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Apps and Computer Programs

PS Tests Small-screen Plotter-sounders

Practical Sailor tested four small-screen chartplotter-sounder combo units priced from $700 to $1,500: Raymarine A70D, Garmin 740S, Lowrance Elite-5, and the Humminbird 798si. While there was a disparity in what features the units offer, the plotter-sounders were similar in terms of the GPS-based functions. Testers looked at ease of installation, ease of use, screen visibility, resistance to fogging, and water/spray resistance. They also compared features including price, man-overboard functions, waypoint and route storage, available charts, chart interface, and user interface. This article focuses on the electronics' chartplotter capabilities. The December issue will include the report on the devices' sounder functions.

GPS Receivers for Smart Phone Navigators

During our testing of pocket navigators for the December 2009 issue, we examined other approaches to propagating a GPS signal around the boat and found some viable alternatives. Several aftermarket options can turn smart phones or PDAs into handheld navigation tools by supplying or sharing reliable GPS data. Practical Sailor looked at a Bluetooth-enabled Globalsat BT-338 GPS receiver with the SiRFStarIII chipset and Franson Technology’s GPSGate software for Windows and Windows Mobile, which was designed specifically for the task of sharing GPS data. Testers found both utilities to be good choices for the job, however, we still caution against relying solely on a PC-based navigation network onboard.

Chandlery: August 2011

Practical Sailor Chandlery: August 2011. This month reviews a tiller, tool toter, and smart-phones.

Mariner Resources on the Web

Practical Sailor’s roundup of practical boater websites covers all topics related to sailing, boat owning, and boat maintaining. From weather forecasting and navigation sites to boat-owners’ groups and social networking sites, these links to online sailing resources are editors’ and readers’ top picks from the world wide web.

Mailport: 12/06

MARINE INSURANCE REDUXI have been reading with much interest your articles about marine insurance this year (April and May 2006).

Choose Your Own Seductions

Here's a letter and response we were going to run in Mailport this month, but we'll run it in this space instead: ----------As I...

Offshore Log: Essential Forecasting Tools

Our years of sailing in New England and the Caribbean, with their stable, predictable weather patterns, left us ill-prepared to deal with the vagaries...

Riding the Wireless Technology Wave

A number of the electronic devices that we tested this year are wireless products that interface with smart phones and tablet computers. Many of these products will also connect with the ships existing marine networks (NMEA) and hardware, and we encourage using these more robust connections for long-term cruising.

Wi-Fi Booster Versus 4G Cell Data

Fast, reliable broadband connectivity is often taken for granted ashore. But once youre out on the water, the digital domain can go downhill fast and access to high-speed, cost-effective digital communications begins to waver. Cellular towers and Wi-Fi hotspots are the inshore sailors next best friend, but since Wi-Fi signals are line-of-sight, the range is limited. How these two important links to Web-based communications-cellular and Wi-Fi- work and what you can expect from the technology in the marine sphere is part of our ongoing electronics update.

Bad Elf GPS Pro Boosts iPad Nav Apps

Looking to add GPS functions to WiFi Apple devices or increase the GPS accuracy of a Bluetooth device? U.S. company Bad Elf created the GPS Pro, an external Bluetooth wireless GPS receiver and data logger, to simultaneously share GPS data with Bluetooth-capable i-devices, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. It also can serve as a standalone data logger that allows you to record up to 100 hours of trip location data.

Caring For Your Marine Diesel Engine

Expecting calms for most of the passage, we set out in a flat calm with 70 gallons of fuel. Six hours later, around mid-day, the engine wailed, screeched, clanged, and died. Hardly a ripple stirred the Gulf of Panama.