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Phone or Tablet On Board?

Using phones and tablets for marine applications is very attractive. Applications are a fraction of the cost of dedicated marine products that seem to perform the same function. But the marine environment is very difficult and there are problems with both phone and tablet applications. There are many articles on the Internet showing you which 10 apps are the best. This is not one of those articles. This article explores some of the problems people don't talk about and points out what to look for to get the best experience with your phone or tablet. The things that turned out to be important onboard were not the things that seemed important checking out the application at my desk.

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Starting Line Apps

I had intended to review both iRegatta and BC Racer. Both are excellent well done apps for smart phones and tablets.

After testing both, I decided not to review the programs themselves, but to talk about limitations on this class of device. Perhaps you can overcome these limitations but after reading this you will at least you will know what they are.

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Starting on Time with GPS -- Getting to the line at the gun going fast

This is the first of a series of articles on using GPS devices to get to the line on time going fast.

Wouldn't it be great to have an application or device that would get you to the starting line right at the gun going fast. There are several phone/tablet apps that say they will help you do that and a few dedicated boxes that say they will do it better.

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Weather Page Updates

It has been about a year since I reported on the Marine Weather page. There have been many improvements to the page in that time that I want to share. The page has been well received and has hundreds of users. I thought it would be useful to point out some of the improvements for those of you who have not tried it recently.
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Wind Map

wind map This is an experimental page that will show the wind for nearby reporting stations. There are three sources of reports: Local and regional Airports, NOAA Buoy Data Center, and Local weather stations. The local version of this page uses all three. The wide area only the official stations which are from the first two. Please check out this site and give feedback. What do you like and what do you want to see added or changed?
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No Shackle Toggle Halyard

UPDATE: New configuration shown!
This article shows how to make a simple extremely light and easy to use no shackle integrated toggle for attaching a halyard to the mainsail. This method works with HM line such as Amsteel. There are several articles elsewhere on the site that show how to make Amsteel to Line halyards. This article is the finishing touch.
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8:1 and 20:1 Cascade Vang Systems (and link to 16 more vang systems)

A 8:1 Vang system that is cheaper than using two fiddle blocks, lighter, and stronger. What is not to like? You just run the control line back to the cockpit where you put a cam cleat. You will likely need a turning block on deck but then you have the vang where you want it when it needs to be released quickly before you round up.

The second vang system shown is the 20:1 vang on Papoose. This is a unique system with some advantages that are discussed.

This page also has a link to 16 standard variations on vang systems.

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Eventide Sails Again

I am happy to report that the L-36 Eventide returned to the Bay on New Year's Day 2012. After our very well photographed adventures at the 2011 Master Mariners Race I faced a tough decision about whether to restore Eventide. Her hull had basically been sawed through from deck to just above the water line by the other boat's chain link bobstay, and her spruce mast and boom were shattered into multiple pieces beyond repair. Eventide had been so thoroughly restored by her previous owner "Chairman" Bob Griffith and given me so many good times that I decided that if I could find a used and affordable mast and boom that the hull was worth repairing.

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Creating the Easy to Use Waypoint and Route Program

This winter I am racing on a Tartan-10, not my L-36. We are racing the winter series out of South Beach Yacht Club and another one out of the Golden Gate Yacht Club. The skipper doesn't use a GPS and as I find them indispensable in sailing to a mark and in calling the layline, I brought my wrist version along. But first I needed to program in the waypoints and routes. What a pain. I used OpenCPN and plunked a waypoint down over the marks on the map. Entering the routes was the most difficult. That led me to build the waypoint and route editor. Then I thought, wouldn't it be great to just have a list of all the marks in the area and just check them off, rename them to match the names the race committee uses, import them into a program, copy and paste the race committee routes onto a page and press a button (after a little editing perhaps) and have a file you could download into your GPS? So I built just that.
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GPS GPX Batch Waypoint and Route Creator

Entering routes into a GPS when you have a number of them to enter is easy with this bulk route editor. Import waypoints from a gpx file or enter directly into this page, then simply write out the routes all at once and create a custom gpx file with the waypoints and routes ready for export to your gps device or chart program.

As an added bonus, Latitude and Longitude can be entered in almost any format, even both in one input box, for ease of copy and paste entry.

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Latitude Longitude Converter

Convert between different latitude and longitude formats. Then copy and past the converted format into other programs. This program will take most any format as input and outputs the result in five different popular formats.
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Gross Fine Mainblock Reeving

mainsheet_lazy_lightning Two ways of reeving the mainsheet in this gross fine mainsheet system are shown. The more obvious way to do it is shown on the right. The problem is that the lines hit each other, the fine control blocks hit the main sheet, and in general it has problems. The other way rotates the main dual block by 90 degrees and has no such interference issues. It also opens up a large space for the fine tackle so that it does not rub on the mainsheet.

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Soft Line Shackle on a Block

Using a line shackle and stopper loop you can in some cases eliminate hard shackles even from places that would be impossible to do with normal soft shackles. The stopper loop can be "tied" to the clevis pin and the soft shackle integrated into the line for a clean light installation.

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A Better Soft Shackle

Revised 12/12/2011 -- added calculator
I make and use a lot of soft shackles to attach my jib sheets. The normal soft shackle is rather difficult to open and to milk closed. With age, it gets every more difficult to use. The alterniative Kohlhoff style looks a bit insecure although under load it is perfectly secure. This version is a bit of a hybrid with hopefully the best properties of both. The eye is easy to open but can only be opened just enough to fit the stopper knot through it. Almost any slight force will close it quickly. The basic construction is a passthrough eye, a shackle section of about 2 inches, a passthrough lock and then a bury of the other strand into a body section of about 5 1/2 inches, another passthrough and finally a diamond knot.

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