A Camden boat grounding dissected, can crowdsourcing help?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 18, 2016

aground_in_Camden_mooring_field_blurred_cPanbo.jpgThe identities of the yacht and its operators are irrelevant. But how did they go hard aground in a highly used harbor during a clear summer day? Was it just a dumb mistake or was a lack of chart detail partially to blame? Should the USCG or the town of Camden better mark the danger? Did marine electronics somehow contribute to what was at least an embarrassing incident? Can crowdsourced data help? I'm not sure about the answers but I have assembled a lot of information for discussion...

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Articulating display pods tested: SeaView, ScanStrut & NavPod

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 8, 2016

Gizmo_Glass_Bridge_II_August_2016_cPanbo.jpgThe latest multifunction displays (MFDs) look smashing on Gizmo's flybridge, I like to think. And it's not just that Raymarine, Simrad, Furuno, and Garmin -- that's the lineup, left to right -- have almost all further evolved the black glass style that promises to be with us for a long time. Those two articulating pods also contribute to the clean look, plus they make it easier for me to use the podded MFDs from different spots on the bridge. It's time to discuss the SeaView, ScanStrut and NavPod articulating pods I've tried in the last few years...

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Testing Furuno DRS4D-NXT solid-state Doppler radome, "Radar Redefined" most definitely

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 2, 2016

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After many hours testing a NXT radome on Gizmo in often busy Maine waters, I believe that Furuno's bold "Radar Redefined" claim is completely justified. This radar is so smart that it makes sense to run it in broad daylight. Brightly highlighting the one vessel (above) moving toward me in Camden Harbor's forest of moored and moving boats is just one example of its highly automated and intelligent features. I fear that many readers will suffer radar jealousy as I detail what I've seen so far, but let's look at the bright side and honor Furuno for setting a significantly new performance bar that other major manufacturers will hopefully try hard to attain...

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Summer fun: Camden, Panbots & Gizmo

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 27, 2016

yachts_RH3_and_RH4_special_opps_style_lr_cPanbo.jpgHave we reached the era when "special ops" makes sense as a superyacht style? I joke, but RH3 would be pretty imposing even if it weren't cruising Maine in company with the all-black, dual jet drive, 40-foot-plus RH4. Given the two other substantial black tenders on the boat deck -- and lord knows what's in the hidden arms lockers (ok, I'm fantasizing, but armament is a seriously untold big yacht story) -- this team seems ready to fend off a serious bad guy attack or invade a small island nation...

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NOAA introduces Zones of Confidence; mind your ZOC

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 18, 2016

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Yikes! Did you know that some areas of the U.S. coastal chart you're using may only show land and bottom features accurate in position to +/- 1,600 feet, and you shouldn't be confident about the depth soundings either? NOAA has a new way to show boaters how old and inaccurate much of its survey data is, and it will surely give pause to those who pay attention. The concept is called Zones of Confidence and it's slowly rolling out as diagrams on paper-style raster charts like the one above, but the ZOC accuracy info is coming much faster to NOAA's ENC vector charts, and apparently it could be made easily accessible on the commercial vector charts you're probably using.

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Good instrument news: Garmin gWind Wireless 2 and Raymarine i70s

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 9, 2016

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Mount the new Garmin gWind Wireless 2 transducer on your masthead, plug the GNX Wind display into your NMEA 2000 network and -- badda bing, badda boom -- your sailboat has quality networked wind data that hardly uses any power and retails for $900 bundled. And if you already have a Garmin GPSMAP 7400/7600 or 8400/8600 chartplotter series, you don't even need the GNX Wind to display and network the data. Meanwhile Raymarine's updated i70s all-in-one N2K instrument display looks great on several levels...

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Evinrude E-Link, one leg of a generous open architecture attitude

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 4, 2016

Evinrude_E-Link_WiFi_gateway_n_app_aPanbo.jpgI suspect that a lot of now and future Evinrude E-Tec G2 outboard owners are going to appreciate the new E-Link hardware and app system almost as much as the Fourth of July. The easy-to-install NMEA 2000 WiFi gateway will cost about $360 and will neatly put all G2 gauges, calibrations, and fault codes into otherwise free E-Link Android and iOS (Apple) apps. One E-Link gateway will handle multiple outboards and the system doesn't require or preclude any other monitoring and control options. In fact, you may soon see a full G2 interface on your favorite multifunction display...

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Gizmo 2016, Pettit Hydrocoat Eco round 2 and Gadget redo

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 28, 2016

Gizmo_2016_Pettit_HydroCoat_Eco_2_cPanbo.jpg"You're pretty late, aren't you? I heard that a lot recently! There are many reasons for Gizmo's late launch last week -- travel, getting old, boatyard miscommunications, etc. -- but perhaps the most interesting one is what it took to properly retest Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom paint. Modern anti-fouling paint can be more of a technology than I realized and I'll also have to admit to some classic boat owner denial. Plus, I'd like to show off some improvements to the good tender Gadget...

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DeLorme inReach gets weather & goes to Cuba

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 21, 2016

DeLorme_inReach_weather_feature_cPanbo.jpgI've long felt that the DeLorme inReach is a valuable safety and communications tool for boats that sometimes go beyond reliable cellular (and/or VHF) contact with friends, families and rescue centers. But one gripe for skippers hoping to use an inReach as their only offshore communications device was the lack of weather forecasting. There were some necessarily crude third party solutions, but now DeLorme itself is offering easy-to-use and understand forecasts, both marine and terrestrial. I've just been testing this and many other inReach features in Cuba, though the legality of taking a satellite messenger/tracker there is uncertain...

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A Search and Rescue boat's critical electronics

... written for Panbo by Adam Hyde and posted on Jun 9, 2016

RCMSAR Station1 West Vancouver Howie at HelmAs a welcome change from his usual duties, Howie relaxes at the helm of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) Unit 1's Falkens class boat -- Craig Rae Spirit. More often he's face down in the water on a training exercise anxiously awaiting rescue from the ocean near Vancouver. Howie is integral to Unit 1's training program which includes: emergency procedures, first-aid, seamanship, vessel handling, teamwork, electronic navigation and the use of marine electronics. Let's take a closer look at the training needed to use some of the gear on SAR 1, along with how and why it is used on a search and rescue mission...

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