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Monthly Archive: August 2014

6

EchoPilot Platinum FLS, better than expected

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She: “HEY! Do you realize you’re steering right at a ledge?!?” He: “Yes, dear.” While it was a tough cruise for my lovely first mate, I did learn a lot about what an EchoPilot FLS Platinum Video Engine can actually do. If you click the photo above to full size, for instance, note how the FLS in the Garmin video window is showing especially shallow water about 55 feet ahead, though in a rather vague, pixilated manner. Note too that the more conventional and less expensive Raymarine CHIRP DownView/sonar is at least suggesting a shallowing trend. Still, as the title says, I am finding that the EchoPilot’s performance and usefulness is better than I expected, but then again — a big ‘but’ — my expectations were quite low…

7

Cruising Solutions headsets, testing the Bluetooth update

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Apparently the folks at Cruising Solutions have not forgotten that I once characterized their still popular Mariner 500 intecom headsets as “making a boater look unfashionably similar to a Soviet tank driver” and hence asked me to test their latest solution to the problem of verbal communications when captain and crew are in different areas of a boat. They are called “My Team Talks” Bluetooth headsets and they’re much more than modern looking intercoms. “Bring state-of-the-art multiplex communication technology to your boat” is not an overstatement…

10

Garmin SmartMode, and here comes Simrad Bridge

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Garmin’s SmartMode station control seemed like an obviously great idea when introduced with the 8000 Glass Helm series in early 2013. The basic feature simply let’s you group 8000 displays at a helm (station) and control what the various screens are showing all at once. But the interface designers went a smart step further by naming the default SmartModes after the overall tasks at hand instead of the conventional specifics about the tools needed, like “chart/rader/cam”. Thus the 8212 now being tested on Gizmo came with CRUISING, DOCKING, ANCHORING, and FISHING modes already suggested, and I’ve been adding my own in the same task-not-tool spirit…

8

Gizmo glass bridge MFD testing 2014, specs & prices

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Now we’re talking. Gizmo’s flybridge feels like the starship Enterprise now that the Simrad NSS16 evo2 is installed in its Seaview Power Pod and the Garmin 8212 has been moved closer to the helm since I first discussed the 2014 glass bridge install. Recent visitors tended to break into giddy laughter, but the marine electronics horsepower at my fingertips is truly phenomenal. In this scene, for instance, I’m exploring a dicey area of Camden outer harbor — hence the lack of moorings — using StructureScan and medium CHIRP sonar on the NSS16, CHIRP DownView and sonar on the gS125, and EchoPilot FLS via the Garmin’s video port. Today’s subject, though, is about how and why I selected the particular gear I hope to test and compare for quite a while…

5

MBHH Show 2014: Akalaria RC3, Dock Works utility cat & other surprises

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I knew I’d gotten Maine Yacht Center’s Brian Harris to photograph me in the comfortable driver’s seat he designed for the second Aklaria RC3 finished out at MYC, but how did the shot come out of my camera like this? Did I fall into some revery imagining the 20 knot reaching this exotic Open 40 racer is easily capable of? The 12th annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show was rich in the elegant lobster yachts and daysailors my state has become famous for, but there were also plenty of interesting surprises. Even Mainiac boat nuts don’t realize how versatile we are…

9

Siren Marine cellular boat monitoring long test, reliable & powerful

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Boat theft is very rare in Maine, but on a recent Saturday night someone apparently “borrowed” a big twin outboard off a local dock for a “joy ride” during which something was hit hard enough to hole the topsides, and then they put the boat back on the dock and vanished! To my knowledge the mystery remains unsolved, but it sure jogged my memory about the Set feature on the Siren Marine cellular monitoring system I’ve been testing for over two years. The partial phone screen above shows what happened when Gizmo moved more than about 15 meters several days after I texted the “SET” command to the Siren. First I was notified that she’d TRANSGRESsed the geofence set up by the SET command and then the Siren started texting me every five minutes with GAT (Geofence Automatic Time-based) reports that included course, speed and a lat/long link to Google Maps. I could have guided the Maine Marine Patrol to the transgressor pretty quickly, if the “villain” hadn’t been myself…

37

The DIY lithium battery bank; Bob Ebaugh has 330 cycles so far

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Bob and Elaine Ebaugh did it, leaving Florida in April, 2011, on their Defever 44 Mar Azul and spending more than two years cruising a big Carribean loop. Their blog, Mar Azul Adventures, is a good read, but you might miss the fact that during the cruise, Bob managed to research, assemble, test, and install a 1,200 amp hour do-it-yourself lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery bank to replace the 12 golf cart batteries they’d worn out. He also wrote a thorough white paper about why he chose DIY lithium and how he put the system together…