Category: Cabin & deck gear

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

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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Testing Lithium Ion engine jumpers (plus), from Weego and Cyntur

May 22, 2015

Most boaters will not experience the benefits of a Lithium Ion main battery bank any time soon, but nearly instant gratification is possible with a portable Li Ion charger pack, some of which can even jump start a small diesel engine. Brands and models are proliferating like fruit flies, but I'm particularly keen on the WeeGo Jump Starter Pro above, which I've been testing for a couple of months. It is a veritable Swiss Army knife of an on- or offboard power source...

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Teak Isle, Boat Outfitters, and Qi wireless phone charging

Apr 29, 2015


Yes, you can have wireless phone and tablet charging built into your boat right now. What's more, the Qi wireless charging standard that's powering the demo above is picking up support at a rapid rate, and the company building it into boat cabinetry is top drawer (so to speak). In fact, you should know about Teak Isle and its DIY retail outlet Boat Outfitters even if you don't give a hoot about induction charging...

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Gocycle G2, the ultimate boat bike?

Jan 2, 2015

Ben_on_GoCycle_in_Lauderdale2_cPanbo.jpgTesting a Gocycle G2 folding electric bicycle outside a tent at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show almost cost me dearly. Aside from the beautifully clean design, I found the bike easy to learn and comfortable to use, and it's a thrill to get some power assistance when you put extra pressure on the pedals or hit the red boost button. I started picturing all the enjoyable and possibly useful trips I could make around cruising ports and the dangerous internal voice of gadget lust began murmuring about the ample credit in my wallet and how I deserve what may be the coolest boat bike around. Consider yourself warned before proceeding to the impressive details...

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Raymarine CAM200IP marine camera, and hello IC Realtime Marine

Nov 6, 2014

Raymarine_FLIBS_2014_2_thumbs_up_cPanbo.jpgWhile I was just goofing around during the Raymarine demo cruise seen via screenshot above, in retrospect my thumbs are seriously up about both the new CP200 CHIRP SideVision sonar and the new CAM200IP marine camera. I've been on the water twice now with SideVision and it seems to have noticeably greater side looking range than the Navico, Garmin and Humminbird side imaging I've previously experienced; there are numerous factors at work here, though, and they'll have to wait for a future discussion. Today I'm writing about advanced boat cameras, particularly the CAM200, which could be an excellent addition to most any boat running Raymarine LightHouse II software...

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Antenna masts: Edson Vision & more

Sep 11, 2014


So far, so good. Finishing up Gizmo's antenna mast was the last minute task before heading south, but nothing fell on our heads during the often lively passage to the Cape Cod Canal and around into Long Island Sound. Most of the new installs up there worked, too, though we experienced a couple of very odd MFD issues that I'll write up once I understand them better. For the time being I'll just repeat a venerable adage: Do not rely on any one source of navigation information. Now let's discuss the Edson Vision and custom mounting hardware I used for the antenna farm...

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Marinebeam: Ultra Long Range LED flashlight tested, MarineKinetix wind turbine admired

Jul 8, 2014

Marinebeam_Ultra_spot_flashlight_testing_cPanbo.jpgYou really should click on the photo above to see the higher resolution version. With my camera on a tripod I was lighting up boats and mooring buoys about 500 to 700 yards away (460 to 640 meters) with only an LED flashlight powered by three D cells. What's more, the beam is so tight that I was able to do this testing without blinding myself or (hopefully) anyone who was on their boat in Camden's outer harbor last night. The Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT Illuminator is an unusual and useful flashlight as is, but it also demonstrates a promising technology...

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Hand's on Scanstrut Rokk adjustable mount & 2nd generation Lifedge iPad case

Jun 18, 2014

Scanstrut_Rokk_rail_mount_on_bend_cPanbo.jpg"Rokk" is a apt name for Scanstrut's adjustable mount system. Due to the large surface area and fine machining of those metal-on-metal ball and socket joints, it's easy to precisely position an attached MFD or iPad and then just a modest twist on the white handle will render the whole rig rock solid. I tested the Rokk Adjustable Rail Mount -- note how well it handles curved 1-inch rail or helm pedestal pipe -- with the Lifedge iPad case holder shown, but there's also a Rokk Adjustable Deck Mount and either can accommodate top plates custom designed for various popular displays in the 5- to 7-inch screen range. Is Rokk better than RAM?

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Inexpensive LED navigation lights, Aqua Signal & especially Marinebeam

May 6, 2014

old_Perko_filiment_nav_light_test_cPanbo.jpgAs much as I value LED lighting, I was hesitant to change Gizmo's navigation light fixtures. Why spend the (significant) money and refit time to save power when a big alternator is always running at the same time as the running lights? But I had already removed the boat's side light boards for refinishing last fall, and then I noticed that the cost of at least some LED nav lights has become quite reasonable. It was nearly an impulse buy when I put a pair of Aqua Signal Series 33 side lights in my Defender cart at $45 each. I'm not totally satisfied with the purchase, but I do expect the Aqua Signals to be a vast improvement over those old incandescent fixtures...

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Macris MIU15 underwater LED, OceanLED Xtreme news, and Rigid Dually spot

Feb 2, 2014

Dodson_launch_Macris_LED_courtesy_Macris.jpgI like the look of underwater lights, but I imagine that the pair on this Dyer 29 launch is also quite useful to the operator and all the passengers stepping on and off in the dark. What's unusual here is surface-mounted LED light fixtures so thin that installing them around midships made sense. The manufacturer, Macris Industries, also seems to offer a lot of lumens per dollar of fixture cost...

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