Clark Beek

Save Your Boat!: Remote Boat Monitoring and Killer Apps

7 Jan

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For Christmas our house got the Nest thermostat and smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, smart devices that connect to a smartphone app via Wi-Fi. Such devices are part of the Internet of Things, in which the electronic things in our lives communicate with us and control themselves by learning our patterns and schedules.

Upon installing the Nest smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detector, I thought hey, I could put one if these things on my boat, and as long as it’s in Wi-Fi range it would send me a warning if my boat caught fire. At $100, with a free, slick app, ...

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New Nomenclature for Lifejackets

16 Dec

Henry
After Brian Hancock’s post on life jackets, To Wear Or Not To Wear, and his subsequent Mea Culpa, it may be very dangerous to approach this subject, so I will do so carefully.

In 1973, when I was a small child, the US Coast Guard changed the nomenclature for lifejackets and created the Special Purpose Categories, categorizing them from Grade I to Grade V.

We’ve all been confused ever since.

One thing seems to be here to stay from the 1973 standard, the term Personal Flotation Device, or PFD. Before that they were lifejackets, life vests, or life preservers....

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Detailed Account of Man Who Survived 438 Days Adrift

12 Nov

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When this story first came out there was some skepticism in the press because the guy looked too healthy. Now his story has been corroborated and confirmed, and he indeed survived 438 days in a panga, drifting from Mexico to an atoll in the Marshall Islands. A professional fisherman, adrift in a fishing boat, might have found some way to survive at sea, but his crew didn’t fare so well. The story is both sad and inspiring.

Writer Jonathan Franklin has turned José Salvador Alvarenga’s account into a book, an excerpt of which is printed here, in The Guardian...

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Problems Solved: Diaphragm Bilge Pump Installation

9 Nov

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I practiced what I preached, and finally installed a diaphragm bilge pump to improve the situation in my deep and creepy bilge. I wrote about this in my bilge pump opus, All About Bilge Pumps.

The principle at play here is that the bilge pump that keeps your bilge dry may not be the same bilge pump that keeps you from sinking: Centrifugal bilge pumps, the workhorses of the bilge pump world, can’t pump all the water out and always leave an inch or more behind. To really get the water level down you need a diaphragm pump attached ...

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The Real Deal: Tom and KARAKA, and you can go too.

20 Oct

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For anyone who whines about the cost of cruising, Tom’s story is inspirational, and perhaps instructional.

First expense, a 52-foot steel ketch, $1.

What was that? Yes, Tom saved this ketch from a trip to the scrapyard, which was just days away. He found her in Hong Kong in 2004, looking neglected, with a notice on her side for removal. He tracked down the owners and they agreed to let him have her for a symbolic dollar.
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greasy

I know several people who have bought $1 boats, before I could tell them “Noooo! Don’t do it!” Tom was the former ...

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Party Boat Mishap

22 Sep

This video has been bouncing around Facebook, and the more times I watch it the more bizarre it gets. For example:

1. It appears that many of the people falling off the foredeck are naked, or at least the first guy is.
2. A man jumps from the bridge just after the people fall in, apparently to help people in the water. He appears to be wearing swim fins? Did he just happen to be wearing fins at the time?
3. There are screams and there is laughter and the footage is kind of grainy. It might be a “Funny ...

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Tesla’s Powerwall on a boat?

17 Sep

Tesla
This summer Tesla unveiled its Powerwall, a battery large enough to power an average home with a solar system, and give this home independence from the grid. Elon Musk’s announcement was met with giddy excitement, and the batteries are already sold out for the foreseeable future.

I wonder how long before a Powerwall finds its way onto a boat? Tick, tick, tick.

Crunching the numbers, it may not make economic sense yet, but the price may come down in a few years. The Powerwall, the 7 kWh version, sells for $3000. The slightly larger 10 kWh Powerpack sells for ...

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New Steering Wheel Adventure: Part 3

3 Aug

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After many deviations, diversions, and delays, the steering wheel project is finally finished (see part 1 and part 2). What started as buying a new steering wheel on Ebay turned into rebuilding the entire teak console, re-wiring much of the boat, servicing and adjusting much of the steering system (installation of the new wheel changed the geometry of things just a tad), building a new instrument panel, and all new senders on the engine to go with the new instruments.

I’ve blogged about instruments, senders, and instrument panels before (see Gauge of Confusion), but now we’ll go in ...

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Man Abandons Burning Boat to Save His Dog

13 Jul

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This is the saddest, but most heartwarming, sailing story of the year. Something tells me the sailing community is going to rally around this salty hero (but in the mean time we should respect his wishes and save the questions and Monday morning quarterbacking for later, if ever). It’s all over the news, but here it is in Mr. Kanafoski’s own words, from his public Facebook page:

As im sure you all know by now my boat and everything i owned was on there. i All my tools, clothes, identifications, green cards everything was lost. I left Apalachicola on ...

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