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.
Practical Sailor looked at three Wi-Fi antennas suggested by readers: the Bad Boy Xtreme from Bitstorm, Rogue Waves Wave Wi-Fi from GeoSat Solutions, and The Wirie, developed by cruising couple Mark Kilty and Liesbet Collaert. All three are marketed specifically to boaters, and they represent the two principal types of devices that users will find: USB-type units that plug into computer or laptop USB ports and Power over Ethernet (PoE) bridges that network via your computers Ethernet port to provide a pathway to the Internet.
Its dusk on an overcast, gusty day, and raw data is pouring into your wind display from the masthead, GPS, and the knotlog. Can you clearly see the information on the display, and more importantly, is it meaningful? Can your gloved fingers push the buttons? Can you easily change the way wind data is collected, processed, and displayed so that it best reflects the conditions? These are among the things testers examined for this report, Part 2 of our wind-sensor evaluation, which focused on the display and user interface. In Part 1 (PS, March 2014) we focused on accuracy and durability of the anemometer and vane sensors that feed into the displays.
It was mid-July 1990 on the Caicos Banks, a stretch of shallow, gin-clear water extending for about 70 miles east to west in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Along with a dozen other cruisers whod chosen to thumb our noses at hurricane season (ah, those were simpler times), we were pausing in Providenciales before heading south. …
The experience of the owners of the 14-year-old, six-man, valise-stored Avon liferaft pictured here reminds us of the importance of following the manufacturers inspection schedule. With air leaking from the seams and through the fabric itself, the raft is a graphic example of how even a professionally serviced liferaft that remains dry in its hard canister can deteriorate to the point of becoming worthless.