I got an email this week from the Port of Seattle Shilshole Bay Marina that concluded with an image that is reversed. At first glance it looks like it was taken from the south looking north with Puget Sound to the left. Then I realized nothing was in the right place. This image is looking south with Puget Sound (west) on the left.
In photography with slides this could be a simple mistake but in modern digital photography this requires effort to flip the image. I wonder if this was intentional to see who would comment about it, or a sign of much worse things.
When I purchased my sailboat I knew that I was going to want to make changes to the instruments. It had a Garmin Chartplotter and a Garmin AIS receiver. The chartplotter was several years old and all of my recent experience has been with B&G chartplotters designed explicitly for sailing.
Before dealing with the chartplotter I spent a lot of time understanding the existing platform. What I found was that the chartplotter and ais reciever were connected via a NMEA 2000 backbone, but not connected to anything else.
The boat was configured with raymarine wind and speed instruments, as well as a raymarine autopilot but they were not connected together.
There were two switches on my breaker panel, one for instruments in general, and a separate one for the autopilot.
Reading the manuals for the smartpilot controller I learned that if it was connected to the wind instruments I could sail to a wind angle as an alternative to sailing to a magnetic compass heading. Because I planned to do a lot of single handed sailing, this was definitely something I wanted to implement, and was the first change I made to the boat wiring.
The only drawback of this connection system is that when the autopilot is turned off and the instruments are left on, the smartpilot controller alarms and reports loss of communication with the controller. This mainly happens in the evening when I want to turn off the autopilot to save power but leave the instruments on to monitor depth and wind speeds.
The next change I made was to add a Raymarine Seatalk-Seatalkng Converter A06064 to connect the legacy Seatalk network to the NMEA2k network. The Seatalk-Seatalkng converter allows the old seatalk instruments to communicate with seatalkng instruments. Seatalkng is essentially the same as NMEA 2000 (NMEA2K).
I replaced the Garmin GPSMAP 740 with a B&G Zeus3S
I replaced the Garmin AIS 300 Receiver with an em-trak B954 AIS Transceiver
I replaced a Sony Stereo and CD Changer with a Fusion Apollo MS-RA670 Stereo
My current set of interconnected instruments are as follows.
I’ve been thinking about changing my speed and depth instruments to newer models, with the possibility of using newer depth transducers that work with the B&G and look forward to provide a 3d view of the ground surface forward of the boat. The big question that I’ve not been able to come across an answer yet is if the Seatalk-Seatalkng converter communicates both directions, and if the apparent wind and water speed data were to be moved to the Seatalkng side of the converter, would the autopilot still be able to steer to the wind angle.
Since this was my first year of boat ownership, I wanted to put lights up for the holiday season. I put them up in mid November and took them down in early January. I used three strings of lights, one at the forestay, and one on each of the backstays.
I have a full canvas cockpit cover, which meant that one of the light string connections could be out of the weather inside the cockpit, but the other connections would be outside.
I ran a single string up the forestay with the plug at the base, dropped into the anchor locker so it wasn’t sitting on the deck. I ran an extension cable from the cockpit over the deck to the anchor locker.
I joined two light strings together and used the main halyard to pull them up the backstays.
I had this tube of silicone sitting around so put a small bit on the flat part of each outside plug before connecting them. It seems to have worked well because it was still intact when I took the lights down, and the lights were still working properly.
After separating the cables, peeling the used silicone away was easy.
I’d done this treatment for the end plug on the forestay that was raised to the top of the mast, the join with the extension cable at the bottom of the forestay, and the joint of the two strings at the top of the backstays.
When I purchased my sailboat one of the items that came up on the survey was that the windlass control was missing it’s button covers. Recently when I was preparing to drop my anchor, the controller would allow the anchor to be lowered, but not to raise it. The buttons had finally failed.
I was pleased to find that the three conductor plug on the new model mates directly with the old socket. That meant that I simply had to plug the new remote into the existing socket on my boat, and store the socket that came with the new remote with the rest of my spare parts.
The new remote is definitely an improvement, being smaller and properly water resistant.
Details from Lewmar:
The 2 button wired windlass remote is the latest design of IP rated hand-held remote from Lewmar. The new unit is designed for remote operation of all Lewmar windlasses. The wired remote is constructed with high-strength, glass-reinforced PP combined with a high-density rubber gasket to ensure robust durability and a secure grip whatever the conditions. These units are supplied complete with a connecting cable extendable up to 3 meters, a watertight deck fitting and socket, and a support bracket for stowing.
I purchased a Garmin Vivoactive watch to be able to run the raceQs sailing tactics racing watch app. I’ve actually purchased two of these watches. I purchased the first in early 2020 when I saw it on sale for around $120 on a discount site. I used a little bit with the RaceQs app https://raceqs.com/smart-watch/ before the COVID-19 Pandemic shut down all sailboat racing, and then used the watch more for its built in GPS bike tracking and walk tracking features during the summer. Towards the end of the summer when I was getting back into sailboat racing, I was wearing the watch on my right hand and managed to knock the strap loose while tying fenders to the lifeline. The watch bounced once on the deck before going overboard. It took me a few months before I saw another deal online that convinced me to buy a second watch.
I have a long data history with Fitbit, and currently wear a Charge 3. It’s similar to the newer Charge 4, but without the GPS tracking features. I like the smaller profile on my wrist of the fitbit, and have been wearing it or something similar 24 hours a day for the last five years. The larger size of the Garmin makes it harder to convince myself to switch to away from the Fitbit for my general data tracking, when though I’ve learned that when I don’t use the GPS features of the Garmin it has similar battery life to the Fitbit. I like the always on watch face of the Garmin, especially after I picked an analog style watch face.
I like using the RaceQs app on the watch while sailing, especially with the more recent editions features of automatically uploading race data to the website. I have some issues, that I mainly believe are because of the touchscreen abilities with the garmin watch. I believe that the app would be much better served on a watch with an array of buttons surrounding the watch face. The pictures of the app on its website appear to show a button centric watch.
The way I use the watch for sailing is that I wait till I’m on the boat, preparing for a start. Then I start the raceQ app on the watch, wait for it to get a GPS fix and go to the timer setting. Then I configure the timer for the appropriate countdown to my start and start the countdown. Then I explicitly press and hold the crown button until I can press the lock icon, locking the touchscreen. I’ve found that if I don’t lock the touchscreen, inadvertent touches will change what’s displayed on the screen, and cause the app to change modes. I do my best not to touch the app until after my race has completed.
Sometimes I notice the app is on a page that asks if I want to exit, with a check (✔) or cross (❌) option. I’ve found that the best option is to not enter anything until after the race has completed.
I wish that the raceq screen displayed GPS time on all screens, including the screen asking if I wanted to exit the app. There are plenty of times that I’ve been hiking on the rail and the skipper wants the exact time recorded for when we’ve crossed the finish line. with the watch locked, there’s no way to get the time on the watch quickly.
The app automatically calculates tacking angles to the mark after one set of windward/leeward marks have been rounded, which seems nice, but in my position on the boat, isn’t as important to me as the start timer, or the real time of finish.
I don’t know if there’s a way of creating screen shots of the watch display similar to what’s on a phone. It would be nice for describing after the fact what was going on, but with the limited storage and buttons on the phone, don’t expect there’s a way of doing so.
This is a feature that I’m still trying to understand. I believe it is an AIS message, and possibly a distress message, but have not been able to figure out what it means. I get the same result whether I push Show or Close, in that the alarm dialog closes and no cursor is selected.
I have a GARMIN AIS™ 300 Blackbox Receiver connected to my NMEA 2k network, and assume that it generated the message on the local network and the B&G is just displaying it. Because I don’t have an AIS transmitter, I don’t believe it’s a directed message to me. I’m not broadcasting any ID, and my radio isn’t hooked to the GPS, so isn’t configured to be able to broadcast distress signals. (One more item in my to-do-list)
The only annoyance I have with this type of message has been when I left the instruments running while i was away from the boat and returned to find the alarm beeping and a similar message displayed. I don’t like that the beeping may have been annoying my neighbors for days.
I recently installed a Zeus™ 3S 9 chartplotter on my sailboat, and am generally happy with it. I’ve been running into a few problems and am still trying to figure out what’s going on. This is probably only the first post that I’ll write about issues I’m having.
The manual says it can read memory cards larger than 32GB if they are formatted NTFS. I found the smallest flash card in my regular collection of cards was a 32GB card. I put it into the chart plotter because I wanted to copy the screen captures to my computer, but it was not recognized.
Today I found a 16GB card that had been used in a raspberry pi project and reformatted it in windows 10, then took both it and the larger card to the boat.
I did a couple of tests and the 16GB card was readable from either slot, while the 32GB card doesn’t show up.
You can see that I put the 32 GB card in the top slot and the 16 GB card in the bottom.
The second picture shows the memory cards fully inserted. At that point I was able to see the 16GB card in the chartplotter, but the 32GB card does not appear.
After I returned home I looked at the filesystem properties on each of the cards.
The larger of the two cards had defaulted to the exFAT format, while the smaller was FAT32. I was able to reformat the larger drive as FAT32 and may test if it can be read by the chartplotter in the future. I don’t like buying small memory cards. I have found the fast (Ultra High Speed Class 3 = 30 MBit/second) 128GB cards are the right ones to buy for my drone and camera usage.
As I read through this post you can see that the 16GB card is listed as UHS-3 while the 32GB card is UHS-1. I don’t think that should make a difference in this usage.
I had earlier upgraded to communication in my boat to connect the older Raymarine Seatalk instruments to the NMEA 2000 network using a Raymarine SeaTalk1 to SeaTalkng converter kit (Part Number E22158) with a blue DeviceNet adapter connecting to my NMEA 2000 backbone, and a white DeviceNet adapter connecting to my Garmin GPSMap 740. This allowed my garmin to show a few more details and my raspberry pi to capture and log the data from the depth and wind instruments.
I was hoping that beyond the physical changes to my instrument pod with the installation of the new B&G unit, the wiring changes would just require disconnecting the Garmin from the NMEA2000 connection and connecting the B&G to the same connection.
I did that. Then when I powered on the B&G, it asked for confirmation to discover all connected devices, which I had it do. It wasn’t seeing the results from the raymarine devices on the network, though it was getting AIS targets from the Garmin AIS 300 receiver and seeing my new fusion radio, both on the NMEA2000 bus. The communication path to either of those units was via the Seatalk converter, so I was confused as to if the B&G couldn’t see the old instruments, and spent a couple of days looking for possible solutions.
Most of the solutions I seemed to run across made me think that there may be too much power loss on the length of NMEA2000 backbone cable reaching from inside nav station to my outside pedestal. When I’d originally installed the converter kit, I spliced in power in the pedestal. Power was supplied directly to the converter, and it provided power to the NMEA2k backbone. During my installation of the B&G I attempted to do some wiring cleanup. I removed the power to the converter, and provided power to the NMEA2k bus in the nav station.
Here are several links to discussion that suggest power across the length of the backbone may be my problem:
I took video of the status led blinking on the converter, and it never was reporting low voltage. It was definitely reporting something with data, but I wasn’t sure if it was the first or second from the list.
I wasn’t excited about cutting and splicing my pedestal power connection again to provide power directly to the converter, and while playing around and power cycling everything, I realized that if I power cycled the converter/nmea2k bus, and brought up the B&G and just looked at the instruments, the converter was visible in the B&G!
If I selected it, I could see all the data it was publishing from the instruments on the NMEA2k bus.
That seemed like success! (The Sea Temperature reading has been whacky since I’ve bought the boat, and I can’t seem to figure out how to get it to read the correct temperature on the original ST60+ Tridata either.) So I told the B&G to auto select it’s data sources again.
After doing that, the Seatalk converter no longer was visible in the list of devices, or the data it was publishing. I also figured out that my Raspberry Pi stopped logging the data from the instruments when this happened. (I’m pretty sure my raspberry pi is the device at the top of the device list with — under both Model ID and Serial No. Fixing that is a low priority task for me. If you know how to properly configure the Pi please leave a comment pointing out what I should do. This is the platform I’m running.)
After several tests, I figured out that my Raymarine instruments continue working and putting data on the NMEA2k bus as long as I don’t have the B&G auto discover sources. I manually went through and configured the sources in the B&G settings, and was able to get things configured as I want.
I’m not 100% satisfied because I don’t think I should be able to take the converter offline with whatever commands the B&G is sending over the NMEA2k bus, but I’m happy that I didn’t have to splice more cables this week.
My first multi day trip on Sola was over Memorial Day weekend 2021. I wasn’t good at planning, with every boater in the area also trying to take advantage of the perfect weather, but things worked out well and it was a good learning experience.
I loaded all of what I thought I’d need on my boat, returned my car to my apartment, and walked the two miles back to the boat. That meant that I didn’t pull away from my slip until close to noon on Friday. I then went to the fuel dock in Shilshole and added 14 gallons of diesel to my tank. I learned that the price of ice at the fuel dock is almost exactly the same as the nearest QFC. It was a little past 1:30 by the time I was away from the fuel dock.
After clearing the breakwater, I as able to engage the autopilot and stow all my fenders and docking lines. The wind was nice enough for sailing, so I raised the main sail and unfurled the head sail and sailed downwind towards Blake Island.
I passed the western shore of Blake Island about 4pm, and all of the mooring balls were already in use, with several additional boats anchored. Because I was moving nicely under sail power and the sunset is close to 9pm, I continued down Colvos Passage towards Gig Harbor.
I was able to sail all the way to the entrance of Gig Harbor, arriving about 7pm. After motoring into Gig Harbor and passing through a fleet of anchored boats I picked a spot and dropped my anchor with about 30 feet of water below me.
After my 80 foot chain, plus some of the rode, was off the boat, I was hailed by a large motor yacht to the south of me, with them saying that I was probably over their anchor, and that they had about 200 feet of chain out. I sat there for about 5 minutes, then pulled my anchor back up and moved north to another open area and dropped the anchor a second time. That location I stayed the night.
I’d previously taken the boat to Gig Harbor and anchored when I was racing the South Sound Series #4 on Mata Hari on March 20th. That trip I motored down Friday night, anchored, was picked up from my boat to race Saturday morning, returned to the boat Saturday night, and raised the anchor and motored home Sunday. I had the assistance returning to the dock in Shilshole, which was hugely beneficial. This trip I was planning to be alone the entire time.
I planned my departure from Gig Harbor to ride the tidal currents through the Tacoma Narrows south past Fox Island. I had the anchor up by 6:30am, but that wasn’t too much of an issue since the sun is now up before 5:30am.
South of Fox Island, I attempted to sail for a while, but after a couple of hours I wasn’t making much progress. I was slightly worried about finding a place to stay the night since I’d never been in the south sound to stay before. I powered up and passed Eagle Island between Anderson Island and McNeil Island and saw at least one mooring ball I could have used, and will probably revisit in the future.
I continued on, turning north and finally arrived at McMicken Island. There were two mooring balls on the south side of the island as I approached, one occupied. I was tired from not having slept well the previous night, and took possession of the empty mooring ball, and once the boat was secure took a nap.
I made hot coffee in the morning, but ran out of propane as I was preparing eggs in the afternoon. No more hot food for me. I had plenty of food that didn’t require cooking and it was hot during the day so I didn’t feel the need to heated food.
I spent two nights in the same place, on the same mooring ball. It was very relaxing, and mostly quiet. The south sound reminds me much more of a lake than the waters near Shilshole. I remembered that I had my drone on board, but hadn’t freshly charged the batteries, so each of my three batteries was only at 60%. I was still able to get some nice views of the area.
I was able to take time looking around and comparing what I could see to what the charts were showing.
The most important thing I figured out was that I wanted my dinghy so I could explore the park. I was reminded of the US Navy recruiting phrase: “Join the Navy, See the world.” and the army joke that went with it: “We own the part you can walk on.”
After two nights on the south side of McMicken Island, I motored to the south side to see what was available there. There were more mooring balls, and plenty of protected anchorage, but there was also a lot more boats in that area. My solitude on the south side had been nice while there was very little wind or weather.
I’d decided I wanted to explore Jerrell Cove State Park and then stay at Tolmie State Park on Monday. I had some nice south wind and was able to sail for a while going north in Case Inlet and around the northern point of Harstine Island, then dump the sail into the sailbag and motor into Jarrell Cove and back, then raise the sail and sail southwards again. I only sailed about 7 miles total, but it was certainly nice to not have the diesel running for a few hours.
I ran out of wind as I got a little farther south than I’d started the day. While it was now Monday of the long weekend, I wasn’t certain about where I was staying the night, and preferred to arrive and use a mooring ball instead of dropping anchor. I needn’t have worried, as there were three empty mooring balls when I arrived, and one boat anchored nearby. The location was exactly what I was hoping for. Quiet and flat, and an easy location to start back home from. There was 40 feet showing on my depth finder when I connected to the mooring ball. The views of Mt Rainier were incredible, and the water was glasslike in the morning.
While waiting for the currents to turn to the north, I flew my drone.
I timed the currents northwards and after leaving Tolmie State Park a bit past ten in the morning, I was able to be back in my slip in Shilshole just past four pm. I had about a knot of push during most of the trip, with as much as four knots at times.