in several meaningful ways they both give an ...

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Full duplex wireless headsets, truly marriage savers

1 Mar


I’ve often heard wireless headsets referred to as marriage savers but before cruising full time I didn’t realize the accuracy of the nickname.  Now after several years of regular use, I wouldn’t want to cruise without them.  But there are multiple brands and types of headsets, and two we’ve used extensively each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Before getting into the details, I’ll explain when the headsets became important to us. Early on, it was fairly easy to tie up at our home slip in Chicago with dock lines preset and a well-understood plan, and unfamiliar docks were ...

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Weego Crankenstein, serious jumpstart pack with 24v capabilities

25 Feb

Weego’s Crankenstein is the first lithium chemistry jumpstarter under $1,000 that can start large 24v diesel engines, and its intuitive display with multiple powering options are noteworthy features that will hopefully come to more modestly priced designs.  My testing started in an unusual way and while my first test turned out not to be a big diesel it did offer a nice glimpse of the 9-pound, 12x6x8 inch Crankenstein’s always ready design.

As I left the St. Pete Beach post office where I picked up the C-154 Crankenstein ($699 list price) I saw the car behind me had their hood ...

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GPS date rollover affects older GPS units

22 Feb

On April 6th, 2019 older GPS units may experience a range of problems because of a limitation in how they handle dates.  Thos problems could include not being able to receive location data.  It turns out the way dates are stored in older GPS units has a rollover event every roughly 20 years and we are about to experience the second one since the GPS constellations came online.  The rollover last happened in 1999 but in the last 20 years, the use and dependence on GPS has increased dramatically.

The Department of Homeland Security has published a bulletin on the ...

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Raymarine and Mercury’s preview of semi-autonomous docking assist

5 Feb


For many of us docking maneuvers are the most stressful part of boating. So engine manufacturers, electronics companies and boat builders have introduced systems like integrated joystick control and dynamic positioning to make the task easier. Last Friday I got hand’s on with a new technology from Raymarine and Mercury Marine that takes docking assistance to a new level. They call it Virtual Bumper and I can attest that it lets you dock like a pro, even if you’re not.

With Virtual Bumper you still drive the boat, but 3D cameras are monitoring the situation in all directions and ...

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