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Gizmo's air draft sensor & my Panbo 8th

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 14, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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This was Thursday's little challenge. It's what I've starting calling a "trawler bridge": a span high enough to let motor cruisers get at some good anchoring and/or gunkholing, but not so high that they have to share it with pesky sailboats. I kid, of course, but I had spied out a great little spot on Norfolk's Lafayette River (Google Map here) to ride out the frontal passage and it would likely be free because there's only 24-feet under this bridge at high tide. However, I wasn't absolutely sure that Gizmo's mighty antenna farm met that requirement...

C-Maps in Coastal Explorer, never enough charts!

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 11, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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Yes, it sure looks like overkill -- and this shot doesn't even include the iPad that's often mounted here at Gizmo's lower helm -- but I've definitely found ways to put all these screens to work. In this particular scene the boat is crawling out of a very shallow back creek (actually called Back Creek) where we'd hidden from the worst of a cold gusty low that had me wondering if spring would ever materialize. It was still gusting in the high 20's and that's only 2.8 feet under the StructureScan transducer that's fastened to the keel forward. If you look closely you'll see many chart types, including the C-Map Max format now well supported by Coastal Explorer. The day before I'd gotten a serious reminder about the value of multi charting...

inReach SE, will the screen do it?

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 4, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I was so focused on finally heading north that I forgot the April 1 announcement of DeLorme's new inReach SE, even though one standard step in getting Gizmo underway these days is firing up the original inReach for tracking, messaging, and much more (as discussed here last fall). But my forgetfulness does not indicate a lack of appreciation for the new model (which I've already handled briefly in prototype form). To the contrary, I think the SE (Screen Edition)  will likely make a lot of boaters as enthusiastic about the whole inReach concept as I've already become...

Paul's Cape Dory 25, just doing it!

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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What the heck? This morning In Myrtle Beach it was the same frosty 36 degrees as it was in Camden, Maine. I've got lots more install work I can do before heading north, but it's fun to check out the odd lot of early ICW cruisers who turn into Osprey Marina's narrow entrance channel. Particularly curious was this venerable Cape Dory 25 that came in looking like it had been knocking around at sea. In fact it had just come non-stop and single-handed from St. Augustine, Florida,  and had gotten there mostly offshore from Cape May, New Jersey, just last month. Yes, in February, and the owner's previous sailing experience was aboard a Sunfish on a lake. I had to know more!

Gizmo's antenna mast 2013: FLIR, Rogue, Wilson & more

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 25, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I've heard it said that if you heeded all the manufacturer advice about antenna placement, you'd need a boat 100-feet long with four or five masts. I've been meaning to ask Panbo readers about how to best use Gizmo's single (though beefy) antenna mast, but instead I went and rejiggered everything last week and your advice will have to wait for the next revision. What mainly drove the change is the long term loan of a FLIR M-Series camera system, which certainly deserves the premier masthead position...

The Equinox, celestial mechanics & pesky "True Wind"

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 20, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I'm not a pagan but my first wedding was on the Summer Solstice in 1976 and the second was on the Vernal Equinox in 1993. So, yes indeed, today we're celebrating twenty years wonderfully together (though right now about a thousand miles physically apart). But I want to write about what largely drove those wedding date decisions: my fascination with celestial mechanics, largely acquired through marine navigation, particularly the celestial kind. I learned about the apparent and true motions of the heavenly bodies, the foundations of geography, and what makes this such a balanced day on earth... 

MIBS CZone tour, enabling the car-like boat

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 18, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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In Miami Actuant Electrical invited a few boating writers like Ed Sherman, Steve D'Antonio and myself to tour several production boats that have chosen to use BEP CZone distributed power and digital switching systems. A highlight for me was getting to hear the founder of Scout Boats explain why he would do such a crazy thing. I joke of course -- and there's an argument that you have to be a little nuts to build boats anyway -- but Steve Potts (seen to the right of BEP's Jarrod Sagar above and interviewed here in Soundings) made a compelling case for why systems like CZone are critical to creating boats that really truly modern customers...

Furuno at MIBS 2013; CHIRP, FCV587/627, and NavPilot FPS8

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 12, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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When I was at the in-water powerboat portion of the Miami show before it opened one morning, I discovered Furuno marketing manager Jeff Kauzlaric and product manager Eric Kunz making video. Of course I interrupted them for a photo but I was also hoping to see their long-rumored CHIRP fishfinder in action. But while it turned out that the big sonar screen behind Eric was not showing CHIRP, Furuno did announce the new DFF1-UHD during the show and Eric showed me the nifty NavPilot Safe Helm and Power Assist modes just about ready for release...

My Pebble, more PAN in Panbo

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 9, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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I've been waiting so long that disappointment loomed large. It was mid-April last year when I became a Kickstarter 'backer' in the Pebble E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android, which really just meant that I might get a good deal by buying one upfront for delivery the following September. But I wasn't the only geek who thought they'd sniffed out a bargain. Though Pebble's Kickstarter goal was only $100,000, almost 69,000 backers sent them over 10 million dollars! Which was neat in the sense that the Pebble people could then make the watch waterproof and add other features, but not so great in that suddenly they had a LOT of watches to build, which took much longer than 'estimated'. However, I've been smiling about Pebble ever since I opened my mailbox last week and found the box with "It's Time" printed on it in large, ironic type...

AC34 Mark/VIP vessels, seeking perfection

Written by Dan Corcoran on Mar 7, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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A visit to the America's Cup World Series in Newport, RI in June 2012 provided an opportunity to tour the engineering spaces and helm of this second-generation mark/VIP boat as a follow-up to Ben's visit to hull number one. Before the engineering tour I spent the day on the race course in the vessel's predecessor, observing the racing and learning what drove the design improvements to this latest generation.