Category: History

3

My Garmin GPS 45 was amazing in 1994, and it still works (mostly)

Discovering that my old Garmin GPS 45 still works was especially nostalgic because Gizmo and I were returning from WoodenBoat School, one of the first places I used it 25 years ago. Many memories that far back are foggy, but it’s easy to recall how much this wonderful gadget helped me to stay safe and relaxed even when trying to teach beginners how to sail and navigate in big tides, cold water, and real fog…

2

My Walker taffrail log, designed centuries ago and still working

I certainly agree with DownEast magazine’s choice for a top 10 iconic Maine image. Heck, I still remember relishing this photo of Captain Lincoln Colcord grinning his way around the Cape of Good Hope at the turn of the 19th century about 72 years later. It’s stirring stuff, and so maybe is that navigation gadget spinning off the miles on the hunky taffrail…

15

The Equation of Time, old time navigation know-how in the modern world

If you ever messed with celestial navigation, you probably understand why even a perfectly installed sundial can be off by more than 15 minutes at some times of the year. But let’s recap on this shortest and darkest of days — in the Northern Hemisphere, that is — and I’ll also discuss how my old celestial nav skills recently helped with some very modern technology…

6

Land Rover BAR, can this AC35 tech partnership “bring the Cup home”?

Land_Rover_BAR_tech_press_conference_NYC_cPanbo.jpg

At this press conference in New York City on Saturday, May 7th, the UK’s largest automobile manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, made the case that their support of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) in America’s Cup 35 is not just about marketing. It’s also a technology partnership that may be critical to finally bringing the Cup back to England, which both parties would really, really like to do. I completely bought the story and I was especially feeling my inner Brit after taking in the rest of the weekend’s AC World Series pageantry off lower Manhattan…

19

On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electronics

Alan_Watson_on board_HMS_Medusa.JPGThere’s much to report about my three day visit with the Raymarine product development team, but the impromptu kicker was a visit to HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launch) #1387, and the vessel’s key story couldn’t be more timely. 70 years ago yesterday, well before D-Day H-Hour, 1387 headed toward Normandy loaded with electronics that helped her crew precisely mark the planned final channel to Omaha Beach, first for the minesweepers and then for the vast fleet of landing craft that left Portsmouth behind her. And today she’s headed for France again, this time with an all volunteer crew led by Alan Watson, the gentleman who so kindly showed me around last evening.

24

Geeks win America’s Cup 34, Larry E. & Oracle Team USA also

AC34_floating_mark_cPanbo.jpg“Pretty cool…ESPN says one of the greatest upsets in sports history!” my brother-in-law emailed me last night, and he’s a guy who knows who pitched World Series games decades ago, and how well, but bupkis about the America’s Cup. Yes indeed, AC34 was incredibly unpredictable, and exciting, but I’ll argue that the winners all along were the teams who made the race management, umpiring, and broadcasting so innovative and so effective…

12

Electronics nostalgia, 1984 transatlantic

1984_Swan_59_Hi_Ya.JPG

This was my view from a borrowed mooring on Saturday night, and it was quite a nostalgic one as my one and only transatlantic was sailed aboard this very same Nautor Swan 59 from the Canary Islands to Martinique in December, 1984.  It’s hard to believe how very techy the boat’s electronics seemed at the time, how much they’ve changed since, and yet how old school they look today…

4

Helping Heloise, to preserve digital charts

PINS_9000_courtesy_UK_NMM.JPG

This, friends, is a screen shot from a circa 1980’s Offshore Systems PINS 9000 digital chart system. And it’s a rare image indeed.  One of the odd things about the fast moving world of electronic charting is how ephemeral it is.  To get the best historical sense of what early digital chart plotting was like you really need the hardware powered up on a moving vessel, or at least connected to some simulated inputs.  But the truth is that even decent photographs and/or screen shots of early plotters are hard to find.  That’s the problem Dr.
Heloise Finch-Boyer of the UK National
Maritime Museum
has run into, and I’m hoping that some Panbo readers can help her…