Florida fun: “Plures Naves Quam Mentes”


Yes, I was a grinning fool when Panbo — for the second year in a row! — received the BWI Award for Original Online Content (all awards listed here). Plus it seemed the perfect moment to debut the new Panbo logo hat I’d just received the day before, and purely by happenstance I was joined at the podium by two friends from the even smaller world of marine electronics. Bill Bishop got Third Place for his Marine Installers Rant blog (check his Award entry here and don’t miss the cartoon he submitted as the essay) and Bruce Angus did the presenting because he’s now Interim Director of the NMEA, which sponsored the category. But don’t think that NMEA had anything to do with the judging, which was done anonymously by three fellow members of BWI. Well, actually I do know the name of one judge because she was quoted thusly: “Ellison obviously knows his subject matter inside and out, but never takes himself too seriously, actively soliciting input and contributions from his readers.” For which I will be eternally grateful…

I’ve never even met Marty LeGrand (who writes for Chesapeake Bay magazine, and won two BWI awards herself), but I really appreciate her take on Panbo. I work hard to encourage and moderate comments and know very well that they contribute great value to the site. So I hope Panbo commenters consider the Award as shared. In fact, my plan for those new hats — which proved themselves excellent cover in FL sun — is to award them to quality contributors and guest bloggers. I also count myself lucky that my chosen niche of marine electronics is one that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and relish the idea that a guy might even be awarded for that attitude!  Thus the remainder of this entry…


Note to a marine electronics industry that has more and more apps to show off: Garmin staff did a great job setting up their new BlueChart Mobile app on an iPad with a locked mount and output to a big monitor so that other Miami show goers could take it in, but they should have also wiped other apps off the ipad or found a way to lock down BlueChart Mobile (is there an app for that?) because this is the scene I found when I came by to check it out.
   I got laughing so obviously that the dad involved yanked the kid away from his Angry Birds game, but I had to come back later to learn that the app supports full synchronization with ActiveCaptain. In other words, you can not only access all the AC data even when your iPad or iPhone is offline but you can also edit POI details and add ratings for later sync. I tend to believe Jeff Siegel’s prediction that the Garmin connection will significantly increase the number of AC contributors in the next year, and that’s good for all of us…


The photo above is what happens when you arrive late at West Marine’s annual press conference announcing its 2012 top product picks and Green Awards. I particularly appreciate the event because it’s hosted by Chuck Hawley, who I consider one of the brighter lights in the industry. At this particular moment he’s talking up the benefits of the Kannad SafeLink R10 personal AIS SART, including an endorsement by my latest marine tech hero, Stan Honey. Personal AIS SARTs still aren’t FCC approved for use in the U.S. — which makes the West Marine choice even more important — but apparently the standard is written and the approvals should come very soon.
   But actually I took this picture because of the very unusual way the gent in the foreground has stowed his iPad. Eeeeeewwwwww! I did get a demo of the ScanStrut waterproof iPad case in Miami, and it seems neat, but it wouldn’t help in this case…


I suppose I shouldn’t have been laughing during this scene, but it did seem funny that a boat load of (groggy) “marine professionals” somehow missed the fact that the Port of Miami main channel was shut down during the dawn arrival of a cruise ship…until a police boat turned us around in no uncertain terms. Note the Raymarine radome — a “good get”, as they say, for Ray — and I also thought of our heated discussions regarding DHS monitoring of AIS. Like the USCG Admiral said in Miami years ago, a hit on one of these “soft” targets could lead to a real loss of boating liberty, and that’s why I’m willing to endure all manner of monitoring to help these guys separate knowns and unknowns…


If the world does go to hell in hand-basket (my dad’s expression, and I don’t understand it either), one place to hide out might be the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which I got to visit aboard a Boston Whaler Montauk thanks to my forever buddy Joe McCarty. Fish were landed, birds were appreciated, and several apps and gadgets were tested. Like the amazing panoramic mode available in my new Galaxy Nexus phone, which is by far the easiest I’ve ever used, but can still produce anomolies like triple Joes in the right hands 😉
   Joe also arranged a sail aboard a vintage Menger Cat 23 on Estero Bay, where again the waters seemed absurdly thin. The careful owner claimed he’d never been aground, but I personally helped him over that hump (centerboards are wonderful). You’ll see below that Joe arrived properly dressed for driving a vessel so unique in this area. The RMC cap speaks to his many years managing Robinhood Marine Center where he still pushes tools in the shoulder seasons and also where he fusses over his lovely 42-foot bareboat charter yawl Furly B. Meanwhile, the T-shirt (available here) reflects the twisted genius of our mutual friend and MBHH publisher John Hanson. “Plures Naves Quam Mentes” translates from the Latin as “More Boats Than Brains” and any one of us old Maine codgers can wear one honestly. How about you?


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

9 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Well, I may as well complete my BWI Awards bragging. Every year there’s a Grand Prize for the best of all the previous year’s winning entries and while it was deservedly won by the great Soundings reporter Jim Flannery, Panbo got an honorable mention. I was especially pleased about this as the Grand is judged by an entirely separate group of non-marine journalists (see bottom here: http://goo.gl/nw8LS ).
    My 2nd place Award in Technical Writing for a Cruising World piece on entertainment systems ( http://goo.gl/0OTjK ) also had a sweet note. While last year I just beat our Panbot friend Gram Schweikert (in the Electronics Category, http://goo.gl/WFB55 ), this year he beat me with his CW article comparing offshore comms systems (unfortunately not online). It was fun to let him know while he’s cruising on the other side of the planet ( http://goo.gl/7JpnL ). Make way for the young!

  2. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Not sure which part of this entry I am more excited about.
    1. Ben receiving a BWI award (Congratulations Ben!)
    2. That new Panbo hat for quality contributors and guest bloggers.

  3. Rick R says:

    Congrats to Ben and Bill. I can’t think of a more deserving pair.

  4. edumaritime says:

    This is grand!
    Congratulations and keep it up
    George Marikas

  5. yme.nl says:


  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    No worries, Dan, one of these hats has your name on it. But, please, no one should get overly excited just yet. My initial order was only 15 hats because I wasn’t sure about thread colors, and I already gave most of those away to Panbo friends and advertisers in Miami. On the other hand, large prize winnings equals much larger second hat order!

  7. steverow says:

    Good stuff Ben, and well done. When are we going to see you at Southampton?

  8. ed says:

    Coming in low in the online category is easy to swallow when I see the top of the line!
    Congrats Ben.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool: all the BWI Award winning articles are now online in PDF form:
    This is a bonus of going with digital submissions this year.

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