January 2008 Archives

MTW DVD's, dump trucks of data

Jan 31, 2008


In our Panbo discussion about how to tune up your electronics and general navigation gear for the coming season, one recurring suggestion was to update your charts and reference publications. Another, less obvious, idea was to get all your manuals in PDF form, which many find easier to search, not to mention stow. Well, check out Managing the Waterway’s 2008 chart and pub DVD set, a phenomenal collection of both NOAA (and Corp of Engineers) charts—every single one available, raster and vector—and the nautical publications made available by various government and state agencies as PDF’s.

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Garmin Nuvifone, the gPhone?

Jan 30, 2008

Garmin Nuvifone

Lusting after what looks like a breakthrough cell phone, Internet tablet, video/still camera, and PND (personal navigation device) is way more fun than fretting over FCC frustrations. Garmin surprised a lot of us when it introduced the Nuvifone in NYC this evening. Sure, it looks like an iPhone but the early info suggests that it has even more going for it, especially the GPS/navigation part, but also a tight Google relationship and fast 3.5G GSM cell data. 

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FCC & Class B, Maritel's back!

Jan 30, 2008


Arghhhhhh! The FCC’s final approval of the Class B AIS ruling, already troubled, just got a lot more complicated. In the last few days a lawyer for MariTEL, Inc. has spoken directly to the legal aides for three of the five FCC Commissioners, trying to make the case that the Ruling is unfair to MariTEL. You can read the details in his “Notice of Ex Parte Communications” by going to this search form and pasting 04–344 into the top field (Proceeding). This issue goes back years, and was well explained by Fred Pot in Nov., 2003. Panbo commenter “norse” added more valuable background in that last “troubled” Class B entry. But I’m not the only one who thought the MariTEL problem was solved a while back. In fact, a MariTEL executive confirmed that to me a year or so ago.

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NMEA 2000, real world issues

Jan 29, 2008


Chris Witzgall from Apex, NC, recently wrote {slightly edited}:

Your site has been invaluable as I get back into boating after a long hiatus, and work out the electronics for our new-to-us Westerly Fulmar sailboat. I have settled on NMEA 2000. Our needs are relatively simple; here is what I have**, or will have*.

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SPOT on, Sail's innovation awards

Jan 28, 2008


Friday’s entry may not have been clear; I only meant to snipe at the New York Times (lightly), and not at Spot. In fact, Spot was one of my four picks for the electronics section of Sail’s annual Freeman K. Pittman Innovation Awards, mentioned earlier with other M.E. awards and now out in the February issue (though sadly not on line). While it is certainly not a PLB, I think Spot could be pretty useful on a boat, or ashore. But understanding well how it compares to PLBs is critical, and hence why I’m sniping at confused coverage.

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SPOT again, the confusion

Jan 25, 2008


Alas, my fantasy life is not Clark Beek exhilarating. In fact you might deem it rather pathetic, like yesterday’s imaginary turn at the New York Times copy desk red-lining the bejezum out of a blurb about SPOT. The NYT’s Circuits section is usually sharp on gadgets I already know something about, but this particular piece is loaded with mistakes and misunderstandings (bigger edit image here). Ditto the commenters section on a recent Endgadget SPOT entry (which I tried to correct). And this PLB rescue story apparently confused that technology with Spot’s before it was corrected. In fact, SPOT is racking up some rescues (see Anchorage article), and there is good dope about it on the Web (like on Panbo, I think).

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Clark Beek, way out there

Jan 24, 2008

Beek horn_022_1

Damn the Doane! Due to Charlie, my head’s stuck in maybe the funniest, and best written, cruising blog I’ve ever fallen into. That would be Clark Beek’s Adventures of the Vessel Condesa, and the post that got Charlie’s particular attention is Beek’s latest…a tale of failed charting computers, a quartet of “Bond girls”, and a hostage situation on Columbia’s remote Pacific coast. Make yourself a little reading time before you click here.

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DeLorme PN-20, first &$?!ing look

Jan 23, 2008


Sure, I’m a dite (or tad, dab, etc.) biased toward companies from Maine. I’d be excited about ActiveCaptain no matter where it was, but knowing that it’s home-based right across the Bay likely juices my enthusiasm a few percentile (and maybe the reverse bias is why my Navagear buds seem so oddly tepid on AC?). At any rate, it’s with some sadness that I’m about to skewer DeLorme, even though it’s not only very Maine but also built the world’s largest globe here. How cool is that? So I was pretty intrigued when I realized that the company’s first handheld, the Earthmate PN-20, was also the first ever (I’m pretty sure) to show NOAA raster charts. It’s also one of the first to show multiple cartography types and to let you purchase just what you need, when you need, on the Web. We’re going to see a lot of that model, and I think it has potential merits.

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Standard Horizon CPV550, another look

Jan 22, 2008


I only mentioned testing this Standard Horizon CPV550 back in Nov., and that was about a fogging problem that I’m told can be readily fixed with dessicant bags. Now my short review is out in the Feb. PMY, and I’ll add a bit more detail. Neither of these photos really does the screen justice, but above, and bigger here , is the nicely iconic main menu, which also gives some sense of all the tasks this machine can address.

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ActiveCaptain Mobile, in Beta at last

Jan 21, 2008


I’m truly excited about the imminent release of ActiveCaptain Mobile, the long awaited heir to the Outdoor Navigator (ON) PDA & smart phone charting program that went dormant two years ago. Of course we got some big hints when developers Jeff and Karen Siegel introduced the ActiveCaptain (AC) web site about a year ago. Now 5,000 boaters are registered there, and together they’ve made some 150,000 updates to its visual database of marina, anchorage, etc. cruising info. So the idea of ActiveCaptain Mobile (ACM) is to be not only an ON-style mini-plotter but also a live-anywhere connection with the AC database.

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