Penobscot Pilot, squared away


Not only did I get up on Mt. Battie yesterday and take that new header picture of a more June-like Camden Harbor (remember the old November one?), but I got down the Bay last Friday, catching a ride on the Penobscot Pilot. That’s Captain Jane Ryan and I above, and bigger here , just after she’d smoothly maneuvered alongside Nor’easter to pick up pilot Skip Strong (who snapped the picture). I’m wearing the float coat and harness because I’d been out on the bow shooting Skip’s descent down gangway and ladder, and because Jane runs a very safety conscious operation (with very good reason).  

The Penobscot Pilot is squared away in other respects too. Built to the pilots’ specs by Liberty Yachts in 2003 (photo gallery here), she has an enormous (and spotless) engine room, a rugged (unintended) swim platform, and excellent visibility (note the black defroster piping under the windows). The electronics are fairly normal—Furuno primary radar (a CRT model carried over from the replaced pilot boat, a Hatteras), Raymarine SL70 back up, Standard Horizon CP170 plotter, and a Dell laptop running Coastal Explorer. But the 48’ boat also has an ACR Nauticast Class A transponder (the less expensive non-SOLAS model, also once covered here as the GlobalWatch). The Pen Bay Pilots are into AIS, as mentioned earlier, and I even saw Jane program in the details of our short trip (easy with the Nauticast’s keyboard). She also joked as we closed with the Nor’easter that what she strives for on her CE screen—unlike the rest of us—is an AIS danger alert, and she surely achieved her goal with a momentary CPA of zero feet! But wait until you see what Skip lugs in his brief case…later.

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.

4 Responses

  1. Russ says:

    I did a litlte web shopping and it looks like the ACR/Nauticast non-SOLAS is a couple hundred dollars less than the Furuno FA-150. It has no graphical display as far as I can tell, and course the FA-150’s graphical display is pretty modest.
    Here’s a basic question, what is an ECDIS interface? I know what ECDIS is, but didn’t realize they had their own interface. Furuno lists the same thing, IEC 61162. How does this work in terms of interoperability with NMEA 183 or 2K? Require a separate cabling and port scheme?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m not really sure what the ECDIS interface is, Russ, but have seen plenty of FA-150’s and Nauticasts feeding NMEA 0183 to regular charting programs like Nobeltec and Coastal Explorer. Note the new link I added to the ACR GlobalWatch, which was actually a Nauticast. There’s a software demo still available that shows how good it is at data entry and messaging, even if it doesn’t do a graphic target display.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Furuno FA150 ecdis port is simply a NMEA 38k speed output (there are also more outputs)

  4. IEC 61162 is just like NMEA 0183 except that it runs at 38.4kbps. The sentences are all ASCII and look like NMEA 0183 –
    !AIVDM,1,1,,B,15MqvC0Oh:[email protected]@5>,0*44
    So yes, it will require a different port than your standard 4800bps NMEA-0183 devices.

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