Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 24, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
Today it's wet and gray here on a mooring float in Northeast Harbor, but we're enjoying a distinctly non-electronic improvement to Gizmo's gear list. It's a new awning that stretches from the cabin brow to the bow pulpit, letting us keep the hatches open despite the rain bursts. Yesterday, when it was sunny and fairly hot, the awning shaded the forward cabin top and the main cabin's large forward windows. If it gets really hot, I'm pretty sure that the combination of the awning plus the see-through "Florida curtains" over the other big windows and maybe a small fan will make the boat as comfortable as the air conditioning unit. Actually, more so at anchor or moored, since we won't have to run the generator (that's no longer aboard anyway)...
Sailors, especially those who've spent time in the tropics, know all about the value of awnings, but for some reason you rarely see anything like this on a powerboat. I'm proud to have designed it with lots of help from Will Dennett of Aurora Sails & Canvas, who then proceeded to build it super strong and with a perfect fit out of light gray Sunbrella. I can put it up or take it down in about 10 minutes, and I'm confident that it will handle quite severe weather.
Now for some side notes called for by a full photo of Gizmo 2014: The Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom paint and Ocean Armor topsides polish are still looking good after two months. The former has collected just a shadow of the waterline slime that proliferates in Camden Harbor and the latter is still gleaming except for that surprising yellowing near the bow, which I'll monitor and hit with Davis FSR at some point. Yesterday's project was installing the trailboards with their new Aqua Signal Series 33 LED nav lights. Unfortunately, installing them made me like them less than when I wrote about them (see comment on that entry). Finally, the antenna mast is nowhere near finished. Soon I'll be installing a custom aluminum cap plate along with an Edson Vision Series mount for the FLIR M-Series nav camera, and there will also be a Garmin 24xHD radome, new cellular antennas, and more to test. And I'll be reviewing the powerful WiFi Ranger Marine2 that's up at the spreaders now.
Back to the awning: A benefit I hadn't anticipated are the dry, clear forward windows I can see well out of even in the rain. I took this photo at my 5'10" standing eye height; sitting at my desk or at the lower helm I can see the horizon in all directions and might even drive the boat a modest distance with the awning up...
which is a heck of a good segue to discussing Gizmo's fabulous new Muvman sit-stand stool. I've been struggling with a possibly arthritic left hip over the last year or so, which led me to investigate a sit-stand desk for my home office. I bought an ErgoDepot AD125 and while I was at it, thought I'd try their Muvman (with a 45 no-hassle return policy). Well, now I'm a sit-stand desk zealot! Even if lots of sitting isn't causing any obvious pain (yet), I believe that standing is a natural way to work at a desk for at least part of the day.
I also kept the Muvman despite the $600 price tag. It was great to use part of a desk day, between standing and my Aeron chair, but also seemed perfect for the boat. And so it is. The 20- to 33-inch seat height adjustment means it works at both desk and helm, its springiness means I'm getting a little exercise with my feet spread and firmly planted -- it is just right on an underway rolling boat. It's also quite compact and has a built-in handle. I suspect that Muvman has a boat market the German manufacturer Swopper may not know about.