December 2007 Archives

Hello 2008, and Gizmo the Large

Dec 31, 2007


Big Gizmo? Gizmo the Large? Maybe just plain Gizmo, and add a “Li’l”—you know, in small letters on a diagonal—to the original (especially easy as I haven’t yet repainted the li’l darlin’ since the thief bastards scrapped the decals off). So, yeah, I’m sitting here fussing about boat names when, in fact, I may have completely lost my mind. That strange, yet oh-so-slippery hull above is a prototype for the Maine Cat P45 about to go into production down the road in Bremen, and P45 #4 now has my name, and deposit check, on it. (Hence my encouragement toward any boat nut who treats himself well.)

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Nav software info, in Mad quantities

Dec 28, 2007

MadMariner screen

A subscription-based online boating magazine? Yeah, right! At first I thought the Mad Mariner concept darn right mad. But not anymore, and that’s not because it became a (highly appreciated) Panbo Sponsor. MM has been rapidly building a body of work that’s worth paying for. A particularly good example is their Navigation Software series. Primary authors Diana and Mark Doyle, who also create Managing the Waterway guides, set out to test and review every PC and Mac charting program available, including the free ones, and they’ve done an outstanding job. You’ll never see reviews this lengthy and thorough in a magazine. Actually there’s already a book’s worth of nav software information at Mad Mariner, with just about every program I know of covered, and apparently more resource material and gosh-knows-what to come. In fact, to my knowledge, there is no equivalent book in the print world, and if there is it certainly wouldn’t be this up to date. Plus MM has a lot of other electronics coverage spread amongst its articles and blogs, not to mention something new of general boat-nut interest posted every day. Some Mad Mariner content is available to anyone, and there’s a free 30 day trial of the whole site, but, what the heck, why not treat to youself to a year’s subscription? That’s my mood. As I’ll explain on Monday, I’ve gone and treated my boating passion very well indeed. 

“Sorry Breeze Pleeze”, a happy ending

Dec 27, 2007

Here’s a post-Christmas guest entry from Dan Corcoran (b393capt), who wishes all a great holiday, as do I.

B393capt with Christmas sailboat tie

At the end of my last rant here on Panbo, I was resigned to spending my Christmas opening tie's (see above) and eating fruitcake. The picture above is in fact me opening my first present of the evening, which as fate would have it, was a blue tie. (Thanks Mom!  It really is an exquisite tie, with impressive but subtle inlaid sailboat images that will compliment my best business suit.)  But there was nothing to be sad about. Breeze Pleeze did pretty well tonight.

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State of the art, 25 years ago

Dec 26, 2007


To heck with all the 2007 “best of…” lists, let’s reminisce. It’s 1984, the 47’ sloop Civais has just joined the list of new builds at the Paul Luke yard in Boothbay, Maine, and she’s sporting about as spiffy an electronics package as I recall from the era. Check the bigger picture here. That’s an International Offshore digital depth sounder and alarm at upper left, a back up perhaps to the Raytheon combination flasher and recording fathometer at the upper right. There’s also a Furuno CRT radar, with hood, just above the Trimble Navigation Loran C unit. Stacked just to their right, starting at the top, is a Stephens Engineering AM/SS radio telephone, a Magnovox satellite navigator (Transit, not GPS), and some sort of VHF radio (can’t make out the brand). Finally there’s weather fax (Alden?) and some sort of box that might be an antenna switch or tuner. And I dare say there are some spiffy old instruments in the cockpit. I doubt that any one piece of gear talks to any other, via NMEA 0183, 2000, Ethernet, or any other protocol. The good old days? Nah, but easier to get your installer head around. This photo is another from the great Red Boutilier Collection, courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum. More can enjoyed at Reminisce!

PS On the book shelf is one of the better—and certainly the most humorous—star finding books I know, The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey (yes, the same man who created Curious George). And it’s still available.

Merry Christmas, and a happy M.E. year

Dec 22, 2007


I don’t have a good marine Christmas image like last year’s, but I do know where to steal a goofy marine electronics holiday card on the Internet. That would be at Echopilot, whose proprietors Mike and Susan Phillips have a tradition of creating such nonsense, and sending it to their friends in the industry. This year’s card is titled “The Echopilot products that never made it to market” and you can learn all about them here.
   I don’t know the Phillips well, but enough to know they are the good humored and proud owners a 25’ gaff rig sloop that was built in 1894! They haul the wonderfully named Tom Tit around on a custom trailor with an antique truck. On this year’s card they note a summer trip to the Crinan Classic Boat Festival in Scotland, where they “found rain and whiskey, both in industrial quantities.” But their dream is to bring Tom Tit to the coast of Maine, and that’s where you come in, dear readers. Who can come up with economical transport for Tom Tit, trailor, and truck from somewhere in Great Britain to somewhere near Maine? And who wouldn’t if they could?

Tom Tit

Nobeltec alert, & other product problems

Dec 21, 2007


Yike. It seems that Nobeltec has guaranteed its support staff a busy holiday season by issuing the ominous sounding alert above along with update 9.3.2240 to its VNS and Admiral charting software. The exact chart regions/software combinations that have the problem are listed in the bulletin, and include the Northstar 972 but not the Simrad GB60. The good news for anyone who has trouble with the update is that Nobeltec recently extended its support lines to 13 hours a day during the week and 10 hours a day on weekends. The bad news for some is that with this update Nobeltec removes the ability to import S57 vector charts—for most people that means the free ENCs offered by NOAA—and even disables those already imported.

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S/Y Aeolian, waiting for WiFi

Dec 20, 2007


Yup, check out the bigger image, it’s been snowing here again and this poor crew was getting ready to take the lovely Aeolian south for the charter season tomorrow. Yipe! Apparently this was not exactly the plan in early July when the boat was hauled (which, amazingly, is documented on You Tube). Schedules can slip when the project list includes major items like a deck overhaul, a new engine and an exotic electronics network. I might have gotten a peek but there was a little stress aboard as yesterday that network had a “melt down” when a PC was swapped out.

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More SimNet, plus the handy AT10

Dec 19, 2007


I thank Dan for yesterday’s NMEA 2000 homily (more guest blog entries welcome!), but I do want to play devil’s advocate. I’ve had my head in the Simrad Yachting 2008 catalog today (unfortunately not online yet), and I’m ever more impressed with how thoroughly the company has adopted its SimNet version of N2K. All those yellow lines in the diagram above, bigger here, represent SimNet data bearing cables (power too in many cases). I hadn’t fully realized that Simrad has N2K GPS, depth, and wind sensors as well as the rudder angle and compass that were mentioned with the new autopilots. Of course the AI50 Class B AIS would also plug and play nicely with this typical sail system, and give it a backup GPS, as long as it was powered up. And the SimNet cabling has a lot going for it, like a tiny plug that’s the same on both ends, and the ability to daisy chain, even the backbone in some cases like that RS86 VHF.

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"Sorry Breeze Pleeze", a yuletide N2K rant!

Dec 18, 2007

Sorry Breeze Pleeze

I like to think that one function of Panbo is to be a place where marine electronics enthusiasts can share their thoughts—rants included—with each other, and with the many industry folks who read the site. That usually happens via comments but guest blog entries are also welcome. Hence we have the following bitter sweet Christmas tale from Dan Corcoran (aka commenter “b393capt”). Thanks, Dan!

Sorry Breeze Pleeze, no marine electronics in your stocking this year …

My wife wants me to get something on the Christmas list for Breeze Pleeze. Cool, I would really like that. I already had a solid plan to spend the winter storage period wiring a new N2K backbone into my 39’ foot sailboat Breeze Pleeze and her two N2K capable chart-plotters. So for Christmas I would, err .. I mean, Breeze Pleeze would potentially get her first N2K component.

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More SPOT, & a Globalstar class action suit

Dec 17, 2007


The photo, bigger here , shows what a real winter we’re having on the coast of Maine, and it was taken before yesterday’s blizzard-rain-freeze event! The dashboard GPS tableau was because a motorcycle rider reported that sending a message from his SPOT may have caused his Garmin 276c to freeze up. But I drove around like this without problems (aside from getting laughed at); SPOT transmitted “OK” and “Help” messages fairly consistently, as seen earlier, and none of the plotters blinked.

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