Chandlery August 1, 2005 Issue

Davis' WindScribe

Davis' latest gadget competes with Speedtech and Kestrel's handheld instruments.

Davis Instruments usually sticks to good, simple nautical gear. With considerable justification, the company boasts that its no-nonsense Echomasters™ are "the world's best" radar reflectors. Davis' boat poles are usually adjudged the best and its Tell-Tales® and Windex® masthead wind indicators are seen everywhere.

But several years ago, Davis went a mite "techy" and helped pioneer LED lights. The company also got into precision electronic weather instruments. Now this California-based firm offers an avant-garde windmeter called the WindScribe™.

Wind-measuring instruments have come a long way—from a wet finger, to weighted lever vanes with a gauge, to whirling half spheres on a gear shaft, to tiny fan blades in an aperture, to plastic peas in a couple of pitotstatic tubes.

The new WindScribe has a tube that you line up with the wind to measure air molecules passing over sensors in the tube. There are no moving parts. It has a range from .4 to 150 mph. Practical Sailor has no current plan to test that upper limit.

Powered by a 3-volt battery (claimed to last 600 hours), the instrument has bells and whistles galore. Its admirably large LCD display reads out in your choice of mph, knots, feet per second, feet per minute, meters per second, or kilometers per hour. What else is there? And, you can program it to deliver five-second average wind speed; a running average, and both maximums and minimums.

Because chips are cheap, the WindScribe also takes the ambient temperature, stores maximums and minimums, and calculates and displays the wind-chill factor, which has become very popular with weather forecasters.

Easily calibrated to assure accuracy, the WindScribe comes with a 3-volt battery (bless them; too much stuff these days comes without); a low-battery indicator (which you may never see because of the battery’s life span); a tripod mount; the customary wrist lanyard, and even a little recess to which you can tie a piece of colored yarn to make it easier to line up the tube with the wind.

The Davis WindScribe carries a hefty price ($130) but it might provide some healthy competition for the excellent wind meters by Kestrel and Speedtech, if you care to compare.

Contact - Davis Instruments, 800/678-3669, www.davisnet.com

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