Monthly Archive: July 2012

DY NavLink, how will your iPad get boat data? 22

DY NavLink, how will your iPad get boat data?


On Friday I got a press release announcing Digital Yacht’s NavLink NMEA2000 to WiFi Server, and while I certainly understand the desire to get boat sensor data of all sorts onto iPads and other tablets, I remain confused about how it will all play out. For instance, how is the NavLink “revolutionary” when the Chetco SeaSmart and DMK boxes purportedly do the same job? And whereas there is no NMEA standard for putting N2K onto Ethernet yet, are all these products doing it differently so they won’t necessarily work with even the few marine apps that already accept data over WiFi? Then there’s the issue of NMEA 2000 certification; though I sure wish the standards organization would get this sorted out, I still think their certification process must especially be honored when a product is all about translating NMEA’s intellectual property. When I wrote about that several of you disagreed, but I understand that Chetco is very close to certification and I trust Digital Yacht will also work on it. But I don’t see NMEA 2000 certification on the NavLink box and also don’t now what DY means by “Digital Yacht has their own, certified version of NMEA2000, called N2NET, and in the future customers will see more and more products enabled with this interface.” I’m hoping DY will clarify — they just did, and well, see first comment on Panbo — but in the meantime I’ve been testing some other means to the same end…

Skyfall, a family-size super yacht? 5

Skyfall, a family-size super yacht?


This picture of the Levey family is very similar to one which was published years ago in an article called Early Adopter that I’m still proud of. It was an unusual story because at first I didn’t want to write it. When I met Mark and Natalia in 2007 they were very early adopters of a snazzy nav system that was behaving quite badly, and frankly I was reluctant to cover what seemed like a possible accident about to happen (and, besides, writing about gear that doesn’t work very well is not what enthusiast magazines are about). But when they motored Alexis — an Azimut 55 named for their daughter — into Camden a year later, the Simrad Glass Bridge 60 was working better and, more important, I realized that this couple epitomized an early adaptor attitude that works. They like new technology for sure, but they know it doesn’t always perform as advertised and they don’t let that get in the way of their boating safety and enjoyment. I hope you’ll check out the article before taking a peek at the Levey’s new boat…

Waste plumbing, more important than electronics! 27

Waste plumbing, more important than electronics!


I don’t know if I’ve messed up my karma somehow, but I do know that the last year has included an unusual amount of personal time with blackwater systems. In fact, it was about this time last year that I had to abort a cruise because I could not fix a jammed-up Lavac marine toilet. It did not help that the nice bag of spare parts that came with Gizmo were actually for an earlier model of its electric pump. But now I have proper spares and a good snake on board, along with a comfy plastic seat
that can theoretically turn a standard five gallon bucket into an alternate head. And — my point in doing the work myself — I now understand the workings of the Lavac rather intimately…

Xtreme QuadLink, and the Victron N2K Skylla charger 3

Xtreme QuadLink, and the Victron N2K Skylla charger


The line on Pulsetech’s new QuadLink Battery Charger Multiplier is that it can “turn any 6V or 12V battery charger into a 4-station maintenance charger.” I’m sure that’s true but the most obvious charger to use it with is also from Pulsetech, like that Xtreme Marine I first tested in 2007. That unit has been through wringer without a wimper and I’m even more convinced today that it has certain battery healing abilities…

New Raymarine a-Series, all touch and highly connected 11

New Raymarine a-Series, all touch and highly connected


No knobs, no buttons, no “hybrid touch”?  Is anyone else surprised by the pure touchscreen interface on the just announced Raymarine “a-Series” multifunction displays?  We can discuss usability issues after the break, but one thing about pure touch is obvious: It let Ray design for maximum screen in minimum helm space. These new MFDs use an area only 6.5 x 5.7 inches to encase that “Super Bright LED” 5.7-inch (diagonal) 640 x 480 pixel screen, which is quite a contrast to the previous A-Series (at 8.9 x 6.3 inches and a lot thicker). But the little a-Series is not at all small in terms of horsepower or connectivity…

CHIRPing bottom all the way to Bermuda, maybe fish too! 10

CHIRPing bottom all the way to Bermuda, maybe fish too!


It’s a rare day when someone calls to say he’s sending marine electonics screenshots that gave him goosebumps! The someone was Peter Braffitt of Gemeco Marine and Airmar Technology, and while he certainly has a business interest in high-performance sonar transducers, he’s also a straight shooter. Besides, isn’t that screen above pretty darn amazing? It was taken aboard the handsome 80-foot Merritt-built sport fishing boat Speculator en route from Beaufort, North Carolina, to Bermuda. They not only held bottom the whole way — even in 17,624 freakin feet of water (or 5,372 meters or 3.3 miles!) — but they may have spotted fish at great depths too…

NV Charts, the paper & digital sweet spot? 15

NV Charts, the paper & digital sweet spot?


When I wrote about NV Charts after the 2011 Miami Show, I appreciated their unique approach to recreational charts. For one thing, they make their own (though based on official sources), and for another they won’t sell digital versions without the paper version (or vice versa, your choice!). But now that I’ve had some hand’s on time with the actual products, I’m even more appreciative. These are beautifully made charts no matter which way you look at them…

Em-Trak I100 Identifier, will AIS “be a victim of its own popularity”? 20

Em-Trak I100 Identifier, will AIS “be a victim of its own popularity”?


Though it looks like a commercial-grade AIS SART meant only for emergencies, the Em-Trak I100 Identifier is actually a special purpose Class B AIS transponder “suitable for even the smallest vessel.” It’s completely self-contained, with GPS and VHF antennas and a Lithium-Ion battery all packed inside that orange 14-inch tall waterproof casing. Once charged ashore in that AC cradle, you just twist lock the Identifier into the special pole bracket at right and it will automatically turn itself on and transmit standard Class B boat id and position messages for about five days. I haven’t actually tested the Em-Trak I100 in a kayak, but it certainly seems up to the challenge…

Nordwind 1939, gearing up for the Northwest Passage! 16

Nordwind 1939, gearing up for the Northwest Passage!


A Camden Harbor 2012 spring bonus has been getting to know that classy 85-foot wooden yawl as she prepared for an attempt at the Northwest Passage. Her name is Nordwind though her mainsail cover and life rings are marked Nordwind 1939, presumably in memory of both her launch year and the Fastnet Race in which she set a record that held for twenty-four years. Some of this history can be found on Nordwind’s 2011 Transatlantic Race page along with mention of her recent rounding of Cape Horn. This old boat still gets around!  I suspect that her greatest asset for the adventure north is the fact that her professional skipper, Alex Veccia, has already sailed her so many hard miles. But if you look closely in her rigging, you’ll see that he will have some new electronic helpers…

Simrad NSS8 & Raymarine e7, with radar in the rain 9

Simrad NSS8 & Raymarine e7, with radar in the rain


The cool thing about this picture is that the potent storm cell generating all that wind and rain was just about to pass to the east and I’d managed to avoid almost all of it thanks to radar. After taking this shot I just ran up into Camden’s outer harbor and rigged fenders and docklines while Gizmo drifted sideways downwind; by the time I reached my float the evening sky had cleared and I tied up in calm conditions without foul weather gear…