April 2012 Archives

The Aegean loss, would AIS have helped?

Apr 30, 2012

It is quite chilling to see this photo of the Hunter 376 Aegean taken at the Friday start of the Newport to Ensenada Race (by Susan Hoffman) with the knowledge that the boat was "smashed to bits" that night and that all four crew were lost. We may never know exactly what happened, but the folks who found what was left seem convinced that Aegean was run over by a much larger vessel and some of the reports claim that she was in or near a shipping lane (though I don't see it marked on any chart I have). While I certainly don't want to question the wisdom of a skipper/owner who was reportedly scrupulous about safety issues or a race committee that hasn't had a prior fatality in the 65 year history of this event, don't we have to wonder if AIS could have helped?...

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Kannad R10 AIS MoB beacon gets FCC approval, but not easily!

Apr 26, 2012

Kannad Marine's SafeLink R10 SRS (for Survivor Rescue System) just received FCC approval, and it's about time given that this personal AIS SART was introduced in Miami more than a year ago!  But let's give Kannad a break as getting innovative safety hardware like this through the approval process is not trivial. Just skimming through all the documents filed with the FCC was an eye opener, and the company had already spent many months (and dollars) getting EU approval.  Before discussing those details, though, let's look at how easy-to-use yet capable the finished product is. The collage above illustrates the activation process (click on it for a bigger image) and I personally love how a bit of cord is rigged both to keep all of the R10 attached to your life jacket or clothing and to remove the orange Arming Tag and the red Activation Cap in two quick motions. It's also key to the automatic activation possible when the four ounce R10 is "professionally fitted" to certain inflatable life jackets (as detailed on Kannad's R10 web page...

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Siren Marine, best cellular boat monitoring yet?

Apr 25, 2012

I like receiving an "I'm OK" text message from Gizmo every day, even if she is still sitting in the middle of Wayfarer's back lot, and I'm becoming confident that the Siren Marine Sprite I'm testing will be very useful once it and the boat are fully commissioned. I'll be able to set security or anchor drag geofences and not only get a warning if Gizmo moves but also precise tracking messages about where she goes. And whether on board or ashore I'll get a head's up if the refrigeration fails or if the bilges fill, or whatever other on/off sensor I hook up. I could even control, say, the deck lights with my cell phone, which might be fun when going aboard in the dark or if I get an intruder warning...

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LED interior boat lighting, perfection in sight?

Apr 23, 2012


Switching Gizmo's interior lighting to LEDs seems like a no-brainer, especially given the horridly inefficient incandescent lighting she came with. For instance, I ran that either/or dual dome light comparison at lower left all last season and it was hard to tell the difference between the light outputs of the two bulbs, except that the $30 Imtra "Tower" LED replacement bulb is slightly warmer in color and draws only about 2 Watts (.23 amps at 12.4v) while the freaking filament bulb draws 15! But though there are more and more choices in replacement bulbs and fixtures -- with prices down and LED light output up -- there are still numerous issues to consider and I don't think that boats like mine have seen the perfect LED choice yet...

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AquaBotix AquaLens, eye's on

Apr 19, 2012
AquaBotix AquaLens in Maine cPanbo.jpg

It's hard not play Panbo hooky during this superfine Spring in Maine, but I have been doing some testing even as I get Gizmo ready for a full season of it. You may recall my September entry about the new underwater cam company AquaBotix; well, above is their AquaLens boat hook cam at work in Camden Harbor. Click on the thumbnail above for a better look at the running gear of the able work and passenger vessel Harvest Moon. With the little LCD screen strapped to my wrist and the cam/LED control box clipped to my belt, I could move around and handle the boat hook fairly easily (as long as I didn't trip on the cable). And, while the water isn't always this clear here, I was able to inspect the hull pretty thoroughly, and even found a foot-long section of missing bottom paint, or worse, that Capt. Rob didn't know about...

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KEP dual touch marine monitor, in the real world

Apr 16, 2012

Here's one way to test a newly installed KEP Marine Glass Bridge Monitor, supposedly the first with dual touch technology (which happens to work well with Windows 7). The owner of this J160 racer/cruiser was purportedly very happy with it last season, but there was, in fact, a problem getting the touchscreen signals to consistently make the 25 foot trip from the helm to the nav station PC below. Adam White (left) -- former electronics guy and now service manager at Yankee Marina & Boatyard -- worked with KEP to solve the issue...

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Hint.fm Wind Map, genius!

Apr 13, 2012

It's a beautiful data graphic even as a static screenshot, but you must check out Hint.fm's live Wind Map. Is it just me or is Wind Map the best presentation of macro wind direction and speed ever? It let me almost feel what that big low over the upper Midwest was doing yesterday, and if I was teaching weather I'll bet this is a live graphic that would help students truly get it. And while the two talents behind Hint.fm may characterize Wind Map as "a personal art project" I can't help but wonder how this presentation style and data source might benefit boaters...

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The ACRM 13 Mark/VIP boat, want a ride?

Apr 12, 2012

The first day of AC 45 racing in Naples yesterday made for must-see YouTube video, and must have been quite an initiation for the six new Mark/VIP boats. For instance, did the Volvo Penta IPS dynamic positioning I saw being tested in San Diego on hull #1 actually work in these very rough conditions? I'm also curious why there seem to be so few "VIP" spectators on board as the mark boats seem like a sensational spot to watch the racing. Yesterday I thought it might be for safety reasons, but today the conditions I saw on the live feed were much more mellow...

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Marinco Miami, the EEL & Precision wireless spotlight

Apr 10, 2012

EEL purportedly stands for Easily Engaged Locking system but perhaps more to the point are the strong and sleek eel-like jaws of Marinco's new shorepower connector. It's designed to work with existing screw-on-ring inlets -- like Marinco's own 30 and 50 amp models -- except that now you can easily and quickly make the connection with one hand. The EEL even has a built-in LED light for orienting the blades, but just grabbing the jaws tends to orient the plug correctly anyway, so hooking up is just a matter of a little twist and then letting the jaws grab the inlet threads. There's also a secondary lock though the product manager at Marinco's Miami press conference suggested that it was more about peace of mind than necessity. Those jaws are apparently moray eel strong, but is the EEL a sufficient response to the Smart Plug challenge?...

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Whale Alert, an app with a mission

Apr 7, 2012
Whale Alert main screen.jpg

It's an unusual app that gets a press conference and main stream media attention, and Whale Alert certainly deserves it. It's not just that this app might actually save the lives of some rare right whales -- which would be wonderful -- but it also demonstrates how mobile devices can be a critical integration tool between mariners and various governmental and nonprofit agencies, and between even a big ship's conservative electronics and the dynamic world of app development...

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