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Wind, Speed & Depth Instruments

Satcom Moves a Little Closer to Affordable

A new generation of satellite phones is making it easier to stay connected. The latest Satcom devices not only provide the satellite tracking offered by the original SPOT device, but also offer communication via text and email messaging. The focus of this test series was pocket-sized, satellite-based communication for the cruising sailor-devices that provide one- or two-way communications and tracking via the Internet, and can also serve as a backup to conventional personal locator beacons. This report, the first in a series, focuses on the SPOT Connect and Briarteks Cerberus CerberLink devices.

Two 12-inch Chartplotters Go Head-to-Head

After testing the 12-inch Garmin 5212 touchscreen and the Raymarine E120 multi-function displays in August 2008, Practical Sailor pitted the newest big-screen chartplotter, the Simrad NX45, against its well-used Garmin, the subject of a long-term test on one of Practical Sailors test boats. For this head-to-head test, we looked at day and night viewability, functionality, user-interface, and price. We also looked closely at the software that each uses: Garmin uses Bluechart g2 software, Simrad C-Map MAX, and Raymarine Navionics.

Marine Electronics: Practical Sailor Reviews New Raymarine A-series Chartplotter-sounder

Sailors looking for a chartplotter who tend to stray from the beaten path or those who spend a fair amount of time fishing may want to consider a combination chartplotter-fishfinder. Our last look at plotter-sounders named the Garmin 545s the Practical Sailor Best Choice for combination chartplotter sounders. This review compares the Garmin to the new Raymarine A50D. Testers looked at display unit features, plotter features, and sounder features. The Raymarine unit uses Navionics cartography and can interface with AIS devices.

Gimbaled Radar Mount Concern

Calypso is equipped with a Questus model 100 backstay-mounted gimbaling radar mount for her Furuno 1831 radar. We have always liked this system, since...

Trailer Helper

The concept behind Quality Mark Inc.s Launch Alert is simple: A 12-volt DC wireless receiver/alarm plugs into a cigarette lighter outlet in the towing vehicle, and a waterproof, battery-operated transmitter/sensor mounts on the trailer. To install, you attach the transmitter (using a very sticky peel-and-stick backing) to the trailer frame so that its sensors are at your desired "waterline." When the contacts are immersed, the receiver in the vehicle beeps loudly.

Nexus Best Buy in Integrated Instruments

Today's systems are generally excellent, but sorting through them is very confusing.

Mainsail Track Hardware

The systems used to attach a mainsail to its mast have come a long way since the time of hoops and parrels, and the variety of options now available for retrofitting plays to the advantage of the consumer.

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: 11/09

To keep from being pulled under in a collision between a tanker and my sailboat, I "pulled the ripcord" to release the snap shackle on my Standard West Marine Safety Tether . The tether release lanyard was outfitted with a series of balls. (See bottom photo at right.) I had rehearsed reaching for and feeling the release toggle many times so it would come naturally in an emergency. The balls have a distinct feel. There was nothing on my PFD or foul-weather jacket that resembled them. The replacement tether I bought from West Marine (ISAF Specification Safety Tether, No. 9553504) has a new toggle on the snap-shackle release lanyard that consists of an open triangle of plastic. This is dangerous, in my opinion! In my first few hours of using the new tether, in moderate sea conditions, I managed to snag the triangular loop on something and release the snap shackle. I am now replacing all triangular loop pulls with bead pulls that I have crafted myself.

Simple Tips for Maintaining Stainless Steel

When applying a paste cleaner, a toothbrush is useful for buffing tight spots and working into the pores of welds; follow by buffing with a cotton cloth. A green 3M scrubby pad helps for removing more aggressive stains. Continued rusting in welded areas might indicate a developing failure, requiring replacement. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and mild soap when done buffing.