Electronics

Too Hot to Handle

by Nigel Calder, Posted May 11, 2011
Anyone who has played with electrical gear for any length of time is familiar with the distinctive smell of burned windings. Unfortunately, this smell, wafting out of engine rooms from fried alternators, may soon become familiar to a much wider audience. Why might alternators, generally known for their reliability, become more likely to fail in the next few years?The answer lies in
There are times when we find exactly what we aren’t looking for, and this was one of them.I was tired of technology and wanted to write a sailing story about the good old days, when a Windex was high-tech and real navigators dealt with celestial fixes and high-anxiety uncertainty. What better place to look for such things than at the annual Annapolis Classic Wooden Boat Regatta? Ambling

Signal Fade

by Tim Bartlett, Posted March 19, 2010
Jose Viegas of Lagos, Portugal, asks:"I have a Navman DSC VHF radio, and last summer I began noticing that when I transmit in bad weather, only boats close by can hear me. But I can always clearly receive transmissions from others, near and far. How can I test to see whether the problem is with the antenna, the connection or possibly the radio itself?" Tim

Winter Battery Maintenance

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 27, 2010
A few years ago, I left my boat’s two lead-acid batteries on board over winter. It wasn’t intentional—an early snowfall led me to cover the boat up sooner than anticipated, and I just never got around to taking the batteries off.After three months of freezing New England winter, I suddenly remembered they were still on board. I snuck down to the yard one mild Saturday and hooked the

Compass Truism

by Tim Bartlett, Posted September 14, 2009
Karl Westman of Ocean City, New Jersey, asks:"Is it all right to use magnetic headings on my chartplotter to adjust a new compass?"Tim Bartlett replies:In theory, definitely not. But in practice I'd have to give you a very guarded "maybe." The problem, of course, is that your heading is the direction your boat is pointing in. Your

Can you hear me now?

by Sail Staff, Posted January 12, 2009
Having a VHF radio on a boat is always a good idea. It allows you to communicate with other boats, marinas, and rescue services if necessary. I have two on my boat, one a handheld and the other a fixed set. Fixed sets have a maximum radiated power output of 25 watts, while handhelds normally have a maximum output of 5 watts. The more power a transmitter has, the farther its signal can travel. The

Dream Electronics

by Sail Staff, Posted September 22, 2008
"We love to sail our older Hunter 34 and want to upgrade the navigation setup at the helm. We’d like to add a wind indicator and combine our existing speed and depth displays in a single unit, using the existing sensors if we can. We cruise on Lake Michigan and rarely leave the Wisconsin coast. Is there an economical solution for us, and can the new instruments talk to our laptop?"-- Peter

Bailout Electronics

by Sail Staff, Posted August 26, 2008
As part of a major refit of our BoatWorks Bailout boat, a 1983 Ericson 34, we installed an up-to-the-minute electronics package. It was easier than expected.By Mark CorkeInstalling a new pedestal from Edson gave us space for a number of instruments, with the C80 display taking center stage. The C80 acts as a chartplotter, radar display, and, with optional modules, can be

Paper or Plastic?

by Sail Staff, Posted August 21, 2008
"You're not carrying any paper charts?" is a question I've heard at all the exotic landfalls and cruiser's hangouts I've visited during my circumnavigation. Many cruisers, it seems, aren't quite ready to fully trust their electronic chartplotters. While almost all cruisers, other than a few diehards, do have plotters on board, they also carry enough paper charts and tools for measuring and

Smart Plan

by Sail Staff, Posted June 24, 2008
MAKE A PLANNING SPREADSHEETI use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for my planning documents, and I use four different worksheets. The main sheet covers a full year of sailing (I know, that sounds llke a lot of planning but I have found that it is very helpful to me) while the other sheets detail my plans for a long trip in the spring, plus shorter weekend trips and another long trip
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