March 2011 Archives

Jeppesen C-Map app, Plan2Nav previewed

Mar 31, 2011

I only got a poor photograph in Miami when Jeppesen let us peek at the soon-to-come C-Map charting app for iPads, and so I'm tickled that they send over a selection of screen shots. While they're still not saying when the app will be available, I guess we should understand that besides the software itself they're also tasked with building a system that enables users to buy and download chart regions in what is probably a special format...

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SevenSeasU, and my webinar debut

Mar 30, 2011

I'm really not looking for more work in my life, but I failed to resist an invitation from Seven Seas U to at least dip a toe into their online education program. I'm impressed with what SSU has created, as well as a few recorded sessions on weather and SSB I reviewed, and I'm also intrigued with "webinar" technology (even if the name grates). While it's true that a few I've attended "live" have been marred by connection, sound, and/or screen problems, it does seem like an efficient way to teach a subject and have some back-and-forth with the class, and SSU seems to have the tech part down.  So tomorrow night at 8pm EDT I debut a webinar on modern marine radars, and you're invited...

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Edda Fjord, what a workboat

Mar 29, 2011

When we weren't learning about Navico and NSS, Palma Harbor offered sights aplenty. Like the 133m (437') superyacht Al Mirqab, owned by an emir who purportedly rarely visits her. I'd love to hang around her bridge myself, but not nearly as much as that full-beam, glass-all-round beauty on the mighty Edda Fjord. I'd spotted her in Palma from my desk in Maine, thanks to Marine Traffic, and cajoled the Simrad demo boat to head over to the heavy duty end of the harbor for a look see. She's called a Multipurpose Platform Supply Vessel, or MPSV, and I have a strong affinity for the type because I got some of my first solid sea time on toddler-size supply boats (about 140-feet) in the early 70's, way off New Orleans. But whereas a lot of Edda's alluring details are available, you too might get intriqued...

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Navico 2011, firing on all cylinders?

Mar 28, 2011

It was just coincidence that all the leather seating on this rather amazing Albatro 50 RIB was darn close to Simrad's shade of red, but you had to wonder as Navico seemed to think of everything  when it came to the launch of the Simrad NSS touch-screen MFD series in Palma, Spain. First there were detailed presentations on the state of Navico, where Simrad and NSS fit into the brand and product matrix, and just how the NSS was developed (which included lots of before and during usability testing). Then each of the nearly fifty magazine writers got four demo sessions aboard an appropriate selection of the ten highly varied yachts Simrad had rigged with NSS and selections of what has become a large family of NS display and system options. And throughout the two days we had all sorts of Navico/Simrad staff to ask questions of, and they all seemed to know the products well...

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Simrad NSS series, touch sensible?

Mar 23, 2011

Say hello to Simrad's new NSS Sport series of multifunction displays -- the NSS7, NSS8, and NSS12 -- which are making their global debut today. They seem to have all the capabilities of the NSE series (which they can network with) plus a built-in GPS and, in the case of 7- and 8-inch sizes, a built-in Broadband fishfinder as well, along with quite competitive price tags (suggested retail prices of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 respectively). But the key feature is an LED backlit touch screen that is nearly as bright (1200 nits) as the NSE's (1500), and which Simrad has used to create a combination knob, button, and touch interface it's calling "Touch Sensible"...

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On the road, w/ three bears and a cloud

Mar 22, 2011


At the risk of causing uncontrollable laughter, this is the pile of personal technology I dragged along to the Miami Boat Show last month. Not just one computer, not even two, but a Three Bears family of processing and connectivity. And while it was intended as a (perhaps extreme) reporting and traveling kit, it makes pretty good sense on a boat too...

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Life next to the Fast Lane

Mar 21, 2011

"Or how I gave up a boat load of electronics and learned to be happy sailing with just two gadgets!" is the subtitle of this guest entry by the good Sandy Daugherty.  And while it may set a new length record for Panbo entries, I think you'll agree that heavy cutting would have been foolish.  The man's got a story to tell, and he tells it well.  Over to Sandy...

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Accessory GPS for iPads plus: Dual XGPS150 vs Bad Elf

Mar 19, 2011

Over the last few weeks I've enjoyed testing two of the very few Apple-certified devices that can supply GPS to a WiFi-only iPad, as well as the iPod Touch.  They are the Bad Elf, which is available at Amazon for $99, and the Dual XGPS 150, similarly available at Amazon for $100.  The news is all good; both worked fine with every charting and mapping app I tried, which were many (a few here), and I think both validate the premise discussed when the Elf was first announced, that it's unnecessary to buy a 3G iPad just to get the GPS.  I must say, though, that the Bad Elf might have better prospects if the Dual hadn't come along so soon...

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AIS, a threat to our liberty?

Mar 16, 2011

I remember a few years ago when some boaters worried about "Big Brother" style AIS surveillance while the IMO fretted about hobbyists using shore receivers to display real time coastal AIS info on the Web.  But all that seemed to go away, because -- I think -- people realized that AIS is indeed a public information network and that there is nothing especially threatening about its use by agencies or amateurs.  But today I was struck by a "fatcat1111" comment stating that "I absolutely do not want to update the Fed with my location every 30 seconds" and that he or she hadn't felt that way until they read the Practical Sailor article above by marine safety expert Ralph Naranjo.  Well, maybe I'm completely blind about "personal freedom" but I've read Ralph's article a few times now, and I just don't get it...

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The LightSquared problem, time to join "Save Our GPS"?

Mar 14, 2011

When many readers sent me the GPS World article on GPS jamming, I was blasé.  How could the U.S. government possibly allow LightSquared to put up 4,600 transcievers pumping broadband data services in the L band with such power that they'd significantly interfere with nearby GPS frequencies? As in complete failure at over half a mile for a high quality civilian GPS receiver like the nüvi 265W, even under an open sky, and almost six miles for a critical GNS 430W aviation unit (according to lab testing done by Garmin and Trimble, results PDF here).  But then again I never thought our government would be dumb enough to kill the eLoran GPS back-up system just to save a few dollars...

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