I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post. Winter has that effect on me.
Patience Two survived the relatively mild winter with absolutely no problems except those caused by our most recently arriving neighbors.
A pair of mature Great Horned owls moved in sometime in December and staked out a perch on my mast head most mornings and evenings.
Owls have a nice digestive system, somewhat akin of snakes. They swallow whole, poop steaming piles of nastiness and regurgitate bones and fur balls. By the pound. Along with stomach acid.
If they weren't so much fun to have around I'd be shopping for a pellet gun.
We bent on the sails last weekend so the boat no longer looks naked and forgotten at the end of the dock. All of the winter-ization coverings and such have been stripped away, the first round of scrubbing and shovel duty caused by our winged friends is done and the engines and other boat systems have been prepared and tested. Ready to sail.
My upgrade to the boats systems this spring is to rip out our 'came with the boat' Raymarine VHF - a full sized DSC (Digital Select Calling)equipped Ray 54 model that for all intents and purposes was obsolete when installed because it only excepted NEMA 0183 version 1.5 as the input to it's DSC module.
DSC when used in conjunction with a MMSI number (a individual ID) is like using a VHF for a phone call on the water, it is one boat to another (or selected group) with built in encryption and identification. When it is used in GPS input the Lon / Lat, speed and course of the calling units are displayed.
What that means is when you send an emergency call to the coast guard, or any other unit they KNOW where you are, who you are - and you can program in 'types of distress'. You can push a button, know the call is made and then go fight the emergency with the surety of mind that they WILL find you.
Without GPS it's not exactly optimal now is it?
So, the Admiral got me a Standard Horizon 2150gx with AIS over the winter and added a RAM Mic to the pot as well.
The with "AIS" is the over the top addition. Intrepid readers can google AIS - it's a automated id system, that, like DSC when it has a GPS feed works like radar - it plots the sending unit on a radar like screen and tells me who they are, where they are, and where they are going. It only works for 'ships' - freighters and such that are required to broadcast AIS signals.
The SH 2150gx is the ONLY VHF radio that does this - I'm amazed no other product has this feature STILL. At 327 bucks it's price is in line with other high end VHF radios that don't have AIS.
A AIS receiver as a standalone is 500 bucks. Icom and Raymarine are missing the boat on this one.
It is a tad bit larger than the Ray 54 - but it does accept a signal from my GPS - as well as output a signal to my laptop, a PA system with a programmable fog horn and other neat features.
Running the wires was a snap - just a couple hours of pulling and pushing and such to get it done. Installing the RAM mic was bit tougher as the end of the cable is a one inch connector that required a lot more room to lead. All said and done, three hours of work and it's up and part of the boat.