Is it true news that "NOAA wants to stop making NOAA charts"?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 30, 2017

Landfall_email_NOAA_Wants_to_Stop_Making_NOAA_Charts_cPanbo.jpgI'm a longtime fan of Landfall Navigation and I'm sure their intentions were good when they emailed this call to action Friday afternoon. But please don't file a comment or call your congressman without looking deeper into the "news" that NOAA plans to discontinue all (paper-chart-like) raster files. In my read the end of rasters is only a far future possibility suggested in a recently published National Charting Plan that has some real meat (discussed below), and I'd be flabbergasted if it happened soon, or ever at the expense of important chart detail. Let's judge NOAA on facts, not fearful conjecture...

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Monitoring 2017: Siren, QuikTrak, DotMobile, Yacht Protector, GOST, Maretron, Boat Command & GoFree

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 23, 2017

MIBS2017_Siren_Marine_Dan_Harper_cPanbo.jpgThere was so much going on with remote boat monitoring, tracking, and control at the Miami International Boat Show that I started wondering if 2017 would be the year this technology takes off. I've long thought that many boat owners would really appreciate the peace of mind offered by good monitoring if only they experienced it. And while this hardware/service category is confusing because there are so many things that can be done in so many ways, wow, there sure are a lot of companies that hope to help you experience it...

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Glomex USA, Shakespeare and the search for better antenna cabling systems

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 14, 2017

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Recently I struggled installing a typical marine antenna with its included cable and annoying 0.71-inch (18 mm) diameter PL-259 connector. I could have cut the coax, run the cable, and attached a new PL-259, but I'm not sure that any human can install a cable connector as well as a machine, and certainly not me. That's why it's nice that Glomex now offers a variety of antennas and machine-made cables that use 0.35-inch (9mm) FME connectors. But for U.S. boaters, the Glomex news is better still...

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Garmin acquires ActiveCaptain, now what?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 11, 2017

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This morning Garmin purchased ActiveCaptain and I have no idea if that will turn out to be good news or otherwise. Will this large and growing database of crowdsourced cruising information change now that it belongs to a major electronics brand? I have no bold opinions but I do have lots of questions I hope to discuss...

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News+: Victron Venus, CruzPro SOG2, DY WindSense, Vaavud Ultrasonic, & Panbo "News+"

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

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Victron's new Venus GX is a dauntingly complicated looking blue box, but it could beautifully simplify and improve the monitoring and control of a boat's electrical power system. Essentially, Venus is a Color Control GX without the screen, which makes it less expensive, and it also has extra goodies like 3 tank level and 2 temperature inputs, built-in WiFi, and yet more I/O that hasn't been enabled yet. The Color Control has evolved (and been used) a lot since I wrote about it in 2014, and Venus can do more...

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Sabre 66: excellence in digital switching and control

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

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Frankly, there's no plan behind the Panbo trend of more detailed entries posted less often, but sometimes it does seem like a feature rather than a bug. For instance, Sabre gave me a long and impressive systems tour of their first Dirigo 66 while she beautifully occupied this slip at Yachts Miami Beach 2016, and while I didn't intend to delay the write-up this long, last week I got aboard just-launched hull #3 the day before heading from Maine to Florida at about 25 knots. So I have additional detail on how well the original system design has worked out - also impressive...

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MV Dirona: deep cruising, deeply shared

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 5, 2017

MV_Dirona_with_Jen_and_James_cPanbo.jpgIf there were a lifetime award for cruising excellence, I think that Jennifer and James Hamilton would deserve at least a nomination. I mean excellence at the core practical cruising skills -- seamanship and boat care -- plus inspirational levels of curiosity about the vast world cruising makes accessible, and perhaps at the top of my imagined award criteria: distinction at sharing all of the above with the rest of us. Visiting M/V Dirona in Belfast, Maine, last October was a treat, but you too can ride along as this Nordhavn heads to Ireland and beyond...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

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

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium's least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate's existing communications system...

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MIBS 2017: Furuno standalone 1815 radar, DFF-3D multimodal sonar & more

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

MIBS17_Furuno_1815_standalone_radar_cPanbo.jpgWhile Furuno USA had a lot to show off at the Miami Boat Show, let's start with the new 1815 standalone radar. Recent Panbo entries about Raymarine's sleek new Axiom Series multifunction displays and Navico's ambitious systems integration strategy drew some keep-it-simple skeptics. But it is still possible to find single function marine electronics if that's your preference, and the 1815 may be an excellent small radar choice packing a whole lot of performance for the price...

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Navico Hawks 2017: "Full boat integration into one display cluster"

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 27, 2017

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The Miami Boat Show was loaded with marine electronics news, but first let's visit the Navico writers event held at Hawks Cay, Florida, earlier this month. Deeper still - Mercury engine integration, B&G Zeus PredictWind weather routing, the Halo radar VelocityTrack Doppler upgrade, Navionics SonarChart Live everywhere, Simrad's new 3kW 3-channel S5100 super sonar, and Lowrance Carbon (Gen3) MFDs are some of the goodies that were demonstrated and/or discussed. But I was especially taken with CEO Leif Ottosson's opening "big picture" presentation and think it's valuable to anyone interested in the future of boating...

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