Monthly Archive: June 2012

Testing a state-of-the-art install: “Many things work!” 15

Testing a state-of-the-art install: “Many things work!”


A wry line that applies to this and numerous other cutting-edge installs is: “Many things work!” (Though maybe not everything just yet.) This is the 58-foot yacht I mentioned in February when I met the owner at the Miami Show as he planned a nearly complete electronics update. Obviously he decided on the Furuno TZtouch displays that debuted that very day.  In fact, while the four TZT14’s on this boat may be some of first installed anywhere and they’re mixed with lots of non-Furuno gear to boot, they seemed to be working quite well. So nicely done, Furuno!  But I emphasize “seemed” because it takes a while to wring out a system as complex as this, especially when so much is happening preparatory to delivery day. Heck, guys were varnishing below even as we blasted up the St. George river at nearly 36 knots to check that yet another prop change had fixed vibration issues. And though the techs are joining the owner for the two-day delivery home, it’s still unlikely that they’ll get all the way through the “issues list.” That’s life on the cutting edge. Nonetheless, I think the owner is going to be very pleased with how close the system comes to his vision, and how well it will customize and expand to his future wishes…

Penobscot Bay Rendezvous 2012, join me! 2

Penobscot Bay Rendezvous 2012, join me!

While I was enthusiastic about the first Penobscot Bay Rendezvous last summer, when the event came around I only managed to make a couple of the parties and do a little spectating (above). But I sure liked what I saw and am pleased that this year I’m helping to manage the PBR as the Powerboat Fleet Guide. I like how the event welcomes both power and sail –and how it attracts a mix of local and visiting boaters too — but the powerboats need something to do besides watching sailboats race (as enjoyable as that can be). I think we’ve come up with some great plans…

Beam Oceana 800, and weather via sat phone 20

Beam Oceana 800, and weather via sat phone


Panbo thanks Bob Ebaugh for taking some time out from a Caribbean cruise to write this review detailing his experience with several satellite phones, particularly an Iridium model built by Beam for fixed marine installation:

Early this year one of Ben’s industry friends was interested
in an evaluation of a Beam
Oceana 800
. I was in the right
place at the right time, and thanks to the kindness of Satellite Phone Solutions,
one was loaned to me for the season as I travelled from St. Martin to Grenada. We already had an IsatPhone Pro and Globalstar
handheld on board, so I can make some comparisons between the 3 different
products for voice and data communications.

Airmar expedition, searching “tunny” in Scotland 0

Airmar expedition, searching “tunny” in Scotland


Do you too wonder if the Colonels dressed like that as they fished off their steam yacht in 1933? Actually I didn’t even know that there once was a giant bluefin tuna fishery off Scotland until this morning when I read Airmar’s new blog about an expedition that starts tomorrow. The company already had a crack tuna fisherman on staff in the person of Bertrand Picarda and now they’ve teamed up with a gentleman from Inverness who fishes a 40-foot Rodman 1250 Fisher Pro..that now has some new holes in its bottom… 

Kayak cruising, is there an app for that? 3

Kayak cruising, is there an app for that?


While there are many wonderful non-profits helping to preserve the Maine coast and to enable public access, one of my favorites is the Maine Island Trail Association. MITA has established a network of island campgrounds that can be visited by small boat. The Trail is used primarily by kayakers but I’ve visited many MITA-monitoried islands in larger boats, sail and power, and can attest to the fact that the organization has established a leave-no-trace ethic that really works. I use both the printed and online MITA Guide and appreciate other membership benefits but largely support the organization because I so like the idea of more people enjoying this wonderful coast (like those kids above, who built those kayaks in a very neat Chewonki Foundation class). So when MITA director Doug Welch asks me to answer some questions about using smart phones as aids for cruising the Trail in small boats, I’m willing to give it a try, and hope that you all will add your thoughts in the comments section…

AIS MOB devices, we’re in the learning phase! 33

AIS MOB devices, we’re in the learning phase!


One of the great things about the new AIS MoB beacons, like the recently FCC approved Kannad SafeLink R10, is that they can send a short test signal over the air so that you can see how well your AIS plotter has been programmed to deal with one. But the fact that I’ve been encouraging folks to do just that makes it even more imperative that I report on a bug in very recent Garmin MFD software versions 7.30, 4.30, and 3.80. (See comment on the R10 entry above for more detail, but you probably don’t have the bug unless you updated your Garmin in last three weeks). While Garmin purportedly did a great job of programming its displays to respond usefully to an AIS MoB, apparently the test signal from an R10 can cause its MFDs to shut down, which was just discovered in Newport where the Bermuda Race fleet is gathering…

AIS over NMEA 2000, the shame sheet! 83

AIS over NMEA 2000, the shame sheet!


It was a beautiful weekend in Maine, and we deserved one, but sorry to report that there were sighs and curses of surprise and disappointment emanating from the good vessel Gizmo. I may be late with this year’s (way over the top 😉 electronics installations, but that’s what Gizmo is about, and I was looking forward to seeing how a new-to-me Em-Trak B100 Class B AIS transponder would work with a wide variety of displays that could use its NMEA 2000 output. As discussed here last June, the B100 is a compact, feature-rich, affordable transponder, especially compared to the others with N2K output. And while there was a glitch in early implementations of AIS over NMEA 2000, I had presumed that the major manufacturers involved had worked that out. Damn it, I was wrong…

Fusion MS-IP700 and -NRX200, hands-on #1 39

Fusion MS-IP700 and -NRX200, hands-on #1


The Fusion IP700, first announced at last October’s NMEA Conference, is so shiny that it’s hard to photograph, which is why you’ll see reflections of the air holes in Gizmo’s overhead if you click/enlarge the shot above. But you’ll also see the IP700’s terrific volume control and the fact that you can now name your speaker zones. As shown by the green color I’m controlling all three sets of speakers at once but I can just push the big knob to select individual zones. In fact, this is just a photo setup as usually I have the Fly Bridge zone control shut off on this display because I plan to control it with a NRX200 remote that will be installed up there…

Crowdsourced soundings on the ICW, CruisersNet & more 7

Crowdsourced soundings on the ICW, CruisersNet & more


As a guy who may actually cruise the Intercoastal Waterway this fall (as opposed to last year, when I only talked about it!), I’m delighted that there’s so much competition to collect and share relevant information about it. A particularly notable development is the way has teamed with Survice Engineering and EarthNC to overlay the former’s “Argus” volunteer-collected and tide-corrected depth data onto the latter’s slick online charting engine, along with lots of other valuable CruiserNet info. The screenshot above shows hundreds of recent ICW soundings less than 12 feet, and also a professionally researched “Problem Area” note, and of course you can drill down to much greater detail…

B&G Triton, first look’s good 108

B&G Triton, first look’s good


I’m starting out with a backside shot of the B&G Triton T41 color instrument display — first announced here last September — because I’d like to highlight the novel installation scheme. After fastening that flanged collar at left into the appropriate size hole, the Triton simply inserts and twist locks — or vice versa — without the need of a tool, and also without any “snap on/off” fastening covers to get broken or lost. It worked fine for me in the lab, and I suspect it will work fine on Gizmo’s bridge, but the very day I took this picture I stumbled on an early Triton user who doesn’t like this system at all…