“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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Spring of 2013

This is, by far, the worst spring in our 8 years of owning a boat. It’s May 26th, just a couple days from June and less than a month from summer (and my 38th birthday).  It’s the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.  It’s the 40th day Smitty has been in the water this season.  

And it’s less than 50 degrees outside, raining, the wind is blowing at about 20 kts with gusts up to 35 kts, there is a “Small Craft Advisory” until 4 AM tomorrow and we’re down in the cabin wearing pants with the heater on.  This spring sucks!

Yesterday we drove down the Cape to help some friends rig and setup their new-to-them Catalina 30.  It was cold and rainy but we bent on the sails anyways.  It ended up down pouring on us while we were fighting with a genny that didn’t want to go all the way up.  The hole time having to listen to their non-sailing friends from Connecticut make fun of Chris and mines Boston accents (Admittedly, he and I both have really strong accents and my Bride even joined in at one point since she was originally a Nutmegger.  But one of the worst things for us that do have strong Boston accents is listening to people trying to fake one).  Eventually we got the genny on and furled and the mainsail on and flaked.  Then cold and wet, we headed into the Chart Room for some lobster bisque/clam chowder and stuff quahogs.  

When we made it back to our boat at 8:30 PM, instead of seeing dock friends having a good time drinking and hanging out on their boats, we saw a cold, dark, empty dock.  We donned our fowlies and walked down the dock to quickly clammer on board, shut everything up behind us and turned the heater on.  The thought of having a cocktail and a cigar in the cockpit didn’t even come up.  

I’ve done almost all of the down below boat projects/maintenance.  I can’t do the on deck ones because its either raining or too cold to use sealants and waxes.  

I JUST WANT TO GO SAILING!

If all holds true in the forecast (ha! that’s a good one), than I will be able to complete a few on deck projects this afternoon and maybe get out for a sail.  Tomorrow looks to be really good and that could mean a nice long sail.  

Enough complaining, time to find a project to knock of the list.  If only I had some more heat-shrink ring terminals.  Anybody have any 18-22 gauge heat-shrink ring terminals in the Hingham area?

SIDE NOTE: In an attempt to not be such an overly serious douche bag and enjoy life more, I have decided to embrace the pirate culture that is so often present among sailboaters.  To that end, I have purchased the first “Jolly Roger” to fly on Smitty or any boat I have owned.  


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iPad Navigation and Other Boat Uses

Smitty came with a decent Raymarine chart plotter/radar. There are two problems with using it though; its only in grey scale and you need to buy expensive chips to cover each area you sail. So we had decided to not use the chart plotter function and continue to use our Garmin 76 Cx as our primary chart plotter/GPS. (We still use the Raymarine unit to supply GPS coordinates to our VHF radio and for the radar. Plus it’s always there as a backup if needed.)

Garmin 76 Cx & Autopilot Remote

I would plot courses on our laptop and then download them to the Garmin. This system worked good but did have some limitations. For instance, on our relocation cruise we had loaded more charts onto the data card then it could handle. Instead of giving me an error message alerting me of this problem it just overrode other charts. We found this out while navigating into Plymouth Harbor in thick fog. As we passed Green Can #5, we lost all our charts. The Garmin just showed the boat position in a field a blue. Luckily my Bride is a trusty navigator and we were able to continue in to the harbor with less than 100 foot visibility using dead reckoning.

Plymouth harbor

Plymouth Harbor NOAA Chart

After that we started paying more attention to what files we were transferring and the space available. However, after having to reformat our laptop, I couldn’t reinstall the charts and routing software because it was no longer supported by Garmin. They have updated charts and software but those cost about $160 and $30, respectively. So this ment that I could only put in routes through the time-consuming act of adding waypoints at each location of a course change then setting up a custom route going waypoint to waypoint. This takes about 10 times the amount of time and it doesn’t let me see the route until complete. So if I make a mistake and plot a course through a rock or miss a waypoint, I have to start over. And all of it has to be done on the small three-inch screen of the handheld instead of the computer screen.

iPhone Navionics of our home port

iPhone Navionics of our home port

My friend Chris, a.k.a. Big C, suggested I check out the Navionics app on my iPhone. Great suggestion. I love this app. For $9.99 my iPhone was now a handheld chart plotter. Not only that, but when connected to wifi or via cellular I can get realtime information on weather, tides and currents. This is a very good product.

For 2012 I used a combination of the Garmin and my iPhone. It worked ok. One of the biggest issues with the iPhone is that to save power it goes black when not actively in use. Each time you bring it back up, it takes about a minute to find the location. And, as with the Garmin, I am doing my route planning on a small screen. This definitely has some down sides. I started researching options on what we should do to upgrade our system before we leave.

The options I consider were replacing the whole system with a new one (radar, chart plotter, the display), adding a second chart plotter like a Garmin 546, just upgrading my Raymarine screen to color with used equipment, getting a second Garmin handheld, a new laptop with GPS puck running OpenCPN and using an iPad or iPad Mini. Most of these options included spending $1,000 or more on dedicated equipment that was only single purpose use. Pacific Sailors, a cruising blog I follow, put up a post a couple of months ago on iPad on board. It was a very good post and was timed perfect for me. That post pointed out a number of other good uses for an iPad on board. Also, there was real world information about using the iPad to navigate. While continuing to do my research and check out all the options, a new product became commonly known: the Lifeproof Case. From all reviews and from friends that already have these cases on their iPhones, it is the best waterproof case on the market. It also gives tons of protection to the iPad. I was sold. This gave the perfect amount of flexibility, durability and dependability we were looking for. I could use this to plan our routes, navigate and a bunch of other things like update this blog, check the forums, get weather updates, you name it.

So we broke down and order the iPad 4 with Retna display and Verizon LTE.  We went with the 32 GB model in black.  We also got the Lifeproof Case, a blue tooth keyboard, stylus (I want to try to draw on the iPad) and two extra lightening wire cords.  In all, this set us back just under $1,000.

While I was waiting for the iPad and other parts to come in Road Trip, another blog I follow, did a post on using the iPad to navigate and what apps they use.

When I got the iPad, I downloaded a lot of various apps.  Some I had on my iPhone; others were new to me.  Most of the apps were either focused on weather, blogs and forums, or navigation.  But I did download some apps for entertainment including games, streaming TV shows and downloading movies.  I’ll give updates on these apps as I decide if I like them or not.  The only app we have paid for thus far is the Navionics for the iPad.  That cost $49.99 to cover all of North America.

When I downloaded the Navionics app, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my Navionics account would carry over between my iPhone and the iPad.  The routes I had already planned on my iPhone were archived to the iPad and vice versa.  The iPad definitely offers a better view for planning trips.  Here is the same route as I had above on my iPhone on the iPad at approximately the same scale.

IMG_1035

iPad Navionics for our home port

I really like this option based on my first week with the iPad.  We will see if I continue to feel this way.