Raymarine LightHouse 14 sailing features, as good as they look?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 24, 2015

Raymarine_LH14_sailing_features_cPanbo_.jpgWhen pretending to sail, I go for high performance. That's why the screen above seems to show Gizmo exceeding true wind speed while extremely close hauled. But pretending is also why I can't truly review the new sailing features that came to all current Raymarine multifunction displays last May, thanks to a free LightHouse 14 operating system update. Additionally, most of the features described in the press release are about racing, which I did little of even when I was sailing a lot. But let's walk through the new Raymarine MFD capabilities anyway, and hopefully we'll hear from sailors who've actually used these tools or the similar ones offered by B&G and Garmin...

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MFD engine alarming improves, but still needs more Maretron-ization

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 17, 2015

Garmin_741_engine_alarm.jpgOn Oct. 4th I'll present a seminar titled "Electronic Engine Monitoring Comes of Age" at TrawlerFest Bay Bridge in Stevensville, Maryland. This Garmin 741 photo will be useful as it shows three new and different ways Gizmo's old diesel engine can now indicate a low oil pressure problem. Thanks to the Actisense EMU-1 I installed in 2013, the simple low pressure alarm switch on the Volvo Penta can trigger an informative pop-up (and audio alarm) on all the networked Garmin screens regardless of what function(s) they're showing. And if the engine gauge page is up, the familiar low oil pressure icon lights up and, better yet, the customizable digital psi dial can go red based not on the alarm switch, but rather on a minimum pressure I've set. That's all good, but modern marine electronics can do even better...

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One LED flare replaces U.S. required pyros, Sirius Signal but not Ocean Signal

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 14, 2015

Sirius Signal LED flare aPanbo.jpg

The pitch is compelling. The $100 Sirius Signal SOS C-1001 LED "flare" isn't just a floating SOS flasher visible at night "up to 10+ nautical miles...for at least 6 hours." It is also the only such device that meets the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for an electric distress light and can thus permanently replace the three pyrotechnic flares otherwise required on all U.S. recreational vessels over 16 feet operating in coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and many major rivers (and on even smaller boats at night). Given that the cheapest flare set costs about $33 and expires 42 months after manufacturing (and you might not want the cheapest because pyros are inherently dangerous to you and the environment), the Sirius substitute may be a "no brainer"...

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On The Water ICW ChartGuides, more great work from Mark & Diana Doyle

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 7, 2015

OTW_ChartGuide_ICW_vol1_ed1_aPanbo.JPGMy expectations for the recently announced On The Water ChartGuides were high, but darn if checking out a whole 120 page review copy didn't blow me away (and I'm already familiar with most of the Intracoastal Waterway that Volume 1 covers). The two new ChartGuides are also remarkably inexpensive in print or electronic formats, just like OTW's other ICW guides. My only complaint? The Doyles are such skilled and prolific communicators that I feel like a piker!

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Calypso Cups Bluetooth LE wind sensor, TDWLB pressure too

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 27, 2015

Calypso_CUPS4_Bluetooth_wind_sensor_boxed_cPanbo_.jpgCalypso Marine Instruments is a new company located in Spain and their first product is the CUPS 4 wireless and solar-powered wind sensor seen above before assembly. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy -- also known as BLE or Smart Bluetooth -- to send wind data to BLE compatible mobile devices. I've used both iOS and Android versions of Calypso's own AnemoTracker app to view the data, but other apps can access it and a NMEA bridge/display will porportedly be introduced at METS...

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Furuno NavNet TZ Touch 2, First Impressions on the Water

... written for Panbo by Guest Writer and posted on Aug 24, 2015

Helm_with_TZT_2_15L_displays_courtesy_F_Khedouri_aPanbo.jpgWritten by Fred Khedouri

A few days ago, just about every square inch of panel space on the main helm of my 32-foot Carolina Classic express-style sportfishing boat got covered over with the shiny black glass of two new Furuno TZTL 15F multifunction displays, the newly launched second generation of the Furuno TZ Touch series. The rest of the system includes a 12kW four-foot open array radar, a DFF1-UHD black box sonar, a smaller first-generation TZT 9 display mounted on the tower helm, and a Furuno 711C autopilot.

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Joe's 1969 Allied 42 yawl, fully problem solved & awaiting owner #3

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 20, 2015

Allied_42_Furly_B_cPanbo.jpgFull disclosure: a major motivation for this entry is to help sell my old friend Joe McCarty's boat by describing how well he rebuilt it, particularly in terms of reliable systems. The Furly B is being brokered by Robinhood Marine, where Joe was general manager for 20 years, and I had a good look at her just before the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show opened last Friday. The visit confirmed what I pretty much already knew; Joe bought an excellent old boat and he made her better than new. Actually, the background story for a new owner is far better than that...

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Pilot Line autopilot, unfinished business

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 17, 2015

Pilot_Line_autopilot_patent_aPanbo.jpgI hesitate to write about a marine technology that isn't an actual product yet, especially when I don't understand it! However, there may be a story here worth telling. At the end of his career, a very experienced engineer came up with what he believes to be a superior autopilot technology, but it will never become available to boaters unless someone new carries the project forward...

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U.S. Coast Guard mobile, a good app with a compelling back story

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 13, 2015

USCG_app_home_screens_cPanbo.jpgThe free USCG Boating Safety App has a lot to offer, as indicated by the home screens seen above on my Android phone and iPad Mini. Version 1.0 also seems almost surprisingly fast and polished, which may make more sense when you learn that it was developed by a small, highly-motivated team instead of a large government bureaucracy. In fact, the app is a gift to us from a grieving father trying to honor a son who was an enthusiatic CG Auxilary volunteer on the path to becoming an active duty Guardsman...

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Team Soltero: StarPilot, GMN, RedPort, Bliss & so much more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 4, 2015

Bliss_anchoring_in_Pulpit_Harbor_cPanbo.jpgBehold the 39-foot trawler Bliss about to anchor behind Gizmo in Pulpit Harbor. She's a custom Jay Benford design (based on a Cascade sailboat hull) that already turns heads, but note the cabin top presence of both Inmarsat FB150 and Iridium Pilot antennas (the latter formerly known as OpenPort, and tested for Panbo on VOJ). The serious satellite communications -- and there are more devices less visible -- are because owner/operators Luis and Kim Soltero have spent much of their thirty year marriage creating a remarkable portfolio of satcom services and devices, and they're still at it. Yes, we had a Bliss/Gizmo geek rendezvous and it was a blast...

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