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HTC 7510 – Solid State Computer & Phone & GPS !

HTC7510Further to the post on the arrival of solid state computers in particular the HTC 7501 I see that HTC have got 2 new models…

The top of the range HTC 7510 now runs Windows Mobile 6, has a 16Gb flash drive for storage – more than enough for charts, tracks and waypoints – and as a mobile phone it will support :

o HSDPA/WCDMA: 2100 MHz for Europe
o 850/1900 MHz for USA,
o with up to 384 kbps upload and 1.8 Mbps download speeds
o GSM/GPRS/EDGE: Quad-band 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz (The device will operate on any frequencies available from the cellular network.)Click here for a full specification

Using the internal GPS and you could have a very capable chartplotter / phone / email / camera / web browser that can work with your current phone provider or WiFi when you are in the marina or in a cafe using a WiFi hotspot. Of course you would also need chartplotter software that works under Windows Mobile 6 such as the Pathaway software from Muskoka. more on that here…

For pictures of this tiny unit see Endgadget


Identifying stars while navigating at night...

MySkyLearning to navigate by the stars is like crossing the Rubicon for many sailors so it MySky2is encouraging to see useful devices that could help build confidence when sailing by the stars…

The MySky looks like a toy, but I think it should be taken seriously as a very useful aid…



Features :

  • Identify planets and stars in the night’s sky.
  • Visual and audio guided tours of the stars in your location.
  • Find and display mode for constellations.
  • LCD screen with full colour display.
  • Real time sky maps found.
  • Satellite finder.
  • Ergonomically designed to be comfortable to use and hold.
  • Can be connected to computerised telescopes in order to direct the telescope to the chosen constellation.
  • Adds a GPS function to a non computerised telescope.
  • Includes an SD card.
  • Six hours of battery life.
  • Requires 4 x AA Batteries (not included).
  • Size: 27 x 24 x 9cm.


Passage Planning

Following my previous post on Passage Planning I received a number of requests for copies of the passage planning documents that I use. So I thought I would post them here to make it easy to just download them. Just click on the icons below.

Excel Icon1. EXCEL doc – a template and guide to the passage planning process. Inside this workbook there are the following worksheets:

a. Passage Planning Process (for complete novices)
b. Yacht Data Sheet – its becoming a real chore in Europe to carry all these documents and information with your all the time.
c. Departure Checklist – a bit like a flight check list before you “take off”
d. Passage Planning Template – for when the electronics all fail (and the backup) and you forget the vital information that seemed so easy and obvious before you set off!

Word Icon2. WORD doc – a copy of a typical set of weather and tide information that I would take with me . The URL’s take you to the UK sites that I use, but you can easily swap these for your own locale. I just copy and paste (right click on images and copy and paste) into the WORD tables and re-size so they fit on A4. Then I print them and put them in a Nyrex clear plastic wallet and binder.

The documents are all editable – so feel free to amend and doctor to your own taste. If you do distribute to friends and club members and so on, I would only ask that the footer is maintained that gives the URL of my blog site.

I would welcome feedback – I am sure you all have other good ideas….


Have you got a passage planner ?

Several people have complimented me on the simple folder that I use for filing my passage plans and other handy reference information.

I have used an A4 sized folder that has a black plastic cover and clear plastic sleeves into which I can insert A4 sheets of paper that I have printed from the web or that I have typed as aide memoirs for myself.

The first section is the passage itself with weather, tides, destination and alternative port information and so on. The second section is the fixed section which is reference info. This is particularly helpful and calming for crew who may be feeling anxious or confused about what is going on. Apart from being educational, discussing cloud formations, weather systems, understanding winds speeds and wave heights serves to calm the nerves and provide a healthy distraction if you have inexperienced crew and they are getting anxious or just bored;-)

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Met office weather forecast BBC web site Reference section :Beaufort scale
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Reference section :Symbols Reference section :Weather theory Clip in / out sleeves
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Skysail – guides Skysail – guides Skysail – guides

In addition to my usual inserts – I have now discovered the excellent plastic covered aide memoirs produced by Keith Bater of Skysail Training – for the very reasonable price of £16 you can get a full set of guides from Keith and I highly recommend them. See some pictures of what you get by clicking on the thumbnails above.

If you would like a WORD document with my passage plan template please contact me and I will be happy to send you a copy.

I would also appreciate any tips that you may have about how you prepare and write down your passage plans.


Raymarine RC400 – Pros and Cons

rc400 on bracketI was lucky enough to get a RC400 and a Garmin 76CS as gifts in August 2005.

There seems to be a number of discussions on various forums about the pros and cons of these units so I thought I would give my experiences of using both while sailing in the English Channel for the past 2 years.


RC400- the Pros:
1. I have limited space at the helm of my 32ft yacht so I have a mounted the RC400 there since there is no room for anything larger. This makes the RC400 a great choice and it fits well.

2. The colour screen is good and is legible even in pouring rain

3. The screen can be turned down at night and does not interfere with night vision like some of my friend’s larger consoles such as the Raymarine C80 and larger.RC400 1

4. I have installed a power cable and do not rely on the batteries while on passage.

5. I can see a high quality chart at the helm, without going below to see my main chart plotter which is the Raymarine C120 at the nav table.

6. It has its own GPS so it is another backup for position data separate from my main GPS / C120 setup.

7. The Navionics Gold chart is excellent and is compatible with the C120 unit I use at the nav table.

RC400- the Cons:
1. I agree with those who say that the unit eats batteries. The 2300mAh batteries hardly last 1 hour and mine no longer hold a charge. I have now bought 2500mAh batteries – but will still use it on power from the yacht while I am on passage.

2. Interfacing is useless. It does not interface using Seatalk so I cannot connect it to the C120. Although both the C120 and the RC400 have import/export functions for waypoint data – I have not been able to make this work by exporting from the C120 to a Sandisk and then importing to the RC400.

3. I have not tried interfacing with NMEA data since all my instruments are Raymarine and are outputting Seatalk as is the C120.

RC400 24. The batteries do expire rapidly. Apparently it is using current even when it is off. The original 2300mAH AA batteries are all dead now and won’t accept a charge. I have just bought 4 x 2500mAH batteries and a fast charger – so I will see how I get on with those. But to be honest – I have mains power connected to the RC400 at the helm so it is fine on passage and the built in battery charger keeps topping up the batteries while on passage.

5. The GPS seems to lose position at least once on passage – I have a feeling this is a glitch in the software or firmware since my other two GPS units never lose position. Turning the unit off and on seems to correct the issue.

6. Raymarine have discontinued this unit – so no more support. They must have their reasons.