Chandlery: June 2011

Although the ease and convenience of electronic chartplotters has ensured their place aboard most every vessel these days, the punch-and-go navigation that makes them so popular has also spawned a generation of slack-jawed zombies when it comes to even the most rudimentary of navigational skills. Prudent mariners continue to carry paper charts, both as backup to chartplotters (and their “one diode away from disaster” nature) and to have the big picture view that a plotter just can’t match.

Stabilizing Cameras and Video Cameras Underway

Anyone who has tried to steady a camera aboard a boat knows how difficult it can be to keep the equipment dry, compose the shot, and level the horizon, all the while keeping yourself and your camera on board. Given hull vibrations, wave action, and the unevenness of the deck, setting up a stable work platform presents challenges that marine photographers try to solve using a variety of camera mounts. Practical Sailor recently tested three types of camera mounts: a beanbag camera mount from Omnipod, the Camo-Pro 7; two flexible devices from GorillaPod, the heavy-duty GorillaPod Focus and the GorillaPod SLR Zoom; and specialized, self-leveling camera mounts from Horizon True.

Mailport: February 2010

The February 2010 issue of Practical Sailor has letters on the following topics: requests for more used boat reviews, foggy electronics, hard varnishes, propane fridges and Iphone apps.

Multiplexing Marine Electronics

In an effort to find an inexpensive, reliable way to connect a PC (or Mac) to our onboard electronic navigation system, Practical Sailor testers scouted basic NMEA 0183 multiplexers with good track records. We zeroed in on the easy-to-install MiniPlex Lite from Holland-based ShipModul. This multiplexer was one of the first high-speed NMEA 0183 multiplexers capable of handling the data rates required for some of the newer electronics like AIS receivers. With very little effort, the Mini Plex Lite allowed us to network our Dell Latitude D620 laptop, AIS, GPS, and chartplotter, and it handled the data transfer without a glitch. Our chief gripe: This entry-level model uses the laptop for its power source.

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.

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.

Mailport: August 2013

On strolling through Port Townsend (Wash.) Boat Haven, while I was having some work done on my boat, I saw this boat (photo at right) and the owners attitude written on a sign in front of the boat. It reminded me of your June 18, 2013 blog, Dont Let Refit Pitfalls Derail Your Cruising Plans.

Mailport: July 2013

A few issues ago, you had a short article on deck hardware (blocks, traveler, cars, etc.) that included Garhauer, and you mentioned that the manufacturer offered individual parts and complete systems that allow conversion from on deck to cockpit adjustment of the car position. We recently installed the EZ adjustable genoa car system from Garhauer and are very pleased with the results. This equipment fits on existing traveler tracks, is easy to install, and performs as advertised.

Plotting Your Escape in the Age of Satcom

I wanted to try a little experiment this week. Something safe, with little risk of getting hurt. Something I could do while drinking coffee and listening to Puccini . . . or the Rolling Stones . . . or Mumford and Sons. Something on the Internet. It got off to a bad start. I dropped in on one of those Internet forums where angry people wait to spring on innocents like me. The deeper I dug, the angrier they got.

Overheating in Docklines and Rodes

With hurricane season hitting full stride, many of us are going over our rope inventory, making sure we have more than enough lines to secure the boat. Chafe gear fights external friction on our lines, but how do we combat internal heat build-up? Dock lines are particularly susceptible to overheating. If the boat is exposed to short-period chop from the side, the frequency can be high and the force can exceed the 10:1 safe working limit, and even with rain or spray to cool the rope there may be significant weakening due to internal friction.