Monthly Archives: April 2012

The GPS Built JUST for Sailing with Bluetooth Wind Monitoring

One of the problems of using GPS chartplotters on a sailboat is that it is extremely difficult to calculate accurate arrival times given the amount of tacking often involved. Now there’s a purpose-built Sailing GPS that not only accounts for the tacking that sailboats do, but can can tell you the optimal tacking angles and your Tacking Time to Destination (TTD).


The Sailing GPS

Standard GPS chartplotters do not account for the fact that sailboats tack back and forth, so it makes sense that if they don’t know your tacking distances, how can they calculate your Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) correctly? The Sailing GPS solves this problem. It displays exactly how far each tack is, how long it will take to sail each tack, and the optimal tacks to arrive earliest. Pretty amazing.

You can also use Google Maps to easily mark waypoints, connecting via Bluetooth with the Sailing GPS, which is much easier than manually entering long strings of numbers for the latitude/longitude of multiple waypoints.

The Sailing GPS can even learn the unique “polar plots” for your individual vessel.

This is not just a generic polar plot for all sailboats of a certain type, or estimates from a simulation – the Sailing GPS learns your unique vessel’s actual performance on all different points of sail.

 It can then calculate your optimal tacking routes and Tacking Time to Destination (TTD). Later, you can transfer the polar plot data via Bluetooth to a PC, if you want to see your boat’s unique speed profile across wind angles and wind speeds.

SailTimer Inc., the manufacturer of The Sailing GPS, received final patent approval in March of this year for its pioneering R&D. “This technology is a big step forward for sailors” said Dr. Craig Summers, the President of SailTimer Inc.:

“People assume that since GPS satellites can pinpoint our location on the Earth, everything shown on a GPS chartplotter must be very accurate”, said Dr. Craig Summers, the President of SailTimer, “but if you head upwind on a tack, standard GPS units view your tack as cross-track ‘error’.”

 “They also don’t account for tacking distances in your ETA, and even if your speed remains constant VMG decreases all by itself the longer you stay on the tack. In the digital age, sailors need a GPS that displays simple, safe, correct information.”

The new patent, titled ‘Navigational Planning and Display Method for the Sailor’s Dilemma When Heading Upwind’, was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office this year, and originally filed in 2006.


The navigation functions in The Sailing GPS include support for the new wireless, solar-powered SailTimer Wind Vane which will be available this (Northern Hemisphere) summer, offering the ability to continuously update your optimal tacks with real-time wind data via Bluetooth.

The Sailing GPS comes with a free waterproof DryPak soft bag with tie-downs.

Unlike smartphones and tablets, the Sailing GPS is just as easy to see in direct sunlight, and with polarized sunglasses on.

The screen of the Sailing GPS is protected by Lexan, which is very strong and won’t break if it’s dropped, and … it floats.

The polycarbonate Sailing GPS case is scratch- and UV-resistant, small enough for a coat pocket, and durable enough to remain unharmed with a bit of rough treatment, which is much easier than trying to protect and view an iPad in the cockpit (and the ETA won’t go blank every time you tack).

The Sailing GPS displays your tacking angles in a diagram and in degrees for each heading, but is not intended to replace a chartplotter. Nevertheless, even fully-equipped cruising yachts will not have the features provided by The Sailing GPS, including the quick and easy display of your optimal tacks and Tacking Time to Destination (TTD).

The Sailing GPS costs US$399 and can be purchased online.

Courtesy: gizmag Author Mike Hanlon


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Coast Guard Responds To Capsized Boat in Biscayne Bay, FL

I have been teaching boating and boating safety since 1980 and I still can’t get over the fact that there are still many boaters that don’t have any training and apparently no common sense. Below is a story I ran across that proves it.

7th Coast Guard District NewsMIAMI — Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Tow boat U.S. rescued 10 persons in the water from their capsized vessel 250 yards off of the Sea Isle Marina, Miami last Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Miami received a report of 10 persons in the water clinging to a capsized 14-foot pleasure craft, approximately 250 yards off of Sea Isle Marina, at 7:58 p.m.  last Saturday.

A Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Fla., 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (RBM) boatcrew launched to search the nearby area along with, FWC and Tow Boat U.S. crews.

The Coast Guard RBM crew located the capsized vessel at 8:10 p.m. The RBM crew recovered four adults and three children and Tow Boat U.S. recovered one adult and two children from the water. All 10 persons in the water were safely transported to awaiting EMS crews on shore. Only minor medical concerns were reported.

Commercial salvage surfaced the vessel and towed it to safely to the marina.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to always file a float plan with a friend or family member, have a VHF-FM radio and electronic indicating radio beacon on board, remain vigilant and observe safety and security zones while on the water. An electronic float plan can be filed at the following website:

Ten people in a 14 feet boat? Give me a break.
Did they just ignore the Capacity Plate?

Boat builders must comply with Federal law by putting a Capacity Plate in sight of the helm (steering area) on motorized monohull boats less than 20 feet in length.

This plate displays three important items:

  • the maximum weight of persons on board in pounds,
  • the maximum carrying weight of the boat in pounds and
  • the maximum horsepower recommended for the boat.

Capacity plate showing maximum horsepower and pounds

U.S. Coast Guard accident statistics show that capsizing and falls overboard due to improperly loaded or overloaded boats are the most reported types of fatal accidents and account for over half of all boating fatalities.

Special care and attention is especially needed when loading small boats under 16 feet in length.

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Coast Guard Sinks Ghost Ship

Source: Daily Boater

After the Tsunami in Japan over a year ago, the USCG has been monitoring a 164 foot fishing vessel that has been drifting across the Pacific Ocean.

 Set Adrift
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Japanese fishing vessel RYOU-UN MARU was sighted by the Canadian coast guard more than a week ago in Canadian waters. The vessel drifted into U.S. waters last Saturday near Southeast Alaska. The fishing vessel has been drifting unmanned at sea, presumably since the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami which occurred in March of 2011.

Ghost Ship Is A Potential Threat
Earlier this week, the Coast Guard was still assessing the situation, but you could see where it was going. “The unlit and unmanned vessel, which was originally being monitored by Canadian authorities, is now drifting through high traffic shipping lanes in U.S. waters and has become a potential threat to mariners,” said Capt. Daniel Travers, D17 chief of incident management. “We are tracking the vessel and working with federal, state and local agencies to ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system and the marine environment.”

Eliminating The Threat
By Thursday, after another vessel was far enough away from the scene, the Coast Guard began its action to eliminate the threat. The Coast Guard Cutter Anacapa crew fired explosive ammunition at the Ryou-Un Maru 180 miles west of the Southeast Alaskan coast.

In the picture below, the adrift Japanese fishing vessel shows significant signs of damage.

The derelict fishing vessel sank in 6,000 feet of water.

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Fish From Hell

Dubbed the ‘fish from hell’, the Snakehead is a mean looking creature that can survive on land and is devastating to other fish.   

Native to Asia and Africa, it has now been found in seven states across the country forcing one of them, Maryland, to take action by putting a bounty on its head.

Fishermen are being offered a $200 gift card and other prizes as a reward for killing the ‘fishzilla’.

 Fishzilla: The Snakehead is a mean looking creature that can survive on land and is devastating to other fish

‘We do not want Snakeheads in our waters. This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish,’ said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden.

The fish can survive up to four days on land, can migrate up to a quarter mile between bodies of water by wriggling on their fins and can grow to more than 2 feet long.

The state is offering the Bass Pro Shops voucher in the hope of controlling the population of the fish, which is believed to have made its way to the country through Asian seafood merchants.

‘We don’t expect that anglers will eradicate the Snakehead population. We do believe this promotion and inspiration of anglers can help control the Snakehead population.

‘The information we gain from the Angler’s Log reports are also helpful in assessing the abundance, spread and impact of these feisty fish,’ Joe Love, the state’s Department of Natural Resources Tidal Bass program manager told Fox News. 

The creatures’ insatiable appetites can destroy the eco-systems of ponds, lakes and streams and the native populations.

‘These fish clobber any type of moving bait you throw. When they smash into your lure, be prepared for a fight — especially if they are around some sort of cover,’ fisherman Rodney Hose told Outdoor Life blogger Gayne Young .

To win the bounty anglers must kill the fish in Maryland and then post a picture of themselves with the dead snakehead on the DNR’s Angler’s Log webpage

Winners will be picked in a draw on November 30, 2012. Last year, 69 anglers entered the contest, killing 82 of the creatures, reports Fox.

The first Snakehead found in Maryland, was an 18-inch fish caught in 2002 in Crofton Pond, 20 miles north of Washington, D.C.

Over the years, the population has grown and they’ve been caught in dozens of bodies of water, reports Fox.

Watch a video on how to hunt the ‘fish from hell’:

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Maneuvering Safely Around a Dredge

The permits are in place and it appears that the Delaware River is going to be dredged to allow for larger ships to transit up and down the river bringing additional, much needed, revenues to the area. I thought this would be a good opportunity to remind boaters of how to maneuver around a dredge.

The dredge itself may be broadcasting safe passage instructions or you could always contact the dredge directly via VHF radio for instructions. However, if no verbal contact is made here is what to look for according to the Rules of the Road.

A vessel involved in dredging or underwater construction that has an obstruction on one side (such as pipe lines, suction lines or cutter arm) will warn approaching vessels away from that side by displaying two black balls during the day, one over the other.  At night, the vessel will show two all around red lights in a vertical line.

One the opposite side, if there is no obstruction, the dredge would carry two diamond shapes during the day, one over the other.  (“Diamonds are a boaters best friend”) At night, two all around green lights in a vertical line as an indication that this is the safe side to pass.

In addition, on the mast, the dredge would display the “restricted in the ability to manuever” indicators. That would be a black ball over which a diamond shape is displayed over which another black ball is displayed. At night this would be represented by 3 all around lights in a vertical line. The light configuration would be red over white over red.

See if you can spot the day shapes that are being displayed on the dredge below. With the exception of the “restricted in the ability to manuever” day shapes, with all the rigging it is difficult to see the 2 diamonds and the 2 balls.

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Five Inflatable Life Jacket Myths: Do You Know the Truth?

Source: BoatUS

Inflatable Life Jackets- which automatically or manually inflate with the tug of a pull cord have been around over 25 years, but there are still quite a few misperceptions about how these life saving devices work. The BoatUS Foundation set out to debunk some of the myths:

1. Inflatable life jackets are zero maintenance – Let’s face it, pretty much nothing on a boat is zero maintenance. Before you head out for the day, simply check to ensure the CO2 cylinder is screwed firmly in and you can see the green indicator tab. Once a year, take it out and blow it up with your mouth, wait overnight, inspect for wear and check for leaks. Repacking is a task made simple – a few folds and a tuck – as instructions are found printed inside the cover flap. Most life jackets that automatically inflate when you hit the water also have small dissolvable components that periodically need replacement, but it’s a simple process. A rearming “kit” comes with everything you need.

2. One size fits all – While most inflatables are sized as “universal adult,” all have adjustable cinch straps that will provide a good fit for nearly every size of grown-up on the boat. Inshore-type jackets tend to be less bulky and are more compact than those jackets designed for offshore use. There are no inflatables for kids under 16, but the BoatUS Foundation is working with other national boating safety groups and the US Coast Guard to increase support for inflatable jackets that are more suitable for kids.

3. Not a lot of choices – Actually, there are. Once you get past a range of colorful designs, there are two basic styles of inflatable life jackets: over-the shoulder suspender-style and waist-fitting belt pack. All US Coast Guard-approved inflatable life jackets have a mark showing its type and how it should be used. A big advantage is that inflatables can provide nearly twice the buoyancy of similarly-rated foam life jackets, and are also are better in terms of righting a person in the water, when compared to some other traditional types.

4. Inflatable life jackets are too expensive – Inflatable life jackets start at under $100. That is a real expense for some, but consider that a cheap life jacket that no one will want to wear is as useless as a hook without the worm. Belt pack types tend to be less expensive than suspender style, while automatically-inflatable types or those with extras like an integral sailing harness increase the price.

5. Inflatable life jackets are uncomfortable -Inflatable life jackets are compact, don’t trap body heat, give full body movement, and can be as unobtrusive as small bait pouch attached to your belt. Look for one that has a neoprene chafe guard around the neck and one that can be adjusted to prevent it from shifting from side to side.

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NOAA Offers to Pay Sport Anglers NOT to Fish

Would you give up your annual state fishing license if the government offered you $500? How about $250? How about $15?

That’s what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service is trying to find out in an unusual survey being administered this year in Massachusetts. Working with the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries and the statistical research and analysis firm Quantech Inc., NOAA Fisheries Service sent surveys to 1,900 Massachusetts sport anglers who hold recreational saltwater fishing permits, asking them for information on the value they place on sportfishing.

A total of 500 anglers who get the survey are being asked if they would give up their sportfishing licenses in exchange for a real cash offer — with an actual check in the mail that ranges from $15 to $500, depending on the angler being surveyed. If the angler opts to cash the check, he or she must surrender the saltwater fishing permit.

According to NOAA Fisheries Service, the goal of this unusual offer is to better gauge the “true value” of a sportfishing license. In a statement about the plan, NOAA said most economic studies of saltwater recreational fishing estimate the number of jobs and the amount of sales and income supported by the spending of sport anglers, but they have not included the value anglers themselves place on being able to go saltwater fishing.

“Being able to improve evaluation methods by comparing responses to real offers with responses to hypothetical offers will be a great benefit, and that’s what this study is intended to give us,” said Scott Steinback, an NOAA economist who designed the study. “Studies like this have been done to value other kinds of intangible benefits like recovering endangered species or valuing open space, but I think this is the first time it has been used to value the pleasure and satisfaction derived from recreational fishing,” he said.

The federally funded survey will cost $145,000 — and $75,000 of that will go to pay anglers who opt not to go fishing. However, Steinback said, the focus of the study is about measuring the value of recreational fishing in Massachusetts, and it is not an attempt to raise fishing permit fees or restrict sportfishing activities.

“I understand if there are some questions and concerns because this kind of survey has not been done before, but it is not about taking anything away,” Steinback said. “Rather, I see it as a way to provide a monetary estimate of angler satisfaction.”

Early response to the plan from anglers has reportedly been mixed. The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries had to send out an email advisory to anglers statewide to assure them that the survey and the cash offers being made were legitimate, and that the survey was not a scam.

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