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Manus Olsson Podcast Revisited

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 20:23

Magnus Olsson was on the Two Inspired Guys podcast a while back, and I’m relaunching this episode now on 59º North. I interviewed Magnus in downtown Stockholm, at the ‘Sprit Museet’ (Alcohol Museum) on Djurgården. Our boat Arcturus was tied up in the harbor there after we’d sailed her across the North Sea. Magnus and his partner Vica cycled down to the harbor and had coffee with us on Arcturus before he and I did the podcast. It was initially about an article I wrote for Yachting World on code sails, but turned into a discussion on sailing in general Magnus was truly larger than life, which comes through in this episode, and it was with great sadness that the sailing world learned of his passing last summer in Lanzarote, where he was training with Team SCA, the all-female entry in the next Volvo Ocean Race. I only knew him for short time, but it was a privilege. Thanks for the memories – and the podcast! – Magnus.

Manus Olsson Podcast Revisited

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 20:23

Magnus Olsson was on the Two Inspired Guys podcast a while back, and I’m relaunching this episode now on 59º North. I interviewed Magnus in downtown Stockholm, at the ‘Sprit Museet’ (Alcohol Museum) on Djurgården. Our boat Arcturus was tied up in the harbor there after we’d sailed her across the North Sea. Magnus and his partner Vica cycled down to the harbor and had coffee with us on Arcturus before he and I did the podcast. It was initially about an article I wrote for Yachting World on code sails, but turned into a discussion on sailing in general Magnus was truly larger than life, which comes through in this episode, and it was with great sadness that the sailing world learned of his passing last summer in Lanzarote, where he was training with Team SCA, the all-female entry in the next Volvo Ocean Race. I only knew him for short time, but it was a privilege. Thanks for the memories – and the podcast! – Magnus.

Virtual Sailing, the New Reality. And Better Sex

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 15:29

By Kimball Livingston Posted May 4, 2014

Three questions:

1) Can you get a winning edge in design before you build your foiling catamaran for America’s Cup 35?

(Everybody tried, designing AC72s for America’s Cup 34, but challenger and defender were still development platforms when they hit the line for race seventeen.)

2) Can you train a crew on dry land?

(When sailing time is brief.)

3) Can you empower the technical team and the sailing team as mutual development partners?

Joseph Ozanne and Kevin Borrows say yes to 1 and 2, and yes-you-must to question 3. It’s the norm in aviation. It’s the norm in motorsports. And sailing? Duh.

Ozanne, left, and Borrows, aka eb1 Labs, open for business

Ozanne and Borrows are software engineers who worked on Oracle Racing’s AC72s—Ozanne goes all the way back with Oracle to V5 monohulls—and they lived through the early teething episodes that were so painful. Yes, we all remember that awful crash in October of 2012 that sidelined boat number one until February, 2013, but these guys are clear that from the very beginning . . .

“The problem was a short runway,” Ozanne says, “and with that, the massive problem of building those boats, which everybody undercooked. They just didn’t see how hard it was going to be. A good example is what happened on day one at Oracle, when we snapped one of our daggerboards on our first day of sailing. And even then the problem was not so much that we’d had a major engineering failure. The problem was that a sailing team that relied upon on-water testing was docked for six weeks. So there we were as a technical team, day after day, getting no feedback from the sailors that we could put into the design of boat number two. And the Kiwis were out foiling day after day, and the media was bearing down, and did I mention there was pressure?”

And then the relaunch, and the crash on sailing day eight. And every specialized technical “department” of Oracle Racing already knew that the boat would crash in that condition, but the wing-trim data was not integrated with the foil-trim data was not integrated with the dot dot dot in a way that could be communicated, much less rehearsed.

Ozanne says, “When I run a VPP of the boat, I get a performance curve, and I put that on a spreadsheet. But as soon as I put that on a projector and run the numbers for a sailing team, I lose my audience. Kevin and I are looking for a new way to communicate, because the sailors don’t use the tools that we use to design fast equipment. We need to get the sailors integrated into development. It shouldn’t be me sailing the boat in the computer. It shouldn’t be Kevin. It should be the sailors, the way they do things in aviation or in Formula One.”

Now comes the looming horizon line of AC35, at the end of another short runway. Ozanne, 35, is a French native who revels in the innovative fervor of Silicon Valley. He and Kiwi-born Borrows are now partners in eb1 Labs, based in Ozanne’s home on Clay Street, San Francisco, where the bones of the house are traditional, and Ozanne’s additions are as 21st century as his outlook for the future of high-end sailing, and for the future of the software product that he and Borrows call driRun.

“On-water testing is incredibly challenging,” Ozanne says, “and it is not well suited to the technology of foiling catamarans. It’s super-complicated. You can do it small-scale, which New Zealand did with SL33s and Oracle to some extent with 45s, and in that you learn a lot about the thing you need to know most:

“In a foiling boat, what is the tradeoff between stability and performance?

“That is, you learn a lot about the tradeoffs between stability and performance in 33s and 45s, but you can’t transfer your numbers and your predictions to a bigger platform. Coming to AC34, nobody had a tool for that, because it required a lot of input from the sailors on the water, and you need to account for their ability to manage a very unstable platform.”

Enter driRun.

Here is my paraphrase of the company’s self-description:

driRun is a physics engine (dynamic VPP) driving high fidelity computational fluid dynamics models. The physics engine is interfaced using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to immerse the pilot firmly inside the simulation.

For each given set of environmental inputs, driRun’s engine simulates yacht performance, state and forces several times per second. The data is served back to the user in real time, as in the instrument package of a real yacht. driRun also leverages its database for replays, scenario building and professional performance analysis.

It all happens within the virtual world of the Oculus Rift headset.

Not so long ago, Oculus was seeking Kickstarter funding. Then Oculus sold to Facebook . . . for $2 billion . . . even before becoming a consumer product.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, declares, “The mission of Oculus is to enable you to experience the impossible . . . the incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people.”

How far can they take this? Next time, we’ll jump into an Oculus Rift and go sailing. But before I leave you, I hear you asking, Better sex? What’s up with that? Well, my dears, your answer is here.

Matt Rutherford Sails for Japan: Into the Gyre

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 14:23

Matt Rutherford & Nicole Trenholm depart a wet and windy San Francisco Bay on tiny Sakura.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice that I posted a brief note last night just before 11pm. I had a call from an ’8816′ number – a sat phone number – that woke me up. Normally I sleep with my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb,’ but as the ARC Europe fleet just went to sea, and my number is listed as their emergency contact number, I left it on. I thought it was one of our boats – and always think the worst. But it was Matt on the phone. 

“Everything okay?” I asked in a nervous, sleepy tone.

“Yeah, going great!” he said cheerfully, to my relief. “We’ve been sailing downwind with just the genoa, making 6-7 knots. This little boat has a huge rig, and it’s working. At this rate, we’ll be in Japan in 50-60 days!”

The big picture: Matt & Nicole have a long way to go to cross the world’s biggest ocean.

Matt continued to chat for a bit, remarkably informally for being now 8 days into the Pacific, about halfway to Hawaii. Then again, he’s probably now settled into that ‘spiritual middle’ part of any long voyage, the best part. Matt belongs at sea, and you could hear it in his voice that he was happy. No more stress of preparation, just in the moment. Anyway, I wanted to post his latest blog entry here from his voyage to Japan with his partner Nicole Trenholm aboard the little Harbor 29, Sakura. Head on over to oceanresearchproject.org to support their research efforts, or follow them on Twitter for updates. Here’s Matt:

Day 8: Into the Gyre

This is the first time in history that any organization has done a continuous marine plastics survey from one continent to another. During our 7,000 mile voyage we will cut through both the east and west sides of the North Pacific Gyre (AKA the Pacific Garbage Patch) along with mapping its southern extreme.  We have nearly arrived at our first waypoint after sailing for 950 miles.  For the next 1,000 miles we will be sailing south southwest surveying a region never yet explored by scientists in the field of marine plastics.

It didn’t take long before we started seeing plastic trash floating around.  A broken leg from a plastic lawn chair, black buoys (we saw nearly 10 of those in a day and a half), disregarded fishing gear, ect.  Last summer we spent 73 days at sea non-stop exploring the North Atlantic Gyre using a manta net (to reference look under menu tab projects/ past).  You had to slow the boat down to 1.5 knots to properly use the manta net.  This time we have a high speed trawl called an Avani net.  Both nets have to be boomed out over the windward side of the boat with a spinnaker pole in what I call “clean water”. This is water that is not effected in any way by the vessels wake, as that would screw up our sample. The first time we deployed the Avani net we were going too fast and broke our spinnaker pole in less than 30 seconds. It’s a good thing we brought a spare pole.  So now we drag the Avani net every day for a few hours at 3 knots, any faster and we might break something else.

After the first few days of headwinds we were becalmed.  We motored sparingly as we only have 30 gallons of diesel for a 7,000 mile passage.  I really don’t like being becalmed but you’re not always going to have wind at sea.  It’s funny how people talk so much about heavy weather sailing but the reality is you will encounter far more light winds at sea than you will strong winds.  So be prepared for both.

The Harbor 29 does well in light winds mostly due to its monstrous 46 foot tall mast (50 feet off the water!).  That’s an incredible amount of sail area for such a small sailboat.  It also does fine in stronger winds as we have three very deep reefs and running backstays. To balance out this powerful rig, Sakura has a womping six foot, three inch draft with a 45% ballast to displacement ratio.  These numbers are off the chart for a boat this small. She couldn’t be more different than our 42 foot, steel hulled, cat rigged schooner we used for our Atlantic Gyre research last summer.  It’s nice to change things up once and awhile.I’m a defensive sailor, not an offensive sailor.  I live by the motto “reef early, reef often”.  Nikki and I are not out here to break some kind of speed record, we are here to do research.  Although, I would be interested to see how fast this boat could go racing around the marks in Annapolis.

Today (Saturday) Quantico Yacht Club will be hosting the first annual Ocean Research Regatta (all the proceeds go to Ocean Research Project).  Although we could not join today we supplied the skippers with Heavy Seas beer and recycling “empties” bags. QYC is located on Quantico Marine Corp base, I have done several talks there and they have always been a lot of fun.  A big thanks to QYC! We hope more yacht clubs will follow in their footsteps.  There is a lot of problems facing our oceans, and a lot a research left to be done.

Also check out our education blog.  We are currently talking with middle school students in Anne Arundel County.  They are taking charge of their education, building a blog with us so that together we can teach many more about the problems related to plastic trash in our oceans.  Research is important, but so is education. Sierra Club is re-posting their work. Feel free to share the student’s blogs. Ocean Research project is science, education and exploration.

-Matt Rutherford

Garmin’s GCV 10, a serious new weapon in the sonar war

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 12:30

Written by Bill Bishop on May 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Panbo is very pleased to publish the first guest entry of esteemed marine electronics installer and writer Bill Bishop ~ editor

It’s a rare case when we actually get to see into some technology we use, and this is one. You’re looking at a special clear casting of the DownVü/SideVü transducer that Garmin designed for its GCV 10 CHIRP-based sonar. As the photo suggests — you can click it much bigger — there is much more to this tech then you might initially think. The long silvery bars (you can see two of three) are the ceramic piezo transducer arrays. The shorter one is for the down scan. The metal dot on the right side is the temperature sensor. In Garmin’s words “the DownVü and SideVü transducers were designed using an innovative multi-element shaded array to provide clear, picture-like imaging. The range and side-lobe performance is like nothing else out there.” This is not simple stuff. With today’s rapid developements consumer marine sonar is now nearly the equal of sonar systems owned by oceanographic research institutions, albeit with less power. The average boater isn’t doing seabed mapping at extreme depths, but hey if you mounted this transducer on a tow fish…

I recently installed a GCV 10 with the transom-mounted transducer and connected it to a Garmin 741xs. (I have heard a rumor that a new through-hull transducer is in the works and may be available this summer.) This was a straight forward plug-and-play exercise with no complications. It did require upgrading the 741′s software, and the SD update card to do this was in the package. Like all sonar products, and especially with down and side systems good transducer installation is critical to achieve performance at speed. The GCV 10 can currently be used with Garmin’s new 7xx, 8xx, and 1xxx series systems. Integration software for the 8000 glass helm systems is in process and will be released this summer. (Bill’s detailed entry on installing the GCV 10 here.)

The GCV 10 CHIRP’s in two ranges, 455kHz (low) and 800kHz (high). The actual CHIRP frequency sweep for the low range is 445kHZ to 475kHz and the high is 805kHz to 840kHz. In general the higher frequency mode will show sharper detail in shallow waters, and the resolution will fall off as the water gets deeper. This threshold between lower and higher CHIRP ranges is give or take around 200ft depending on conditions. Much deeper than than this, the 455kHz range will likely perform better. Frequencies can be mixed and matched. For example you can down scan using the 800kHz range, and at the same time side scan using the 455kHz range, as seen on the screeen below.

Power in a CHIRP system does matter, I think. The more energy you can put in a target, the stronger the return echo. It’s difficult to divine what the actual true power capability of many sonar systems are because manufacturers seem prone to using fuzzy terminology for transducer power output. Some use Peak to Peak measurements and others RMS wattage. It begs the question whether transducer output ratings are an aggregate of all of the transducer elements, or for each one.

Each of the three GCV 10 arrays outputs 500 watts rms each for a combined total of 1500 watts rms when simultaneously using both types of scans. This certainly places it at the upper end of transducer power output for existing scanning system, if not making it the outright current power champion. This advantage improves the ability to hold bottom at higher speeds in deeper water than other systems I’ve seen and definitely did a better job showing fish targets. I ran the boat at speeds above 35kts and the display kept up and maintained crisp imaging in both down and side scan modes.

The various screen shots really tell the story. As you can see just above even the imaging while using the low frequency range in quite shallow water is terrific and there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the low and high frequencies to me. But as the water gets deeper the 800kHz CHIRP range will provide sharper detail compared to the 455kHz mode until somewhere around 200ft. The screen shows a ledge just off Pompano beach and the structure on the left side, and continuing on the bottom right is coral. If you look closely you can even see the ridges in the sandy bottom.

This Hydro Atlantic wreck DownVü screenshot was taken at 169ft during GCV 10 testing. The ship wreck is clearly visible despite two to three foot seas that caused the minor blurring. The really notable aspect of this image is how well the GCV 10 images fish. To the left of the wreck is a cloud of hundreds of fish. On the right side you can see what looks like a sizable bait fish ball.

The newer Garmin sonars now have the ability to record sonar streaming for later playback using Homeport software. Recording can be only be done on a single channel at a time using either DownVü, traditional, CHIRP, or SideVü modes. For the 741xs I was using you will need a SD chiplet inserted in the card slot for the recorded data. (Is there a better name for these impossibly small chips?) Garmin says for every15 minutes of sonar recording time you will need about 200MB of chip memory storage. Let’s make this easier, figure on a gigabyte per hour.

I do wish Garmin had included a way to export the videos in more user friendly mainstream formats for uploading to YouTube or the ilk. Poking around it’s possible to create sonar recording videos using Microsoft’s free Screen Recorder or other similar software. You can also mark waypoints using specific sonar features on the display by pausing the sonar, use the cursor or your fingertip to place the waypoint, and select New WPT. Waypoints can be added in a similar way while playing back sonar in Homeport also.

I think a new line in the sonar wars sand has been drawn, and Garmin as the latest to enter the fray has no doubt taken advantage of the lessons learned by others. What I found was simple implementation, easy to use, very fast image processing, sharp bottom displays and a strong technical sonar entry. The screen shots will tell more of the story as time goes by, but I really liked this system and only had some minor gripes about the MFD user documentation.

Same famous Panbo hat, just a new voice that will on occasion be wearing it. All of the GCV 10 screen shots seen here are courtesy of Garmin International.

Besides for installing marine electronics in Sarasota, Florida, Bill Bishop also creates the wonderful Marine Installer’s Rant ~ editor

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

Garmin’s GVC 10 DownVü/SideVü, a serious new weapon in the sonar war

Sail Feed - Sun, 2014-05-04 12:30

Written by Bill Bishop on May 4, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Panbo is very pleased to publish the first guest entry of esteemed marine electronics installer and writer Bill Bishop ~ editor

It’s a rare case when we actually get to see into some technology we use, and this is one. You’re looking at a special clear casting of the DownVü/SideVü transducer that Garmin designed for its GCV 10 CHIRP-based sonar. As the photo suggests — you can click it much bigger — there is much more to this tech then you might initially think. The long silvery bars (you can see two of three) are the ceramic piezo transducer arrays. The shorter one is for the down scan. The metal dot on the right side is the temperature sensor. In Garmin’s words “the DownVü and SideVü transducers were designed using an innovative multi-element shaded array to provide clear, picture-like imaging. The range and side-lobe performance is like nothing else out there.” This is not simple stuff. With today’s rapid developements consumer marine sonar is now nearly the equal of sonar systems owned by oceanographic research institutions, albeit with less power. The average boater isn’t doing seabed mapping at extreme depths, but hey if you mounted this transducer on a tow fish…

I recently installed a GCV 10 with the transom-mounted transducer and connected it to a Garmin 741xs. (I have heard a rumor that a new through-hull transducer is in the works and may be available this summer.) This was a straight forward plug-and-play exercise with no complications. It did require upgrading the 741′s software, and the SD update card to do this was in the package. Like all sonar products, and especially with down and side systems good transducer installation is critical to achieve performance at speed. The GCV 10 can currently be used with Garmin’s new 7xx, 8xx, and 1xxx series systems. Integration software for the 8000 glass helm systems is in process and will be released this summer. (Bill’s detailed entry on installing the GCV 10 here.)

The GCV 10 CHIRP’s in two ranges, 455kHz (low) and 800kHz (high). The actual CHIRP frequency sweep for the low range is 445kHZ to 475kHz and the high is 805kHz to 840kHz. In general the higher frequency mode will show sharper detail in shallow waters, and the resolution will fall off as the water gets deeper. This threshold between lower and higher CHIRP ranges is give or take around 200ft depending on conditions. Much deeper than than this, the 455kHz range will likely perform better. Frequencies can be mixed and matched. For example you can down scan using the 800kHz range, and at the same time side scan using the 455kHz range, as seen on the screeen below.

Power in a CHIRP system does matter, I think. The more energy you can put in a target, the stronger the return echo. It’s difficult to divine what the actual true power capability of many sonar systems are because manufacturers seem prone to using fuzzy terminology for transducer power output. Some use Peak to Peak measurements and others RMS wattage. It begs the question whether transducer output ratings are an aggregate of all of the transducer elements, or for each one.

Each of the three GCV 10 arrays outputs 500 watts rms each for a combined total of 1500 watts rms when simultaneously using both types of scans. This certainly places it at the upper end of transducer power output for existing scanning system, if not making it the outright current power champion. This advantage improves the ability to hold bottom at higher speeds in deeper water than other systems I’ve seen and definitely did a better job showing fish targets. I ran the boat at speeds above 35kts and the display kept up and maintained crisp imaging in both down and side scan modes.

The various screen shots really tell the story. As you can see just above even the imaging while using the low frequency range in quite shallow water is terrific and there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between the low and high frequencies to me. But as the water gets deeper the 800kHz CHIRP range will provide sharper detail compared to the 455kHz mode until somewhere around 200ft. The screen shows a ledge just off Pompano beach and the structure on the left side, and continuing on the bottom right is coral. If you look closely you can even see the ridges in the sandy bottom.

This Hydro Atlantic wreck DownVü screenshot was taken at 169ft during GCV 10 testing. The ship wreck is clearly visible despite two to three foot seas that caused the minor blurring. The really notable aspect of this image is how well the GCV 10 images fish. To the left of the wreck is a cloud of hundreds of fish. On the right side you can see what looks like a sizable bait fish ball.

The newer Garmin sonars now have the ability to record sonar streaming for later playback using Homeport software. Recording can be only be done on a single channel at a time using either DownVü, traditional, CHIRP, or SideVü modes. For the 741xs I was using you will need a SD chiplet inserted in the card slot for the recorded data. (Is there a better name for these impossibly small chips?) Garmin says for every15 minutes of sonar recording time you will need about 200MB of chip memory storage. Let’s make this easier, figure on a gigabyte per hour.

I do wish Garmin had included a way to export the videos in more user friendly mainstream formats for uploading to YouTube or the ilk. Poking around it’s possible to create sonar recording videos using Microsoft’s free Screen Recorder or other similar software. You can also mark waypoints using specific sonar features on the display by pausing the sonar, use the cursor or your fingertip to place the waypoint, and select New WPT. Waypoints can be added in a similar way while playing back sonar in Homeport also.

I think a new line in the sonar wars sand has been drawn, and Garmin as the latest to enter the fray has no doubt taken advantage of the lessons learned by others. What I found was simple implementation, easy to use, very fast image processing, sharp bottom displays and a strong technical sonar entry. The screen shots will tell more of the story as time goes by, but I really liked this system and only had some minor gripes about the MFD user documentation.

Same famous Panbo hat, just a new voice that will on occasion be wearing it. All of the GVC 10 screen shots seen here are courtesy of Garmin International.

Besides for installing marine electronics in Sarasota, Florida, Bill Bishop also creates the wonderful Marine Installer’s Rant ~ editor

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

YACHT DESIGN 2014-05-02 22:26:05

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-02 23:26

 

Sitting, listening to Ludwig Van and thinking about my week

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-02 11:37

Blog entry 5-2-14

 

 

 

This was an interesting week. I was working very hard Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I flew down to San Francisco to give a lunch talk at St. Francis Yacht Club. SFYC is by far my most favorite YC. They have always made me feel very welcome and I had had the privilege of attending two of their Tinsley Island Stag Cruises. This is a marvelous four day event on a private YC owned island up in the Sacramento River delta.

 

Wednesday I got up at 4am, drove to the airport, checked my ticket and saw that my flight was at 8:40! So it was a long day for me. But SFYC was generous and flew me first class so I was comfortable. I was picked up by Ron Young in his fancy Mercedes 500 SL sports car. Ron drove me, very quickly, to the YC. There I met Wayne Shen who was to be my guest for the event. I met Wayne on Facebook and he is one of a growing group of Taiwanese sailors that I have become friends with. I now belong to the FBYC and as far as I can see I am the only non native Mandarin speaker in the club. But, “Wo ce ce can” I do my best.

Wayne is a very active SF sailor who does a lot of teaching. Wayne owns one of my Tayana 37′s.  He’s a great guy and very involved the the emerging sailing scene in Taiwan.

 

 

I was also met at the club by a whole group of old friends. Most I had not seen in years so it was a real treat to see them again. There were quite a few members there that owned my boats. My talk went very well. I have the knack for that. But these days, after losing Spike, I can often at any moment go into “full panic” mode. It’s not fun and while I used to laugh when people mentioned “panic attacks” I will never laugh at them again. They are very real. But thank God the day went without any panic issues and I felt totally comfortable and at ease giving my talk. Wayne drove me to the airport and I was home by 8pm. Long day. Very satisfying day.

 

Seattle Yacht Club contacted me last Sunday and asked if I would come down and give a talk at SYC. I told them that the chance of that was very unlikely. SYC is not SFYC. While I have some great friends who are SYC members the club has not treated me well over the years and I can’t see spending half a day to go there and entertain them.

 

 

The other interesting this going on this week has been the installation of solar panels on the roof of my beach shack. It should be completed today and I’ll report back later on the success of the system. I am hopeful that it will be as efficient as I have been told.

 

That’s about it. I am going sailing with Kim on Sunday for a photo shoot with my pal Neil Rabinowitz. Neil is as good it gets when it comes to marine photography and I have known Neil for many years. Neil will be shooting for two magazines, SAILING and the German magazine, YACHT. Kim is not wild about the publicity but he is doing this as a favor for me so my work will get more exposure. There is no question that I would love to see more SLIVER type boats get built to my designs.

 

 

Sail safely. Sail quickly.

Team NZ Drops out of the Volvo

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-02 11:28

They have history in the race, and they had plans for the race, but Team New Zealand will not compete in the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race, even with a one-design format to ease the path forward.

Instead, after all the talk about win or die at the 2013 America’s Cup, Team New Zealand is all about the 2017 match. The New Zealand Herald reports:

Team New Zealand has announced they will not be competing in the 2014/15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

In recent weeks, the team had explored a joint challenge with Spanish interests, but chief executive Grant Dalton said the team was not convinced it could mount a successful challenge in the time available and the team’s energies would be better directed towards the next America’s Cup. The Volvo Ocean race starts at Alicante, Spain, on October 4 this year.

Read the full story here.

IBEX ConnectWorld, thanks to Chetco Digital

Sail Feed - Fri, 2014-05-02 11:00

Written by Ben Ellison on May 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

A surprise high point of last year’s International Boatbuilders Exhibition (IBEX) was ConnectWorld. For several years the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) had staged a substantial ConnectFest NMEA 2000 networking demonstration on the show floor — remember the Fish Gate 100? — but for some reason they dropped out in 2013. I arrived skeptical about a hurried effort to keep the idea alive managed by a manufacturer instead of NMEA. What I found, however, was that Chetco Digital Instruments had put together a nice demonstration of multiple brand devices sharing data across multiple networks. While NMEA 2000 made a lot of it possible, there’s some great development going on beyond the N2K backbones and I’m excited about what we’ll see in Tampa at IBEX 2014…

If you check out the text on the ConnectWorld entrance above you’ll see a list of marine related networking elements that starts with NMEA 0183 and 2000 but goes on to Ethernet, WiFi, cellular data communications, other Internet connections, and finally The Cloud. And that is the larger truth of what’s happening on many boats these days. Not only are MFD’s monitoring and controlling all sorts of systems beyond navigation, often with mobile devices involved, but an obviously big area of future marine electronics development is getting boat data easily into the cloud, both for our later enjoyment and also for better care of our equipment.

Though not on the list, the translation of analog engine and other data into more easily networked forms — mainly NMEA 2000 — is a significant part of this process and was very much in evidence around the ConnectWorld device corral. In fact, Chetco started as a company mainly focused on translating traditional engine sensor output into forms that can be displayed more precisely and flexibly (and also logged), as suggested in the SeaGauge display above and described in this 2011 Panbo guest entry

But even on short notice, the 2013 ConnectWorld was not just a Chetco product demo. Besides that bouquet of Offshore Systems tank monitoring gear, there’s the Actisense EMU-1 which competes pretty directly with the Chetco SeaGauge and which I installed on my old Volvo Penta diesel last fall (round two testing to begin pretty darn soon). The point is that ConnectWorld attempted to include many manufacturers, and IBEX management assures me that this year every relevant exhibitor has been invited to participate in a more sophisticated demo that will be called The Connected Boat. NMEA will be involved again and Chetco CTO Joe Burke will continue to serve as ringmaster (and networking troubleshooter). He too has assured me that the goal is to demonstrate how many brands and layers of technology can work together for the benefit of builders, refitters, and their customers.

Here’s another section of ConnectWorld 2013 with Navico demonstrating how its MFDs can show engine and other data, and Chetco showing off its work at the outer branches of marine networking. Its line of SeaSmart Gateways able to serve boat data to mobile devices and beyond has come a long way since I tried one in late 2011. When Joe Burke and I took part in an IBEX seminar about marine wireless advances, he demonstrated a new “PushSmart” protocol with which a second-generation SeaSmart SDL module can both log data to an SD card and also automatically push it up to the cloud when possible.

So now Chetco is building out a HelmSmart Web portal where SeaSmart users can access their data in various ways like ChartSmart, GraphSmart, and netGauges. Burke told me about several very practical uses like a Coast Guard project comparing various engine fuels, but wouldn’t it also be fun to have a data history of trips as suggested in the screenshot above. Actually, you can view a “tape” of that trip yourself and you’ll also see the area that Joe likes to fish and that gave Chetco its name.

I don’t recall much Maretron presence at ConnectWorld 2013 but I did see some similar thinking at their nearby booth. Their VDR100 data recorder doesn’t employ a cloud stradegy but the included N2KExtractor analysis software (which you can try) seems quite powerful.

At any rate, I’m hoping to see Maretron and many other companies represented in The Connected Boat demo area this September. The concept as I understand it goes well beyond a corral of networked sensors and displays. Apparently there will be at least faux engines, tanks, batteries, charger/inverters, steering systems, etc. all talking to a central helm section and then to mobile device and off-boat areas. And I gather that the exhibitor response has been so enthusiastic that IBEX is already planning a larger Connected Boat area in 2015!

I plan to attend IBEX 2014 in Tampa, hopefully fresh from testing various connected boat products while getting Gizmo to the Chesapeake Bay, and I’ll also be helping with seminars about wireless marine advancements and interfacing/logging engine sensors. Finally, sorry to enthuse about a trade show to many readers who aren’t in the trade, but hopefully discussions like this hint at where marine electronics is headed.

Click here to read comments about this Panbo entry, or add your own.

EXPLODING BLUE WHALE: They’re Standing By in Newfoundland!

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-01 14:54

What do you do when a dead 81-foot blue whale washes up on your beach? Hold your nose and wait for it pop. So it goes in Trout River, Newfoundland, when the local population of 600 souls has been has been waiting on pins and needles for their whale to burst since it washed up in town last week. There’s even a dedicated website: hasthewhaleexplodedyet.com

The problem is these big dead sea mammals bloat with methane gas as they decompose, and the results can indeed be a bit violent. Check out this viddy of a marine biologist prodding a bloated dead sperm whale in the Faroe Islands last year:

You’ll see that everyone seems to know what’s coming.

Right now, as I’m writing this, it also seems the whale in Newfoundland is deflating on its own. Bummer. When I first found the site this morning things looked promising.

Evidently, one thing you should not do with a bloated whale is try to move it. Witness this ugly scene in Tainan City, Taiwan, when a sperm whale exploded on the street in 2004 while being moved to the town dump:

Icky poo. And, of course, you shouldn’t intentionally blow up your whale, like these idiots did in Oregon:

Be sure to catch the bit at the end where a perfectly good Cadillac is crushed by a piece of flying whale blubber.

Even if the poor folks in Trout River do not get to see their whale explode, they’ll still have the problem of disposing of its rotting corpse. Local and Canadian federal officials are currently fighting over who is responsible for this.

Rallying across the Atlantic: ARC Europe fleet prepares in Portsmouth, VA

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-01 11:41

1st ARC Europe Happy Hour at the Bier Garden on High Street in Portsmouth, VA

What a wild week for weather! It’s something like 80 degrees and humid here in the rally office at Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, VA, and the thunderstorms and tornado warnings are just now expiring after a wet night in the historic waterfront town.

With that said, it’s supposed to go down to 55º tonight, but Neptune is working on providing the fleet a pretty darn good forecast for departure on Saturday. So we’ve got that going for us!

Seven boats are set to take part in the USA start of ARC Europe this year, a whopping 7x the numbers we had last year (yes, it was only 1…)! Combine that with the fleet in Tortola, and Mia, Lyall and I – the ‘Yellowshirt’ team – is set for a busy ten days in St. Georges, Bermuda! The fleet here consists of three big catamarans (including the all-carbon-fiber 61-footer Tosca, an impressive sight on the end of the main pontoon with her synthetic rigging, rotating wing mast and menacing dark grey hull) and four monohulls. The smallest yacht, Tiger Lily, a Pacific Seacraft 31, also gets my vote for most beautiful, but then again I’m a traditionalist. With her study bulwarks and oiled teak interior, Tiger Lily gets my pulse going. Granted, she’ll have a hard time keeping up with the 30-knot max speed of Tosca, but then again, ocean sailing is about the journey, not the destination, and I reckon Julia & Purnell will have a nice one on little Tiger Lily.

In the middle of the fleet, we’ve got Sojourner (no, not my dad’s boat that did the 1500 last fall), a Shannon 43 cutter from Milwaukee, Athenea, the other big cat with the widest spreaders I’ve ever seen (in fact, the owner claims it’s rig was wind-tunnel tested to 200 knots!), Mariposa, the third catamaran, Persistent Lady a classic Hardin 45 ketch (with new aluminum spars!), and Happy Destiny, a Jeanneau 43 with a cheerful crew led by Ray Smith  that perfectly embodies the boat’s name.

While the dock is busy with skippers and crew preparing the boats for sea, it’s not that busy, despite being now 48 hours from the start on Saturday. Which is a good sign. The safety inspections have been very reassuring, with most folks having arrived here at Ocean Marine very well-prepared. Persistent Lady is the only boat with real work being done on her – she’s currently in the yard here at Ocean Marine getting new rudder bearings and beefing up the autopilot linkages. Combine that with the new Selden rig (mainmast & mizzen mast) she got in NY earlier this spring, and she’ll be in tip-top shape for the voyage across the pond.

Festivities started yesterday in Portsmouth, with check-ins and safety inspections happening all day, followed by the first Happy Hour (of many during the six-week ARC Europe event!) at the Bier Garden on High Street. The German-themed bar & restaurant boasts hundreds of beers in bottles and array of German lagers on tap, not to mention a wonderfully European atmosphere and a great place for the folks to get to know one another.

Tonight’s program continues with a happy hour at Skipjack Nautical on the waterfront, and the flare demo gets underway tomorrow afternoon! Follow the rally, including news, feature stories, weather, at-sea logs & photos and GPS fleet tracking on www.worldcruising.com/arc_europe

Don Street Stories: When to abandon ship?

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-01 07:56

Here comes No. 4 in the ongoing ‘Don Street Stories’ series. This one was intended to be run as a sidebar to the magazine article, and it’s less of a ‘story’ than it is my own thoughts on one of Street’s most vehement opinions, and that’s manual bilge pump capacity. Don’t get me wrong – I agree 100% with Street that boats going offshore need more pump capacity – but my thoughts below represent what I see actually happening in the ocean sailing world, not necessarily what I think is right. Interestingly enough, Patrick Shaughnessy, President of Farr Yacht Design, and I talked about this very topic in my last podcast episode. Here goes.

More and more people are crossing oceans in lightly built production boats, un-seaworthy boats, by Street’s definition. Granted there is a lot you can do to a production boat to make it more suited to crossing oceans, but you can never escape the fact that most modern production boats simply aren’t designed or built for the rigors of continuous bluewater sailing. I think it probably drives Street nuts.

Inevitably each year a boat will be lost crossing an ocean, and Street will begin his email campaign anew, writing to magazine editors, insurance companies, race committees and rally organizations. He’ll argue for heavier-duty manual bilge pumps and claiming that had the crew worked harder, they might have saved the boat.

But in a way, I think Street is missing the point. Boat design and construction has changed as Street has aged, but something more important has changed with it – the sailors that take the boats to the sea. Gone are the days of true self-sufficiency when the ocean sailing yachtsman needed to know celestial navigation just to get somewhere and had very limited means of calling for help should the need arise. Ocean crossings today seem deceptively easy, logistically at least, and are usually long-term sabbaticals, once-in-a-lifetime adventures to be seized before returning to a life ashore.

And therein lies the conundrum – if you’re taking on water at an alarming rate halfway across the Atlantic, you have insurance on the boat and a freighter is standing by to pick you up, are you really going to work that hard to save the boat, a boat which may have no sentimental value to you, for you’ve purchased it solely for the sake of taking on this great adventure, with intentions to sell it anyway once your done? Is the size of your manual bilge pump really going to make a difference when absolute safety awaits on the bridge of a container ship? And should that choice be ridiculed or applauded?

I agree with Street that standards need to be raised, because one of these times there won’t be a container ship waiting and the crew will have no choice but to try and save the boat. But I think overall the attitude of absolute self-sufficiency is long forgotten. Most people now expect help just over the horizon and plan accordingly.

Passagemaking dreams

Sail Feed - Thu, 2014-05-01 06:00

The unmistakable bellow of conch horns echoed around the bay yesterday morning as the 50′ sloop Love Song headed out, bound for the Indian Ocean. Next stop: Maldives, if they need fuel, otherwise- Mauritius! With a likely three thousand mile passage looming, their exit earned a salute.

Love Song was the latest in a series of boats making their exodus from this quiet harbor in Langkawi we’ve called The Duck Pond as a nod to the calm, protected waters sandwiched between by two little islands and the shoreline. It’s that time of year: in our corner of Southeast Asia, the seasons are in transition, and the rainier southwest monsoon prompts most cruisers to move on to different corners or the region- or away, like Love Song, looking for favorable winds to cross the Indian Ocean. I can’t resist following boats who have pointed for South Africa, and daydreaming about passage making again.

The night before Love Song’s departure, we gathered around with other cruisers in a local watering hole and reminisced. It’s funny how the reflections were all good memories, even though we know, at the time, some of those miles were miserable. There’s a kind of amnesia that sets in not long after the joy of a landfall. The last, very uncomfortable stretch of our 19-day passage to the Marquesas in the reinforced trades of a La Nina year were quickly erased from memory as we reveled in the immensity of arrival. The squash zone that caught us in gale conditions for days was quickly repressed as we discovered our landfall was an island where nautilus shells lay sprinkled periodically along the fringing white beach.

Our journeys this year are scaled back. Parked in Langkawi for two months (an unusually long time for us to stay fixed in one place), we’ve caught up on both the cruising kitty and boat projects. Jamie has worked with boats on rigging and electrical projects, enabling us to make progress on our list of maintenance needs. In addition to installing our new 1000Ah battery bank, we have put up a new 420 watt Silentwind turbine and 270 watt solar panel to pump in the juice. Worn cloth is being replaced: the torn settees in our main cabin have pretty new covers, there’s a mainsail cover showing up soon. Meanwhile, essential parts of our trusty Yanmar are undergoing spa treatment in Kuala Lumpur. As much as we’d like to have continued to South Africa, these and other projects come first.

What WILL we do? This has been the subject of much debate. How do you choose a route? Weather practicality comes first. Then, there’s a magic mix between the places that draw us, those that we can afford, and the plans of our friends on other boats. Bringing those together, a plan is taking shape that takes us back down the peninsula and out to the Philippines, where we’ll enjoy pretty clear water for a while before making a U-turn back to mainland southeast Asia- probably landing back in Langkawi again around the end of this year- the yellow line, approximately.

I hoped to spend more time in Indonesia, along one of the two green line routes, but adding up the miles and considering that we’d spend most of them motoring, it just didn’t make sense. We’d be pushing ahead instead of enjoying places, and burning a lot of diesel. No thanks! The world is round, and mostly likely, I’ll get to spend time in my beloved Indonesia again someday.

Meanwhile, kid boats know that life is better when you are with other kid boats. We’re lucky to know quite a few in the region that we can share anchorages with along this way. There were a dozen kids celebrating Mairen’s twelfth birthday on the beach this last week, and many of them will be with us in anchorages between here and the Philippines.

On the far side of the Pacific, we watch reports of friends sailing from Mexico- Fluenta’s reports from their journey, Hotspur celebrating landfall in the Marquesas. I make some of Meri’s kimchi (an excellent cruising solution for on-refrigerated, long life, crunchy veggies), pass a jar of it to Love Song, and dream of anticipating life at sea for weeks again.

Reaaders who go the distance know we love it when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

As Everyone Else Heads Out to Sea

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-30 21:30

Cyclone season is officially over in the South Pacific.  The weather has shifted from “unbearably hot” to”uncomfortably hot”. I am no longer glued to my gribs. We made it through cyclone season in one piece.

Time to sit back and relax a little. But, a couple of days ago, something strange started happening. People started leaving. I knew that some of my neighbours were only in the marina for cyclone season, but I didn’t realize just how many were going to be booted out come May 1st. Here we are, on the Fête du Travail, and the boats are leaving in a steady stream.
Empty docks, waiting for new arrivals.


Even stranger is the fact that new boats are arriving. From other countries. How I failed to expect this I don’t know – I suppose I have been in a routine for too long. Because when I saw my first Q flag on Tuesday, my heart gave a lurch. The flood of cruisers has begun. These people are smelly, dirty and dead tired. All they want is to tie up and sleep for fourteen hours, but first they need to rinse the decks, pack the sails, and head off to Customs and Immigration.

I am so jealous.

I introduced myself to a new neighbour yesterday, fresh from the crossing from Australia.
“So,” she asked once the pleasantries were dispensed with.  ”Do you live in the marina permanently?”
It gave me a start. Do we look so settled? I sometimes forget that we had only planned to be in New Caledonia for a couple of weeks, and here we are, eight months later. “No, no,” I insisted, “We’ll be leaving in a few months.”
She nodded, but I saw the look in her eyes. Some cruisers live their lives on the cusp of departure… but they never go. Still repairs to do, still things to perfect, still comfortable here. Just a little longer. My neighbour’s look said, “Good luck.  I hope you make it out of the tar pit.”

Perhaps our unexpected stop has had some good consequences. We reassess our status every year or so, and this year I can safely say that I am not ready to stop yet. I want to keep cruising. If I envy every boat that comes and goes, that tells me something, and it is good to have that clear in my mind. Maybe this pause was the deep breath we all needed to say, Onward! More sailing! More cruising! More family adventures!

Before we know it, it will be time to wrap up in New Cal for real. I am newly determined to make the most of the time we have left.

I am ready to hoist the Q flag and go.

Because Sabots Are Forever

Sail Feed - Wed, 2014-04-30 14:24

Sab

By Kimball Livingston Posted April 30, 2014

Old and outdated?

Or a timeless classic?

I remember a day when that was a point of debate, but I think we’ve quietly gone beyond the handwringing that once went on over Southern California’s long love affair with its indigenous sail trainer, the tiny shoebox known as a Naples Sabot. It’s not just puppy love. It’s not over.

Sure, Sabots are regional, and you can find plenty of kids now in training programs that have moved on to the Opti, which offers international competition. But kids who grow up in Sabots and catch the racing bug and want to move on to Lasers or whatever find that their skill sets are “right there” with kids coming out of Optis. The evidence is in. Just go sail, and the rest will take care of itself.

So, this is an appreciation.

On display in the pool for US Sailing. Photo KL

At this year’s US Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego, Naples Sabot 7200 had pride of place for the opening party, and plenty of the locals in attendance knew exactly whose hands 7200 had passed through over the years. The 2014 flagship of the mighty San Diego Yacht Club is a Sabot (grownups can play too) and that is a fact that is just plain cool, as cool as this otherwise-irrelevant shot that I really have to share of Commodore Charles Sinks. It’s cropped to run as a banner photo on the club’s Board of Directors page . . .

In new news, the Huntington Beach Sailing Foundation has a fleet of Sabots, some of which are more than 40 years old—almost as old as the foundation, which is partnering with the W.D. Shock Corporation to build a new fleet. More than 2000 kids have passed through the program over the years.

The foundation states its mission thus: “To develop the skills of individuals to sail; to foster confidence and self-reliance in a way that enhances self-esteem and mental, spiritual and emotional development; to promote competition in a manner that encourages teamwork, leadership, good sportsmanship and honor; and to provide a structured environment and fun summer activity for children as they grow and develop into young adults.”

It’s hard to argue with smiles like these . . .

Early beginners, ages six or seven, learn about water safety, knot tying, nautical terms and code flags. They get to spend time on the water with instructors and more experienced students. Slightly older kids learn about rigging, boat parts, wind direction, and the basics of racing. It is in this class that students can sail solo in a Naples Sabot for the first time and—

There is nothing to compare with being in command of your own ship at a young age.

Or, as John Kostecki (still the only person ever to win an America’s Cup, an Olympic medal, and a race around the world) explains of his own time in a sailing shoebox, “I liked to be in control.”

The courses are progressive, of course. And don’t you know this guy likes drawing this duty for the day?

With financial support from the public, the Huntington Beach Sailing Foundation is able to provide tuition-free lessons to children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, the physically handicapped, and children of military personnel. Click the link for further info.

Photos courtesy of Huntington Beach Sailing Foundation and Lido Island Yacht Club

Postscript: The cluelessness of so many in the boating industry, when it comes to promotion and media, will forever astound me. This post was triggered by a press release from the W.D. Schock Co., and as I was writing, it occurred to me that, on San Francisco Bay, our training programs have pretty much all abandoned our own still-loved, near-sistership-to-Sabots, El Toros, in favor of Optis. El Toros, when capsized and swamped, do not self-rescue. Optis do, which in a heavy-wind region makes a strong argument for Optis. Huntington Harbor is a different, milder world, but I had a moment’s curiosity—no big deal—whether Schock was updating the Sabot in this special iteration. I called the company, but I couldn’t get anyone to talk to me, and three days later, I guess I’ve got the message, not.

Tom Schock, we miss you.

Don Street Stories: A Rough Start in the Virgin Islands

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-29 20:18

Street in good company with sailors Paul Shard and Liza Copeland.

This is the third part in an ongoing series of short pieces that didn’t make the final magazine cut of my ‘Don Street is Not Dead’ article. Some of the below appears in the magazine, but most of it’s new. To listen to the entire 90-minute conversation I had with Don, click here. To kick things off, here’s what outgoing Yachting World editor David Glenn said about Street when I prodded him last year…

“Don was always with his typewriter in what used to be the ‘Last Lemming’ bar in Antigua with his trademark, sweat stained Tilly Hat in place and a cold green ‘un – i.e. a Heineken – handily placed, while he bashed out his next story. Seamanship is seamanship and he knows the meaning of the word and its importance, something that many modern yachtsmen don’t! Don might be from another era but his thinking is still relevant. Worth dusting him down from time to time….!”

Without further ado, another Don Street Story…

Donald Street’s legendary accomplishments in the Caribbean didn’t happen immediately. In fact, from the stories he tells of the times, it’s a wonder he ever got anything accomplished.

Take for example his paint contracting business he and a friend started in St. Croix, an endeavor, Street admits, that “was not successful.”

He and his friend would work normal contracting hours – up early, start work at 7am and quit by 3. They’d end up in town by 4pm, ready for a cold beer. Problem was, the pub in town was run on traditional British pub hours – closed between 2:30pm and 5:30pm, when it would reopen for dinner.

“Well, Robin was tall, and there were these little windows you could open up top,” Street explained, grinning all the while. “I’d stand on Robin’s shoulders, go through the window, open up the door.” Street had to pause here to laugh, his eyes smiling as much as his face. It was fun to watch the wheels turning in his head as he recalled all these obviously joyful memories. “And we’d start a tab. Various other people knew about this, and came knocking on the door [laughs] and we let them in, and Aubrey would show up at 5:30 and say ‘I’m the only guy who can make money with a pub when he’s sound asleep in bed!’”

Street bounced around the Virgin Islands doing various work to stay busy, but quite obviously enjoying himself, away from the cold concrete canyon of Wall Street, and in a place where nobody cared if he had a beard.

His first ‘real’ work experience came as a land surveyor. “I didn’t know a damn thing about it,” he admits. “I bought on book on Friday, and by Wednesday had convinced them that I’d learned enough to do basic survey work and they hired me. I figured it was just like navigation, except you knew exactly how far you went!”

The state of marine Ethernet connectors, and hello to RayNet

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-29 14:00

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 29, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

It’s not an exciting photograph, I know, but cables are a fairly big deal when you or your installer get down to the real nitty-gritty of putting a marine electronics system together. While it’s great that the NMEA 2000 cable and connector standard is pretty much taking care of lower speed sensor networks regardless of equipment brands, the sore spot now is the Ethernet cables used for high speed data like radar, sonar, IP cameras, and chart sharing. Though standard Ethernet cables easily connect many different devices in our homes and offices, marine connectors are not standardized. In fact, some Raymarine customers are dealing with two proprietary Ethernet connector designs as the company transitions to the RayNet plugs seen above. But RayNet makes sense to me and shouldn’t cause undue pain once all the available options are understood…

The basic problem is the otherwise ubiquitous Ethernet RJ45 connector. Your house probably has at least a few cables double-ended with male RJ45 connectors like the one above and snapped into network ports on computers, routers, printers, televisions, etc. The plug can snake through a hole about 13mm (1/2″) in diameter, and I’m told that an installer handy with a RJ45 crimping tool can fairly easily run plain cable. In short, the RJ45 generally works fine indoors (regardless of device brand). However, it is not rugged enough to go on the back of a marine multifunction display, let alone a radar, because it’s not at all waterproof and it doesn’t take much of a tug to overcome the little plastic locking mechanism.

While the NMEA is slowly selecting a waterproof marine Ethernet connector standard as part of ongoing OneNet development (which, like NMEA 2000 connectors, will be an existing industrial standard offered by multiple manufacturers), the major brands have already each come up with their own way of doing boat Ethernet. The photo above shows how some are simply RJ45 plugs with a collar system that keeps water out and makes the mechanical connection strong. The first two are the same Garmin Marine Network style, meant to show how the snap-on collar leaves the connector an installer needs to snake through a boat only 24mm (15/16″) in diameter (though Garmin has a neat alternative, discussed below). The middle connector is Raymarine’s old style SeaTalkhs collared RJ45 and then circled in red is the new RayNet connector, which seems designed from the ground up for marine use and thus, has nothing to do with RJ45. Finally there’s Navico’s colorful marine Ethernet plug, also built specifically for the job. Why is Raymarine switching?

Well, some manufacturers support the concept that RJ45 connectors are good enough to use in dry, protected boat spaces, which is evident in the older Raymarine SeaTalkhs (high speed) switch above. In fact, that very switch has been mounted under Gizmo’s flying bridge helm for several years and has happily accepted the RJ45 plugs that came on the end of a Ray radome cable and the inside ends of the old SThs cables that went to an E-Wide MFD and a blackbox DSM sounder, plus the standard cable used to control FLIR cameras (their Ethernet details here) and the RayNet-to-RJ45 cable that came out with the new plug. The 26mm (1+”) diameter of the old SeaTalkhs waterproof connector really didn’t matter because the installer could fish the RJ45 end (at least tape wrapped for protection) or just whack off the inside plug and crimp on a new one after making the run.

However, as marine Ethernet systems got more sophisticated and also started finding their way aboard smaller, less protected boats, Navico and Garmin both developed Ethernet switches that use their waterproof connectors, the Navico NEP-2 and the Garmin GMS 10. So, now Raymarine offers the HS5 SeaTalkhs Network Switch, which also costs about $250. But when you start running cables with waterproof connectors at both ends, their diameter really matters, and that’s one reason the new RayNet plug is the slightly skinnier winner at about 18mm (11/16″) with Navico second at 20mm (13/16″). Then again, none of these connectors is skinny enough in certain situations, radar cables fished through sailboat masts being the most common.

Before discussing Ethernet cable splicing strategies, let’s look at the heavy-duty backside of a Furuno NavNet TZT14. I didn’t have a Furuno Waterproof LAN cable to pose with the others (it’s still installed on Gizmo), but obviously, Furuno uses the collared RJ45 approach. The inside end is standard RJ45, as is their HUB101 switch. As noted, similar Raymarine Ethernet architecture worked fine on my boat, and having RJ45 inside also means you can probably use a regular (and much less expensive) Ethernet switch. Furuno seems particularly open to that option, and I’ve used a nice little 12v NetGear GS105 with both NavNet 3D and TZT. Note, though, that the TZT14 has its own 3 port Ethernet hub. It’s become common now for larger MFDs to have multiple Ethernet ports, and it often means that a separate switch is not necessary. However, on a boat with two helm stations, having a switch may mean you can run radar, sonar, etc. at either helm without having an unused MFD turned on.

As for butt splicing typical Cat 5 Ethernet cable, it’s just not done in polite company! It’s the same problem as fine gauge NMEA 0183 wires except with four twisted pairs of 22-24 gauge solid core wire. You don’t crimp connect them individually and you don’t use a terminal block. The accepted way to join two Ethernet cables is by putting a male RJ45 connector on each end and snapping them both into a female-female coupler. It used to be that if you wanted to connect a Raymarine radar directly to, say, an E-Wide MFD, you used the Crossover Coupler seen in two pieces above (I won’t get into what “crossover” means in Ethernet wiring, largely because current gear doesn’t care). You can use the same coupler with RayNet/RJ45 cables — like the one seen at the top of the entry — but I like the new A80247 Adaptor shown going together above.

Here’s what the waterproof adaptor looks like when screwed together and further accessorized with the new RayNet Right Angle Adaptor, which also doesn’t seem to have reached online stores yet, but can be seen on this Raymarine page. There’s also old SThs connector to RayNet adapters, a RayNet to RayNet Cable Joiner, and even a neat RayNet Cable Puller, which both provides the right place to tie a string and protects the connector pin holes as it travels through your boat’s mast or raceway. Conclusion? RayNet looks like a better marine Ethernet connector than its predecessor, and I don’t think the installer who called me last week after finding himself dealing with both types of SThs connectors on the same new install will feel so frustrated when he sees all the available adaptors.

Actually, that particular installer and many others often turn to Garmin Marine Network parts to solve Ethernet cabling issues even when they don’t involve Garmin gear. That’s because they can buy Garmin waterproof RJ45 plugs they can crimp themselves, plus the Coupler pictured above, which can even be bulkhead mounted (perhaps near your mast step). All of this marine Ethernet gear is fairly expensive, by the way, and the new RayNet cables look especially so. By contrast, that standard RJ45 coupler above costs 56 cents and is doing the job on some boats (possibly wrapped in tape). On the other hand, many boaters don’t want to go cheap on their high speed data networks and some advanced Ethernet capabilities are just coming to marine electronics. The Raymarine gS Series, for instance, uses Power over Ethernet (PoE) to simplify installation of the RMK keypad and IP cameras to come (as I described here).

In fact, if you look closely at the RayNet plug you’ll see that it has 10 pins, which is a minor mystery given the Ethernet norm of 8 wires. Does anyone have a guess about what those two extra pins do, or will eventually do?

Finally, I’d like to close with a shot of Raymarine’s A06046 N2K (DeviceNet) Male Adaptor Cable, hoping to avert a negative reaction to my opening remark about how NMEA 2000 connectors and cabling have become the lower speed data standard across brands. Ray likes its SeaTalkNG connectors and cabling — and it does have merits, like a color-coded backbone and heavier gauge power wires — but the cable below will put any current Raymarine device on a standard N2K network where it’s going to share data with other brand gear. Or you can use the A06045 Female Adaptor Cable to go the other way. But even if you used the Ethernet adaptors and tools discussed above to connect, say, a Navico MFD with a Garmin radar, they will not talk to each other. That level of data sharing probably won’t even happen when OneNet is finished, but it might be good to at least have a standard Ethernet cable and connector system.

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The Air Crash and the Vallejo Race

Sail Feed - Tue, 2014-04-29 12:16

The following is from Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US After failing to recover remains, the Coast Guard abandoned the search on Monday.

1st On Scene Witness Report:
As reported by Noble Griswold, who was sailing in Sunday’s Vallejo race on his Beneteau Mooring’s SD E-ticket. Noble and crew had just finished the race and Nobel had put the boat on auto-pilot and lit the BBQ, headed back to Benicia when one of the crew pointed out the planes that were traversing the area. The crewmember is a pilot and was telling the other crew about the Korean War era fighter plane, a Hawker Sea Fury when the collision occurred directly overhead. Noble points out the had made a slight error during the race which cost him some time sailing, enough to miss 1st in class by a few seconds corrected over Gordie Nash’s Arcadia.(PHRF 5). Had they not made the tactical error, the would have been about 200 feet further up the bay.

“Both planes were traveling together, and it seems the Hawker plane suddenly veered and accelerated, with a glancing blow to the Cessna’s wing, which immediately fell off” The crippled cessna then did a broad arc and accelerated from what Nobel estimates from 150 mph to 250 mph.

“The plane plummeted into 12 feet of water with a straight shot, at that speed” Noble says. “The planes were about 700 feet above the water and took about 7 seconds before the water impact. The main fuselage landed about 200 feet away and other debris landed just 100′ away, Noble continues

Noble points out the collision occurred at 4:01 PM.

The crew, quickly doused the jib and left main up due to previous engine issues and prepared the lifesling in hopes of assisting any survivors. There were none.

In the aftermath, 4 to 6 additional boats responded to the scene and searched for anything. One of the items which was located was a backpack with a womans purse within, containing her ID and credit cards, the crew also found a pink makeup bag near by. The deceased was born in 1963. Other items found float were a males sneaker and what appeared to be a wallet, but the wallet sank before they could retrieve it.

One oddity that Nobel and crew noted was the Hawker did not circle, but merely altered course and speed, the flew off.

Nobel feels positive on the immediate response of the boating community, and how quickly the boats nearby responded. The San Rafael Sheriff and San Rafael Police boats were on scene with 5-10 minutes.

Although they pinpointed the location of impact, they could not immediately locate the aircraft. Noble locked the GPS on the location and handed it over to authorities. He’s had a busy day with conversation’s with local authorities and the FAA and reporters, and is still in a bit of a haze after witnessing something so tragic happen to close by…Noble is still trying to grasp with how something so pleasant, a late afternoon sail with good friends, some music and food can quickly turn so tragic, but finds comfort in the efforts made by all who assisted to help, if nothing else bring closure to those affected. He is also VERY glad he had the tactical error earlier, which cost him a pickle dish, but had he not been a tad slower, his boat and crew would have been almost exactly where the plane went down at time of impact…


Thank you very much,

The Pressure Drop Team
Pressure Drop

Kiwi Spirit & the Volvo Ocean Race: Patrick Shaughnessy of Farr Yacht Design on the Podcast

Sail Feed - Mon, 2014-04-28 21:26

Big thanks to our returning sponsor Weems & Plath! Listen here to get the promo code for 30% off on their website, weems-plath.com. Episode 23 is Patrick Shaughnessy, President of Farr Yacht Design. Andy spoke to Patrick in his office in Annapolis, Maryland, where he grew up sailing and worked his way up from the ‘basement’ of the famous design office to the top dog. They talked about the Kiwi Spirit project and Stanley Paris’ record attempt, Patrick’s sailing history, yacht design (obviously), and spent a lot of time towards the end of the chat discussing the new Volvo 65 one design project that Patrick and his team at Farr have been developing over the past several years. He couldn’t be specific, but Patrick assured me that we’d see 7 teams at the starting line of the next Volvo Ocean Race this coming fall. Awesome chat this one, so thanks to Patrick and the Farr Yacht Design team!

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