VHF radios have changed!

SH eclipse radio[I apologise for the long delay in posting…a month-long vacation and an incredible load of projects got in the way, but now it is time to seriously prepare the boat for launch]

I finally got my new Standard Horizon VHF radio installed and I am impressed. I gave up having the loud hailer feature, but the features relative to DSC (Digital Selective Calling…the emergency feature that broadcasts your distress and location with the push of a single button…are significantly increased. Now I can wire it up to the GPS and know the coordinates have gotten through to the radio…they are shown right on the display. Also, although I have not tried it, it is possible to do a DSC test to another DSC-equipped radio without having to call for a true emergency broadcast.

When I think back to the radio and depth sounder that came with the boat almost 10 years ago (which both dated back far before that), I think buying new is a far better idea with most electronics. Yes, in an emergency a lead line could give depth and a sextant could give position, but I hope to never be out of sight of land in my sailing.

Secret of GPS chart-plotter discovered

Single-handing today I had a west wind which meant go south out of the Wood Islands  Harbour if you want to come back on the same wind. All well and good except a rising tide in Northumberland Strait gives a 2-3 Kt current to the west. Running a broad reach…crosswise to the wind…meant the tide carried me to the west even though the sailboat pointed south. 

After an hour I reversed direction…I could tack through the 180 degrees because the boat speed was high enough…about 5 Kts. Now, heading back toward the harbour, I noticed that when the boat pointed toward the lighthouse the little arrow on the GPS display pointed more to the west. OF COURSE, the GPS isn’t interested in the direction of the boat…just the net direction it finds the sensor going relative to the earth. You don’t need a course in vector math to recognize that the tide was moving me west as I sailed north. So I adjusted the autopilot setting until the GPS arrow was pointed toward where I wanted to go. Even though the boat pointed quite a bit east, the net direction was north! I’ve always known you could calculate the direction to point when in a cross current, but the GPS unit makes it even easier. My discovery for the day!