Most Recent Blog Posts
September 04, 2012
If you're looking for the quintessential island paradise, check out St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This is a great charter destination with lots of wind, friendly people, great food, and good variety in the islands you'll be visiting. Best of all, the islands are close together so you can explore a bunch in one or two weeks.
Here are some pictures I took as I skippered on the last Latitudes & Attitudes Share the Sail. Click on the islands below to read about the adventures:
August 28, 2012
Eric Stone & Friends
Here's a suspect crew. Famous faces of the boating world.
On the left is Kim Hess, Owner of Tropic Yoga. She's the Pirate Yogi and you're likely to find her on a boat or beach doing Down Dog, Up Dog, and Scurvy Dog.
On the right is Rags Laragione, President and CEO of the Maritime Institute of San Diego, an excellent educational institution where many have received their USCG licenses.
And in the middle is Eric Stone, or Island Eric, armed with guitar and a Jimmy Buffet style. Eric was playing Rags' house party when a few of us from the old gang got together.
August 21, 2012
Furuno TZ Touch Displays
I walked away from the Furuno booth at the Miami boat show with a good feeling – I felt like an electronics expert. And I felt like that because in five minutes, with zero instruction and without so much as a glance at the manual, I could competently use their new NavNet TZtouch-enabled multi-function displays (MFDs). I’ve never before come across such an intuitive suite of products that incudes radar, chartplotter, fish fishfinder, AIS, weather and more.
Furuno is the first to bring true multi-touch technology to the marine market – it’s not just drag-and-drop and pick a window anymore – instead, think iPad-like pinch-to-zoom and swipe capability. Furuno combined their TimeZero technology with a true multi-touch MFD and now as soon as your fingers make contact with the screen, taps, pinches and swipes become instant commands. Furuno also kept their RotoKey rotary knob so you have two ways of making selections and adjustments. I was an instant genius.
In addition, free custom apps let you wirelessly view and control TZtouch from any iPhone, iPad, or iPod. That means your iOS device becomes a remote monitor and control system from anywhere on the boat. (Other platforms like Android smartphones and tablets are planned for the future.) TZtouch also has wireless connectivity to hotspots, allowing you to download updates, such as real-time weather data, via the Web. And of course, Furuno still includes their 2D and 3D charts and aerial photos of key areas and harbors – bu now you can move between them faster and easier than ever before.
There are two MFDs in Furuno’s current lineup - the TZT9 (9” display) is $5,695, and the TZT14 (14”display) has a list price of $7,695.
August 14, 2012
Aquabotix Hydroview Camera
Do you need to see what’s stuck on your rudder but don’t want to take a dip in chilly water? How about checking on your anchor from the security of your deck? Both are now possible with two fun and useful gadgets by Aquabotix.
AquaBotix offers two viewing systems, one self-contained and one that works from the end of a pole. The AquaLens is a portable underwater camera with live video feed and LED lights that you can mount on the end of your boathook. It weighs three pounds and has a diameter of five inches. The 640 x 480 pixel camera has a 3.5-inch LCD screen and uses eight AA batteries. The system is collapsible so it’s easy to store and retails for $475. If you want to do a quick check on your prop after running into a submerged object or you wish to evaluate the underwater condition of the piling you’re tied to, hook up the Aqualens and stay dry.
Now, if you want to venture farther, try the new HydroView which is as kind of underwater rover also with a built-in camera and LED lights. It looks like a small airplane with two propellers on either side of the lens. It measures 19 x 15 x 7 inches and weighs only eight pounds but can go to a depth of 75 feet and with the optional cable, can venture 300 feet from its control source. You “drive” the Hydroview via the topsides WiFi box and steer it with your iPad, iPhone or Android device by simply tilting your tablet or smartphone in the direction you want to go. The Hydroview can travel at up to five knots, has a two hour run time and retails for $3,995. That’s a steep price to pay just to check on your anchor but then if there are sharks around, it seems like a pretty reasonably priced solution. Besides, maybe you’ll find sunken treasure with it and it will more than pay for itself.
August 07, 2012
If you’re like me, you’re an organized (some say anal) boat owner with a binder dedicated to the latest maintenance records and a locker bursting with manuals for all ship’s systems. Also like me, you may forget to log an oil change or may not remember whether you took that Yanmar manual home last time or where it went. For all who want hyper-organization but could use a hand getting it done, check out VesselVanguard, a digital boat profile and maintenance history repository that will simplify your boat ownership and let you dump all that excess paper.
VesselVaguard is a cloud-based service you sign up for and then access online via your computer, iPad or smartphone. There is no software to download and if your home computer crashes, you won’t lose any of this data as it is resident at the company. VesselVanguard does all the work of setting up your customized boat profile and programs in all equipment manufacturers’ maintenance schedules. Not only do you have a list of all that’s aboard, you can also upload the corresponding manuals and receive emails on scheduled maintenance alerts. You choose if you want others notified as well such as your mechanic, marina, or other vendors who can upload completed work orders and documents which then become a permanent part of the ship’s log.
With VesselVanguard, you get an at-a-glance dashboard on the status of service. All files are searchable by date, category, manufacturer, contractor name, or any keyword you specify. Reports can be generated using the templates provided and downloaded, saved and shared. The system simplifies boat ownership, protects the value of your boat and equipment as good recordkeeping always does, keeps you abreast of all logged expenses and perhaps raises the waterline by getting all paper-based records and manuals off the boat.
Signing up will cost you $979 which is steep but then think about all the legwork they’re doing upfront. Then it’s just $179 per year to remain a member. You can add equipment as you go and there’s a rumor that this may lower your insurance but I’d verify that with your agent. For the first 1,000 people who sign up, the second year of service is waived.