July 2011 Archives

Raymarine e7, a major refresh!

Jul 28, 2011


The Raymarine e7 being announced today may be the most important launch of the year, because it's not only a hot new 7-inch MFD design but it also marks a complete refresh of Ray's multifunction display software. While it wisely retains the "HybridTouch" mix of touchscreen and keypad controls introduced in the E Wide Series -- though with notably fewer and bigger buttons -- I understand that the underlying code began at zero several years ago. And I see a lot of fresh interface ideas in the many product photos you'll find after the break. But while the e7 will network with up to five other e7s and all sorts of existing Raymarine sensors and black boxes, it apparently will not network with existing Ray MFDs, which may be the downside of a complete software rewrite {correction: will network with E Wide and G series MFDs, see comment}. But then again, it surely can make some interesting new connections...

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Life Gear LED Glow Sticks, a nav light solution for tenders?

Jul 27, 2011

As much as it bugs me that 34 out of 35 sailboats in the Northeast don't use radar reflectors, I am entirely willing to cut us all some slack for not using navigation lights on dinghies and tenders. But while a serious nav light install is hard to pull off on small boats, I'm having surprisingly good luck with the inexpensive 200 Hour LED Glow Sticks pictured above...

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Dan Corcoran (b393capt) | Permalink | Comments (17)

Poly-Planar MRD80i, another safe spot for digital audio

Jul 26, 2011

My photograph could be better, but hopefully it's clear that the Poly-Planar MRD80i has its own solution for docking iPods and iPhones safely inside a waterproof marine stereo. Instead of supplying a variety of sleeves so that different-size iThings can be inserted into the dock, like Fusion does, the 80i uses a drawer with a cushioned pad, a hook'n'loop hold down, and a wired connector. The docking process takes a tad longer but you'll never have to look for a box of sleeves when a guest brings a different model of iPod aboard, or you change up. And that's just the beginning of what makes this digital-media-friendly stereo different from Fusion's...

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The Travel 1003, a serious case of Torqeedo love

Jul 25, 2011


About two months ago I received a Torqeedo Travel 1003 for long term testing, I've used it almost every day since, and, well, the title tells the story. I simply adore this electric outboard! Admittedly certain personal traits may be in play. Historically small gas outboards are a significant exception to my generally high success rate with mechanical boating issues; possibly related is my annoyance with the smell and noise of the damn things (and the hearing aids don't help); and, finally, a faulty shoulder makes starting even a lawn mower somewhat painful. But then again I did not fall so hard for the original Travel 801 model that I tried in 2009...

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Inmarsat FleetBroadband airtime changes, bad news for the little guys?

Jul 21, 2011

It seems that on July 1 Inmarsat rather harshly changed the game for boaters who have a Fleet Broadband system but only use its data and/or voice services occasionally. I emphasize "seems" because the intricacies of satellite airtime rates are daunting. That's largely because Inmarsat wholesales airtime to distribution partners like Stratos and Vizada who then resell it to service providers like KVH, the SatPhoneStore, and many others who finally package it up in innumerable ways for the masses. It's hard to figure out what's going on, let alone who's responsible...

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The Passive Radar Reflector Solution for Sailboats

Jul 21, 2011

July 2006, Block Island Sound is enveloped in patchy fog, two radar-equipped sailboats pass within 20 feet after failing to detect each other despite calm waters. Neither vessel had a radar reflector hoisted. July 2009, chaos on Block Island Sound as fog descends on hundreds of recreational boaters, skippers constantly calling out on VHF 9 & 16 in attempts to avoid collision. A ferry and a coast guard ship actually do collide. In the melee, just 1 of every 35 boats is sporting a radar reflector. July 2010, dozens of boats make their way through hours of heavy rain and thunderstorms into Nantucket Island, and only 2 have radar reflectors.  May 30, 2011, 30 sailboats travel in heavy fog across Long Island Sound from Huntington to Saugatuck, the heavy fog was forecast...the number of boats sporting radar reflectors...just one.
   Geez, when did safety slip to the bottom of sailor's priority list?  Are radar reflectors so difficult to use?  Too confusing maybe?   Or is there an overall lack of faith they are worth the effort to hoist?  

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Dan Corcoran (b393capt) | Permalink | Comments (34)

Raymarine AIS650 & AIS350: smaller, better, and somewhat familiar

Jul 19, 2011

Yesterday Raymarine issued a press release announcing replacements for its existing AIS receiver and Class B transponder, which I'll link to when possible. But, in fact, some online dealers are already offering the AIS650 Class B transponder, as well as the AIS350 receiver, and they also bear a family resemblance to the new generation SRT OEM gear discussed in June, which is not a bad thing (and no big surprise given that SRT announced a strategic agreement with one of "the world's top three marine electronics companies" last February). Let's see if we can figure out what's new and different...

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First Mate MS thermal camera, FLIR does it again!

Jul 15, 2011

When FLIR introduced the original First Mate in late 2009, it was a breakthrough product as it was the first true marine handheld thermal camera and the base model could be had for only $3,000. Well, holy cow, check out the First Mate MS version being introduced today: it's the same core thermal technology in a much smaller package with several significant improvements and a $1,000 price reduction!  But those who purchased one of the original HM models shouldn't cry just yet, as they retain a unique mode of use that you may not have even tried yet...

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Hemisphere GPS compass; from ComNav, Si-Tex, & True Heading!

Jul 14, 2011

I first saw this notably svelte GPS compass -- it's only 16.5 inches long and less than 3 inches high -- at the Miami Boat Show, as the ComNav Vector G1 (PDF here). It measures not just heading (to 0.6° accuracy) but rate of turn, pitch, roll, heave, position, COG, and SOG, and it can purportedly deliver all this data via NMEA 0183 or 2000, some at up 20 Hz (i.e. 20 updates per second). When Si-Tex recently introduced a very similar looking device dubbed the Vector 3D, I started poking around and discovered that at least the basic technology is actually built by Hemisphere GPS as the V102 and it's also sold as the True Heading Vector Carbon. I have no problem with multi badging of products like this, but it seems like it takes the literature from all these models to best understand the device, and there are still some mysteries...

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Sabre LaunchPad, the Yacht.com cloud idea

Jul 12, 2011

It hasn't gotten much press yet, but Sabre Yachts recently introduced something called LaunchPad, which is a collection of boat specific apps and services that purchasers of certain Sabre models will receive on an iPad2. I haven't yet seen a demo, but besides manuals for everything, the user will purportedly be able to report service issues using the pad's email and camera functions and a full service history will acrue on the pad and on a land-based server (lest the pad goes swimming). Of course there's much more that the LaunchPad bundle might do aboard, like control a specific AV system, but further good news is that it will eventually be available for many existing Sabre owners -- because Sabre has kept an archive of manuals and specs -- and perhaps to many other boat brands because LaunchPad is based on the ambitious Yacht.com idea...

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