Yearly Archive: 2011

Interlux Pacifica Plus, the seven month test 10

Interlux Pacifica Plus, the seven month test


Antifouling bottom paint is a tricky subject, especially now that we’re rightfully paying more attention to the health of the waters it works in and the health of the people who apply it. So I was happy to experiment with copper-free Interlux Pacifica Plus this season, and the results were better than this photo looks. In fact, I may well use it again next year, but I would like to understand more about what chemistry actually constitutes a safe and effective bottom paint…

SmartPlug shore power system, has its time come? 43

SmartPlug shore power system, has its time come?


I’ve got shore power running to Gizmo right now, as I’m trying to get the batteries in tip top shape for the frigid months to come, and I feel a lot better about that situation because I recently installed the SmartPlug system above. Maybe I’m paranoid but I’ve heard of so many boat fires which started at the shore power inlet that I’m always reluctant to leave one active when I’m not around. But that 30 amp SmartPlug inlet is carefully designed to avoid heat-inducing resistance and it also contains a trip thermostat which cuts power at 200º F (just before wire insulation begins to soften). Plus the inlet is very easy to install, and when you first use the orange plug itself, you too will likely wonder why we’ve been messing with twist locks all these years. With its obvious orientation and lock levers, a glance at its straight blades is not necessary. The blue “I’ve got power” LED is a useful touch too. But can SmartPlug change the traditional hardware world of shore power?…

SolLight solar-powered LEDs, the long test 10

SolLight solar-powered LEDs, the long test


Daylight today was at the minimum, at least in my hemisphere, and I was also fiddling with various holiday lights (which might be related phenomenon). So it seems like a good time to write about these SolLight solar-powered LED fixtures that have been lighting up my life for years. I started testing that LightShip model in early 2007 and when Gizmo came along in the spring of 2009 I stuck it to the hatch in the head, where it’s served well for three seasons. It’s left so that the dim red LED comes on at night and then we often switch to the brighter white when using the facilities…

Jeppesen C-Maps, Coastal Explorer 2011 & Plan2Nav 0

Jeppesen C-Maps, Coastal Explorer 2011 & Plan2Nav


If you don’t cruise outside the U.S. it may not matter, but Coastal Explorer users who do seem quite excited that the PC charting program will soon support the worldwide portfolio of Jeppesen C-Map Max charts and maybe even NT+ cards. You can hear the enthusiasm, and learn a lot of detail about how support will work, by checking out this CE Beta testing forum entry. Better yet, if you already run CE 2011, you can download the Beta from the same page and then use its rich chart management features to download some of C-Map’s generous demo cartography…

Super light VHF handhelds: Icom M24 vs Standard Horizon HX300 15

Super light VHF handhelds: Icom M24 vs Standard Horizon HX300


I’ve been meaning to write about the Icom M24 handheld VHF for some time. While I haven’t actually tested this model myself, just holding one at a boat show was a revelation about how light and hand-friendly a full-featured portable marine radio can be these days. Apparently Standard Horizon was also impressed, because today they announced an HX300 model that seems very similar…

Open N2K to WiFi, Chetco SeaSmart & DMK Yacht Instruments 43

Open N2K to WiFi, Chetco SeaSmart & DMK Yacht Instruments


It took me less than an hour to cable a sample Chetco SeaSmart E-Net to Gizmo’s NMEA 2000 network and WiFi router and use the boat’s PC to scan for its IP address, which then yielded screens like the “Weather Info” browser page above on both my iPad and Android Incredible phone. Cool!  And if I was actually proficient at the sort of IT stuff represented in that SeaSmart “Network Setup” screen, it probably would have been quicker. Admittedly there are some issues with that data — Gizmo was not pitched 30 degrees, for instance! — and I’ve got a lot more testing to do, but I am excited about the growing number of devices designed to gateway NMEA 2000 (and other boat sensor data) out to Ethernet and WiFi in forms that can be easily displayed, or, better yet, easily used by any software developer…

Vesper Marine AIS-DSC calling, merry Christmas (again) 28

Vesper Marine AIS-DSC calling, merry Christmas (again)


I’ll venture a guess that Vesper Marine won’t commit to giving annual Christmas “prezzies” to their AIS WatchMate customers forever, but the company is following up on its terrific 2010 anchor watch software gift with a new free update feature that lets users place direct DSC calls to AIS targets if their WatchMate model 670, 750, or 850 is set up to output NMEA 0183 to a compatible VHF radio. But I fear “compatible” is the key word here, and I caution WatchMate owners not to set their expectations high, though I think that this is a very worthwhile experiment…

Lowrance HDS Gen2, with StructureMap! 14

Lowrance HDS Gen2, with StructureMap!

The breaking news today is that Lowrance is out with the new HDS Gen2 multifunction display series, and it has enough processing power to support an interesting new feature called StructureMap. Of course you...