Sabre 66: excellence in digital switching and control

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.

22 Responses

  1. Don Joyce says:

    Beautifully executed installation.
    Comment on contactors. DC contactors are susceptible to arcing. AC contactors are much less so.
    I rebuild the contactors on our DC powered intermitent hydraulic pumps annually after one arced closed causing a not insignificant pump motor fire while offshore. The pump motors are located within an enclosure with good sound insulation so I never heard the pump motor running longer than I intended using a winch.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Don, I don’t know where I read this wry line, and I may be misquoting its author, but it still makes me wince:
    “Cruising is what you get to do when you’re not repairing pumps.”

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Incidentally, the dual radars on this Sabre 66 Fly Bridge are Garmin 4- and 6-foot solid state Fantoms, about which David Jirikovic says, “I REALLY like how they paint — super clear.”
    Meanwhile, I don’t know the owner of the Beal 44 but those dual Simrad open arrays were installed by the good folks at:
    What’s missing from their website is a photo of their shop, or better yet a video. It’s a rehabbed gas station on Rockland’s main street, now also sporting dual open array radars on its flat roof, which are rotating on good days. It’s a hoot.

  4. TCY says:

    Good story on BEP/CZONE Mastervolt and Garmin I am installing these three brands a lot and they work really well together. The CZONE interface in the Garmin is as usually really easy to change and you can make your own user page almost with your eyes closed.
    Sad that every story about an other brand than Simrad has to end up with a little Simrad flag, and then the big propaganda begins in the comments. Is Panbo getting sponsored by Simrad?
    Yes I am a big fan of Garmin (in the big Raymarine Europe) only because of the simplicity and their user friendliness and it (almost never) breaks down yes off course there are some boat owners who have big issues and start replaying on my comment but you will never hear anybody with no problems.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    What the hell are you talking about, TCY? Are you offended because I ended the story with a great looking lobster boat that happens to have Simrad gear on it? Well, I’m quite offended that you think advertising or sponsorship has anything to do with what I post.
    It just does not work that way here, and it hasn’t at the magazines I’ve work at for either. Nobody has told me what to write about. What’s more, Panbo advertisers never bug me to do anything because they are advertisers. Never.
    Now consider this: I try to cover what’s going on with all four of the major brands that dominate at least saltwater electronics, three of which currently advertise on Panbo. They are Furuno, Raymarine, and Garmin (via both DeLorme and Fusion). Navico (Simrad, B&G, Lowrance, and GoFree) does NOT advertise here (though that would be welcome). So in your view, I guess I’m biased against Panbo advertisers? Wow!
    Also consider this: Something I could have included at the end of this article is how Simrad was the first to support CZone, which they did well for quite a while before Garmin and then Furuno did similar. Simrad still supports CZone but now it’s also doing very interesting integration with Naviops, described here:
    Any questions, TCY?

  6. Norton Rider says:

    I am concerned about the long term viability of a concept like this. What happens many years down the line when something fails or a boat owner wants to update the electronics? Will the proprietary software and components be available 10, 20, 30 years from now? Will the whole electrical switching system need to be replaced also?

  7. Doug McEwen says:

    Agree with your comment, but I think you missed the word “not” in your statement that “Navico does advertise here”.
    Don’t need to post this correction on the blog comments.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    That is a concern, Norton Rider. There was a scare about E-Plex in 2010 that led some distributors and owners to stockpile spare modules…
    …but then again E-Plex survived:
    Frankly, I’d be more concerned about a completely custom digital switching system, especially if the supplier was under a much smaller roof than Power Products. One thought I had seeing two 66-foot boats with very similar systems more than year apart was how Sabre could and did expend significant engineering resources. I also witnessed can-do system knowledge literally passing and multiplying from hull to hull.
    Moreover I’d take some comfort in what a risk this digital switching changeover is for a production or semi-custom boatbuilder. And Sabre is about as far from a fly-by-night startup as you’ll find:
    But I hear that the wait is now quite long for a Sabre 66 πŸ˜‰
    (And thanks, Doug, the “NOT” missed in agitation has been inserted.)

  9. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    I am curious, in addition to Day Cruising, what are the other modes.

  10. Chris Collins says:

    Norton, I would say there is some concern. You can also have compatibility problems with older systems as these evolve. For instance a module may get discontinued which will require programming and wiring changes to repair in the future instead of a plug and play repair. You also are adding power distribution to the list of time obsolete equipment on a vessel, much like helm electronics.
    The bigger issue is having people trained to work on these systems. Eventually I assume more of the Electronics guys will have to familiarize them selves with power distribution and vice versa.
    Given the complexity of modern boat systems, to some extent these systems are required but there will be more growing pains.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Of course most marine engines have already gone a similar route, so the traditional mechanic needs to be more and more of a specialized technician aided by fast modern parts distribution systems. But the results are appealing in terms of efficiency, clean emissions, low noise and power per pound.
    And ditto for some drive systems. Just after I got aboard Sabre 66 #3, they turned it around to more easily install the anchor and rode. It looked like the hardest part was switching over the fenders, thanks to the IPS drives, and most of the crew aboard just kept at their commissioning tasks, hardly looking up.

  12. Gregory Yount says:

    ” All sorts of good marine electricians could troubleshoot an issue on a vessel set up like Dirona, for instance, but if something odd does go wrong with a 66, it may well take the network of Sabre and CZone techs to figure it out.”
    This is my concern. For those who travel far afield, dependence on a network of techs to resolve problems is very troubling. In many cases, even the likelihood of reliable back-and-forth e-mails is questionable while in remote places.
    Will these networked boats end up being coastal cruisers, traveling marina to marina (not that there is anything wrong with that) where support is a phone call away?

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Well, Gregory, my first real seagoing experience was in the early 70’s, delivering brand new sailboats to the first Caribbean bareboat charter fleets. There were far fewer systems, but they failed far more frequently. (One particular model often suffered structural failures — i.e. bulkheads detaching — just getting from the factory in Florida to the BVI.) During many subsequent deliveries of not new boats, it was best to expect electronics to be broken or flaky.

  14. Hi Ben – a tale from my past (not about a boat, unfortunately). Back in 1956 when I was 5, my dad built our house – and he ended up living there until 2007 without major changes, so he seems to have done a good job. Since he was an EE, he found a brand new lighting system he thought was really good – instead of wiring power from the fuse box out through the wall switches to the lights, it used a solenoid switch at the light fixture, with low-voltage wires running to the control switches on the wall and the power wires running directly to the lights. The wall switches were double-throw momentary – push the top and the solenoid pulled in and the light lit – push the bottom and it pulled out and the light went out. Those who’ve done electrical work can immediately recognize the advantage when you wanted lots of switches for each light! He also had a multiposition switch in his bedroom where he could turn any/every light on or off as needed.
    Not every light was on the system, but all the ones in the larger living and kitchen areas were, including the outside flood lights.
    When he bought the lights, he thoughtfully bought several extra solenoid assemblies plus switches and switchplates – he told me later he did it because he was thinking he might want to put in more of them. But it was a good thing, because when yours truly smashed a switch a few years later, and when a solenoid failed 10 years after that, he had parts – because the original manufacturer was long gone, and nothing similar was available & compatible with his system.
    To my knowledge, the system is still installed and working (Dad sold the house & moved to Exeter in 2007), so it was a high-quality system – but not really maintainable any more.
    Does that mean we shouldn’t buy & use today’s slick new power management systems? No – but we need to be attentive to the unique/proprietary components involved, and whether replacement parts are going to be available πŸ™‚
    Regarding contactors for DC loads – Don is 100% correct that DC contactors are much more susceptible to arcing. At some point (maybe it exists already and I haven’t seen it?) a power MOSFET should exist for almost any application, replacing contactors.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    A ferry hit a pier in the Canaries hard — apparently “due to a widespread failure in the ship’s electrical system” — a reader let me know:

  16. Chris Collins says:

    Ben interesting on the Ferry. I saw that video on Twitter earlier this week. Actually when I saw it assumed either engine failure or controls failure. On most of the commercial vessels I have been on the engine and transmission controls (or Zdrive controls) are usually fed from two independent power sources in case of a failure. Which is interesting to note as electronics are involved with more and more of vessel operations.

  17. Colin A says:

    I have yet to try them but there are some higher power MOFSET contractors out there.
    For example:

  18. Hi Colin, That’s exactly what I would expect to see eventually replacing physical contactors everywhere for DC, including stuff like starters — just as SCRs and triacs have done with AC. With sufficient transient protection, inrush current limiting and heat sinking, they should function for VERY long periods without worries, while electro-mechanical contactors will always eventually wear out.
    I currently have a number of high-current relays onboard – two for the bilge pumps, two battery combiners, two in the starters and one in the windlass. While they are all working fine, I would prefer solid state πŸ™‚

  19. Don Joyce says:

    Crydom makes 100A DC SSR’s which are useful for lots of applications and I’ve used them throughout our boat; even for switching relays for the DC contactors for the winch motors. When 250A SSR’s become available I’m definitely going to replace the “damned” contactors.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I have been looking for 3-phase 150 amp SSRs to rebuild my main electrical panel.
    Does anyone have recommendations for 3-phase SSRs capable of supporting 150A at 208/240V AC?

  21. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    CZone news highlight: “Software Release 10…includes support for control of Dometic HVAC systems and Sea Recovery Watermakers. A user friendly Commissioning Wizard will also help guide installers through the commissioning process.”

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