Seakeeper install... 7,000 miles later

... written for Panbo by Ben Stein and posted on Jan 15, 2018

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As I sat down to write this article I flashed back to an eye-opening technology experience at the 2015 Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. My wife and I found ourselves on the Seakeeper roll stabilization demo boat in the mouth of the Port Everglades inlet with a Viking 60-foot sportfish doing circles around us throwing as big a wake as possible. Our demo ride led to a major install on our Carver motor yacht, which I can recall in vivid detail, but which also significantly improved our subsequent family voyage around the Great Loop...

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Ode to hydronic boat heating, and Sure Marine Service

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 9, 2018

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It seems appropiate to kick off 2018 with a discussion of heating technology, specifically the diesel-fired hydronic system I installed on Gizmo last year. It was a significant purchase and a major install, but the 66 degree pilothouse temperature seen above certainly made my early December ICW trip a lot more pleasant. I'll explain why I chose hydronic, detail how the system went together, and profusely praise Sure Marine Service, a marine heating equipment distributor par excellence...

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Doppler radar: Simrad VelocityTrack & Furuno DRS6A-NXT

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 22, 2017

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Simrad has now officially joined Furuno and Garmin with a solid-state radar feature using the Doppler effect to instantly highlight targets moving relative to your vessel. "VelocityTrack" can be added to any existing open array Halo radar with the purchase of an unlock code, and it appears to be the most sophisticated version of the feature yet. Simrad also created a thorough VelocityTrack presentation that even explains technical subtleties common to all such Doppler radar features. Meanwhile, Furuno is now challenging the Simrad and Garmin solid-state Doppler open arrays with its new DRS6A-NXT...

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Computer-assisted groundings? Bad Navionics charts?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 7, 2017

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Despite incredible advances in chart availability and chart plotting, keels keep banging on reasonably well charted ledges and reefs all over the planet. Why? I've made far too many navigation errors to play the righteous scold, but I am taken aback by the tendency of boaters to blame technology and especially the recent trend toward castigating chart manufacturers like Navionics as if perfect data is a possibility or even an entitlement...

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New in safety: Exposure OLAS Float-On, Vesper smartAIS deckWatch, and Digital Yacht Nomad portable AIS

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 21, 2017

Exposure_OLAS_Float-On_aPanbo.jpgThe Exposure OLAS Float-On is one hell of a flashlight (or "torch" in Brit speak). That's because it's also an automatic water-activated MOB strobe light and a Bluetooth MOB alerting device that can network with smartphone apps and more familiarly styled MOB tags. Details follow, along with several other interesting new safety products that also got the attention of the DAME Award judges at METS...

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AIS issues: Garmin, Navico, McMurdo, AMEC and SRT

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 13, 2017

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I like to write about marine electronics that facilitate safer, more enjoyable boating, especially new developments that seem headed in that direction. It's been gratifying, for instance, to see the infant Class B AIS that Panbo began covering in 2005 grow into a highly appreciated tool for cruisers, racers and fishermen. AIS is a huge success on many levels, but today the subject is two issues that may concern some Class B AIS users...

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Garmin & Navionics part 2, a close look at ActiveCaptain the app

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 6, 2017

Garmin_ActiveCaptain_app_notifications_Navionics_cPanbo.jpgIt's odd that I was writing about the Navionics Boating app's excellence at MFD integration when Garmin purchased the company and downright weird that the acquisition news arrived via a beta version of the brand new Garmin ActiveCaptain app that takes MFD integration to some other excellent places. For instance, have you ever seen phone notifications pop up on your helm screen while you're underway (if you choose)? The two apps are good news for lots of boaters as they are right now, but what fun to think of all their key features made into one...

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Navionics & Garmin part 1, long live Plotter Sync

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 29, 2017

Navionics_Plotter_Sync_improved_cPanbo.jpgDid my planned back-to-back reviews of evolving Navionics and Garmin apps suddenly become moot when the Garmin acquired Navionics on Friday? I don't think so! The terrific Plotter Sync integration I've been experiencing between the Navionics Boating app and multifunction displays from Simrad and Raymarine is not likely to go away anytime soon, if ever, and it may add significantly to your current navigation happiness. Moreover, many Garmin owners are about to receive a wonderful app gift, and while the different advances are not such a competition now, together they suggest the broad harmony between phones, tablets, PCs and MFDs many of us will eventually experience on our boats...

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Smörgåsboat 2: More tasty test electronics southbound on Gizmo

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 17, 2017

Passagemaker_Who_is_Ben_Ellison_article_opening_spread.jpgThe jury is still out. Brian Lind may have written a blushingly laudatory profile of Panbo and me for PassageMaker magazine -- and you can now check out "Who is Ben Ellison?" online -- but I agree with regular readers who may rightfully doubt my 'authoritative' 'expertise'! This site is not the "arbitrator of marine electronics" -- no such thing exists -- and evidence is building that I've become a bumbling old boat guy barely in command of all the gear he's installed, plus very darn slow to write about it...

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IBEX Winners: Lumitec PLI and Power-Pole Vision

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 26, 2017

IBEX_winner_Lumitec_Power_Line_Instructions_cPanbo.jpgWhat's amazing and IBEX award worthy about the Lumitec demo board above is that while all those light fixtures are only connected to the same simple two-wire 12v power circuit, each can be switched, dimmed, strobed, color-changed and more, individually or as virtual groups. Lumitec calls the protocol Power Line Instructions (PLI), and, as innovative as it is, it had to share top honors in the electronics category with another new-protocol-based product, and we judges wished we could give out more awards. The boats of the future may be emerging from the fog...

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