Over the last few decades, theres been exponential growth in the availability of accurate weather forecasts and the net result is safer voyaging. Government spending on weather data gathering and forecast development has soared. Satellites and data buoys have filled in some of the oceanic gaps caused by an absence of weather balloon sampling at sea. State of the art, algorithm-driven, model data and ensemble-based forecasting have turned electronic guesswork into a better understanding of atmospheric volatility. The net result is an increase in the validity and reliability of marine forecasts and a trend that has stretched 24-hour forecast accuracy into 48- and 96-hour time frames. So, if anything deserves the label don't leave homeport without it, it is todays, better than ever, marine weather forecast.
Im a marine installer and weve come across another boat with a radio-frequency (RF) issue coming from a Frigoboat refrigeration system. The boat started with two Danfoss compressors and when one was replaced recently, the SSB whines when the new compressor is running. Weve run though the normal RF isolation procedures, but haven't had too much luck yet. It seems like RF leakage might be a good topic to explore. What really works to solve it? What installation procedures are necessary?
When we plan what to put in each issue of Practical Sailor, we ask ourselves, Whats new in the sailboat industry? But of equal importance is considering the products that have weathered the test of time, evolved into a better product, or arrived in the marine market place from a non-marine manufacturer. This years United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., had answers to all of the above.
Our test focused primarily on the small-wire connections tensile strength, with and without solder, but we also looked at their durability under tough environmental conditions. We tested the pull-out strength without solder and the pull-out strength of soldered connections at 400 degrees by heating the connections in an oven to simulate overheating conditions. We tested fatigue by spinning a 6-inch length of splice wire at 650 RPM in a simple device that we called the wire-fatigue whirligig. Finally, testers soaked all samples for four months in salt water to accelerate corrosion, and then, we repeated the fatigue test.
Connecting two standard-size wires is pretty straightforward: Grab a ratchet crimper, adjust it to fit the crimp connector, strip the two wires to fit into the butt connector, slide the wires into the connector, and squeeze the crimper. The required materials are readily available: butt connectors for inline splices, ring connectors for terminal blocks, and a dab of anti-corrosive grease for the bolts and rings. Done right, these connections can survive some extremely tough conditions. In a recent test of anti-corrosion greases and connections, we demonstrated how these connections can last up to five years in the worst bilge conditions.
During a recent passage from Sarasota, Fla., to Havana, Cuba, Practical Sailor had the chance to compare the new Vesper XB-8000 Class B AIS transponder with its predecessor, the Vesper Watchmate 850, a stand-alone Class B AIS transceiver that earned our Best Choice pick back in 2013.
The holidays are upon us, and if youve waited until the last minute to get your gift shopping done, fear not; weve got you covered. Here are some great stocking-stuffer ideas that any sailor would love to unwrap.
As high-speed, broadband cellular coverage extends throughout the coastal U.S. and abroad, the need for a Wi-Fi connection to a shore-based network is less vital than it used to be. But when PSs crew visited Cuba recently, logging onto the Marina Hemingways Wi-Fi network was our still our easiest link to the outside world.
Running the wires for new electronics requires your best cursing vocabulary, lots of sweat, twisting body contortions, luck, and the occasional bandage. For tips on how to make this job easier, we turned to PS contributor Bill Bishop. A professional marine-electronics installer, Bishop has many ingenious ways to thread a wire from point A to point B.
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.